Pains of a Postponed Primary
Texas state Senate maps were finalized this week following a long court battle over the state’s redistricting process. Maps for House and Congressional districts are still up in the air, which is cause for confusion that affects the planning for campaigns.
Don Zimmerman is a member of the State Republican Party Committee for Travis County.
“It’s a mess…,” he said.
Zimmerman’s opinion isn’t unique when it comes to uncertainty about the primary, caused by election map disagreements.
“If the courts are going to arbitrarily push back these primary dates, then they’re going to have to change or provide some exemption or some special cases for complying with the law,” he said. “Because you can’t comply with the law with what they’re doing right now.”
Zimmerman said the election code and the Republican Party rules are tied together very tightly with a primary date that was supposed to happen the first week in March. The GOP holds precinct, county and state conventions.
“And if the primary gets delayed, it makes some of these other events impossible to hold,” Zimmerman said.
All signs point to another delay. A San Antonio court said Wednesday that the earliest possible primary date would likely be May 29. For the Republicans, a primary that late in the spring could make Texas irrelevant in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
Things aren’t much different on the other side of the aisle. Andy Brown is with the Travis County Democratic Party. He said on the plus side, the delay is giving potential candidates more time to assess their chances.
“The only hardship – and it is a big hardship – that I have seen on our candidates is that it is costing them a lot more money to continue running campaigns. And frankly, that’s money that we’re not going to have in the general election because it’s been spent on advertising in a primary.”
Congressman Lloyd Doggett said in his 30 years in Texas politics, he’s “never seen anything like this.” His district is one of the most contested in the battle over state maps. Doggett still doesn’t know what the district lines will look like, so he said he’s running campaigns in two distinct districts.
“I’m devoting some of each week to San Antonio, where I have a full-time campaign office, and some to my hometown in Austin, where I have a full-time campaign office, and a bit more to the area in between along the I-35 corridor,” Doggett said.
If the congressional districts end up looking anything like those initially drawn by the state Legislature last year, Doggett will most likely seek election in District 35. That would pit him against State Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio.