Texas is one of several states holding their primary on March 1, part of what’s variously known as “Super Tuesday,” and, this go-round, the “SEC primary.”
Texans have traditionally cast their votes later in the primary season; this time, they are poised to play a larger role nationally, offering Republicans and Democrats huge delegate hauls that could go a long way towards deciding the eventual presidential nominees.
But for most of the downballot races in Texas, primary day will effectively serve as election day. Carefully drawn districts translate to a lock for one party or the other, so across a broad spectrum of races, whoever emerges victorious in the primary is almost certain to coast to election in November.
In many cases, not even a major scandal is likely to dislodge those March winners, because many candidates will be heading into November unopposed. Some are even heading into the primary without a challenger.
That’s not to say Election Day will be without drama, of course Over the last decade, sprawling U.S. House District 23, currently occupied by Republican Will Hurd, has gone back and forth between the major parties like a ping pong ball.
That race is among those that but a handful of races are not only tough to call but likely willto tell us something about which way the political winds are blowing in Texas.
The most telling may be the Republican presidential primary, where Texan Ted Cruz is hoping to gain a home-field advantage.
In the Legislature, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio is being primaried by two Republicans. While he’s heading into March 1 as the easy frontrunner, if the vote is split enough to force a runoff, recent history teaches us all bets could be off.
Similarly, challenges from the right to some of Straus’ lieutenants, including Byron Cook, R- Corsicana, and Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, are facing stiff primary challenges. The long-standing Tea Party goal has been to “oust Straus” from the speaker’s chair, even if he manages (as seems likely) re-election to the House, so any inroads against his inner circle will at least hearten his foes.
Of course it goes both ways. — noted Several Tea Party incumbents, veterans and newbies alike, are facing spirited challenges too, including Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, Molly White, R-Belton, Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball and Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington.
Democrats, meanwhile, are closely watching two primary fights in San Antonio. Having lost to state Sen. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, in last year's the special election to replace Leticia Van De Putte, state House Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer, D-San Antonio, is again vying for the senate seat in a rematch for the full term.
Incumbent Democrat Carlos Uresti is facing Helen Madla, the wife of the now-deceased senator he defeated, are also in a heated contest.
In addition to the outcomes of many down-ballot races, the answers to some big-picture questions could speak volumes. Voter turnout is always larger in presidential years, but who will benefit? Will the large constituencies drawn to Both Donald Trump’s and Bernie Sanders’ unorthodox candidacies upend the state's traditional party politics? Will they even show up to vote?
We’ll be watching — and we hope you’ll join us. Come back soon and often for the latest news and expert analysis from our great team of reporters and editors!