Early voting has started in Texas. Here is what is at stake.
At stake in Austin is the fate of the Texas House of Representatives. The far-right Speaker of the House, Tom Craddick (R-Midland), has polarized and angered so many of both parties that loyalty to Craddick is a central focus of primary races across the state. Craddick has survived multiple attempts at overthrow him with the support of pro-Craddick Democrats despite numerous Republican defections. As a result, the both Republican and Democratic primaries are mostly contests between Craddick loyalists and opponents.
Speaker Craddick (first elected in the 1960s) derives his power from powerful interest groups that have stayed in Austin as long as he has. These include the tort reform lobby, big business (Texas Association of Business), and Dr. James Leininger (voucher advocate extraordinaire). Using the money from these groups, Craddick (under the table and secretly) finances challenges against moderate and anti-Craddick Republicans. These “Leininger clones” in 2006, for example, would be recruited, interviewed, coached, and funded by James Leininger for opposing Craddick and/or school vouchers. In one race, I remember 90% of Leininger clone’s fundraising coming just from Leininger.
Keep that in mind when voting in the down ballot statehouse races. I’d love to see Craddick go down in 2009.
Texas Observer– Primaries ’08
It also seems that we have a kinda, sorta li’l primary for the president of the United States. For those voting in the Democratic primary, here is what you need to know in Texas. YOU MUST VOTE TWICE if you really want your candidate to win.
First, you must be registered, and yes, it is too late to do that now. THERE IS NO PARTY REGISTRATION IN TEXAS. Anyone can vote in either primary.
Second, you must vote where were registered (absentee, early, election day). Keep your receipt or stamp on your voter ID card. Most pledged delegates will come from this statewide election.
Third, at 7PM on March 4th, you must attend a precinct caucus. This meeting will be at your election day precinct which is usually different from your early voting location. At the caucus you must declare for one candidate or the other and sign in. The remainder of the pledged delegates will come from the local caucuses. You can only caucus where you are registered. If you absentee voted, you are probably out of luck.
Everybody got that? Vote early (until February 29th) and often.
NPR – “Texas Primary explained by Texas Democratic Party”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram – “Texas primary combines traditional vote and caucus“