The Texas primary takes place on Tuesday, and there will be a number of interesting story lines to follow.
For Mitt Romney, Texas could be vindication. The presumptive GOP nominee — who has been ripped throughout the Republican primaries as a bland candidate, and who has had to fend off advances from surging GOP rivals — needs 70% of the vote to secure the golden 1,144 delegate total to win the nomination.
For Ron Paul, Texas could be his last stand … his Alamo, if you will. Paul has quit actively campaigning in the GOP primaries, but is still on the ballot in Texas. More so, Texas is home court for the libertarian congressman representing the 14th district. Paul has used his “It’s the Delegates, Dummy” system to win delegates in a number of state conventions, most notably the Minnesota Republican Convention earlier this month. A win in Texas — of 30% or more of the total vote — would be a massive cue for the libertarian, likely propelling him to a higher national podium.
Paul will also be retiring in November, and Tuesday’s race will decide which Republican will succeed him.
Locally, the Tea Party is starting to make things difficult for the GOP establishment. One of the biggest races in Tuesday’s Texas primary pits four Republicans seeking their party's nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. Ted Cruz, a Tea Partier, is looking to upset Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who was until recently seen as all but certain to fill the seat.
The newest polls show Dewhurst pulling ahead, but not by a majority. That could mean a run-off election later in the summer. A Cruz victory would also be another win for a Tea Party insurgent against an established Republican ... which may be ominous in the wider general election.
On the Democratic side, in an odd twist, Barack Obama will have challenger. John Wolfe, a Tennessee lawyer who has participated in the Louisiana and Arkansas Democratic primaries, will look to test the incumbent president. Last Tuesday, Wolfe took home 42% of the vote in losing to Obama in Arkansas. Is his story a prologue to anti-Obama sentiment in the general election?
PolicyMic will be providing live updates leading up to and during the primary (Click "Refresh" to get the most current results):
LIVE UPDATE: Wednesday 8:30 a.m. The Texas GOP Senate race is heading to a runoff: Dewhurst managed jus 47% of the vote (50% was needed to avoid a runoff). Cruz notched 25.5%.
11:05 p.m. With 46% reporting, Dewhurst stands at 46%, with a runoff looking more and more likely.
10:45 p.m. With 35% reporting, Dewhurst nearing 46%.
10:30 p.m. With 30% reporting, Dewhurst's lead stands at 47%.
10:20 p.m. With 21% of polls reporting, Dewhurst still leads with 47% of the vote. Remember that Dewhurst needs to earn at least 50% to avoid a runoff election. Thus, this race is super-tight, and Cruz is right where he wants to be.
10:10 p.m. With 15% now reporting, Dewhurst's margin is slipping. He only leads Cruz 47% to 30%.
9 38 p.m. The Other Races: In Texas, there are also a series of House primaries that are generating buzz and will help decide the makeup of the state's congressional delegation.
The two most anticipated contests are for veteran Rep. Ralph Hall, a 16-term Republican congressman, and Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat. According to Politico, if either loses, "it would be fresh evidence that -- after the spring defeats of Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar and Illinois Rep. Don Manzullo -- years of service in Washington remain more of a liability than a boon with voters this year."
9:31 p.m. With over 4% reporting, no major changes.
9:23 p.m. With 3% reporting in the Dewhurst-Cruz battle, Dewhurst still leads with 47%.
9:15 p.m. Romney the Winner in Texas: With 71% of the vote, Mitt Romney has been declared the projected winner of the Texas primary. His win will likely mean he will notch the needed 1,144 delegates, and be crowned the GOP nominee.
8:50 p.m. With less than 2% of polls reporting, Dewhurst leads with 46% of the vote. Cruz at 29%
Romney looks set to dominate Paul ... and finally win the GOP nomination. Romney leads 71% to Paul's 7%.
Tuesday 8:25 p.m. From Juan Munoz, with an on-the-ground look at the Texas primary: If all goes according to punditry, Gov. Mitt Romney will win Texas with no drama at all. However no one I have met at any GOP event or convention is excited about Romney on the top of the ticket. In fact, the State GOP Chairman, Steve Munisteri has been very vocal about saying he feels Gov. Romney has taken Texas for granted, and will do so in the general election. As for Rep. Ron Paul, he is seen by most of the establishment GOP members as more of a trouble maker than a favorite son. Chances are he’ll benefit from the protest vote against Romney, but he won’t garner more than 25%. In truth, most of the GOP die-hard regulars are more concerned about the Paulites causing chaos at the Texas GOP convention. Paul does have his supporters especially in the Austin and Houston area and they are very motivated to actually go and vote, which may inflate his numbers when the day is done.
