In the election cycles that follow political redistricting — including the one in 2012 — everybody in the state's congressional delegation and the Legislature and on the State Board of Education is on the ballot. Some incumbents find themselves in new districts or paired with other incumbents. Turnover of the voluntary and involuntary kinds is high after new maps are drawn.
That's not the only reason for volatility in '12: U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison isn't seeking reelection, creating an opening at the top of the ballot that is luring statewide officeholders out of their own posts, opening new opportunities for candidates.
Put simply, there's a lot of change coming: election news, explorations and candidacies, fundraising, redistricting lawsuits and everything else through the March primaries, the May primary runoffs, the political conventions and the November general elections.
Because it grew faster than other states during the last decade, Texas gets four new seats in Congress, and the lines for the other 32 districts were redrawn to make room for those and to make sure that each of the districts has the same population.
The numbers in the state Legislature remain the same — 31 senators and 150 representatives — but those districts were also redrawn to account for population changes and to even up the sizes of each district. The same goes for the 15 spots on the State Board of Education.
All four of those new maps have been challenged in the courts. The resulting options range from no changes at all to wholesale redrawing of maps to delayed candidate filings.
Assuming everything holds, candidates have to file for office in Texas between November 12 and December 12 of this year to run in the primaries next March 6, primary runoffs on May 22 and general elections on November 6. Some parties, like the Libertarians, choose candidates in conventions later in the year, but those candidates have to meet the same filing deadlines as everyone else.