Most of the political energy in the state is centered on the GOP senate race and the almost universally expected run-off between Lt. Gov Dewhurst and former Soliciter General Ted Cruz. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is likely to have the plurality of votes tonight, however chances are he will not avoid a run-off. Dewhurst is likely hoping a miracle will occur and his opponent will be former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, but all signs (including Twitter chatter) point to a Dewhurst/Cruz battle in late July. If that happens, he may very well win the battle today and lose the war when all is said and done.
8:18 p.m. Dewhurst leads Cruz 50% to 33%, but still less than 1% reporting.
Tuesday 8:08 p.m. With less than 1% of precincts reporting, Dewhurst leads Cruz 61% to 25%.
Tuesday 8 p.m. Polls are now closed in Texas. Results forthcoming.
Tuesday 5:55 p.m. Some Interesting National Polling Points:
Obama v. Romney in the General Election: 47% to 45% (Gallup)
Obama Job Approval Rankings: 49% approve, 50% disapprove (Rasmussen)
Repealing Obamacare: Favor repeal 55%, Oppose repeal 39%
Tuesday 4:45 p.m. Obama Has Competition in Texas: For the second week in a row, an “anti-Obama” will look to compete against the incumbent president. Though these challengers will likely not dent the president’s national image ahead of the 2012 general election, their story could be the prologue for something more serious for President Obama: Are we seeing a new wave of anti-Obama sentiment from within the party?
Challenging Obama for the Democratic primary nod will be three relatively unknown names: John Wolfe — the Tennessee attorney who took 42% of the primary vote in Arkansas last week — Florida author Darcy G. Richardson, and Chicago investor Bob Ely.
In an interview with PolicyMic, Wolfe outlined his reasons for running, and how his campaign parallels that of Republican presidential underdog Ron Paul.
Wolfe will not be taking home any delegates from the Arkansas Democratic primary, but he does see his impact in that state as a national statement.
"The fact that I did get (42% of the vote) against a very well organized Obama campaign — that's testament to the national backlash against (Obama)," Wolfe said.
For Wolfe, competing against Obama on the Democratic ticket is necessary, especially to provide voters with a different set of ideals to choose from.
"There are major similarities between the GOP and Democrats," Wolfe said. "I provide something different."
Last Tuesday, ahead of the Arkansas and Kentucky primaries, Wolfe called Obama a hypocrite: “Obama rallies against big business by day, but by night he takes their money. There are so many inconsistencies.”
Wolfe's campaign focuses specifically on de-socializing health care and cracking down on big Wall Street banks that he claims have run amok.
On health care: “Obamacare gives the insurances companies a full monopoly. People have to deal with an insurance monopoly. This is not right. People need a choice. If health care was more selective, it would be a huge boon to small businesses.”
On Wall Street: “We also need to get banking under control. We need to make the banks loan more money. They have been speculating and making risky moves – which have cost billions of billions of dollars when they make a mistake. These same bankers are also influencing Obama right now. Banks have way too much clout in Washington.”
On Occupy Wall Street: “The 99% is not just a number – it represents an America that is losing. Losing their houses to the very same corporations we are paying to keep afloat.”
Wolfe also believes in extending low-interest student loans to help young people better manage their college tuition.
The Tennessee lawyer is facing a steep hill in the Texas primary against the incumbent president. But Wolfe considers himself not alone in his presidential quest, and parallels his work to that of another presidential candidate -- Texas libertarian Ron Paul, who is battling for delegates against presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
"The thing about Ron Paul and I is we agree on a lot of things," Wolfe said. "Ron Paul articulates some of my main themes, of course in different ways."
"It takes a lot of courage to do what he (Ron Paul) is doing."
Wolfe -- in true anti-Obama fashion -- said he believes that Obama won't easily win the 2012 election, that the race will be very close, and that he doesn't plan to endorse the president until Obama expands on some of his policies and appeals more to his base.
Tuesday 12 p.m. Ted Cruz Could Spark a New Tea Party Revolution: Are we seeing a Tea Party wave sweeping across the 2012 elections?
After a Tea Party flare-up in the Indiana primary — which saw veteran Republican Senator Richard Lugar unseated by an up-start Tea Party candidate — conservative voters may again vent their rage at the Republican establishment in Texas.
One of the biggest races in Tuesday’s Texas primary pits four Republicans seeking their party's nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. Ted Cruz, a Tea Partier, is looking to upset Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who was until recently seen as all but certain to fill the seat.
A year ago, when Hutchinson announced she would not run for re-election, Dewhurst, a staple on the state political scene, was considered a shoe-in.
Enter the Tea Party.
The newest polls show Dewhurst pulling ahead, but not by a majority. That could mean a run-off election later in the summer. A Cruz victory would also be another win for a Tea Party insurgent against an established Republican ... which may be ominous.
In order to avoid a run-off this July, Dewhurst needs to earn at least 50% of the vote, a threshold he has yet to breach in recent surveys. If Cruz can maintain his second-place positioning and keep Dewhurst under the 50% mark, he could build on a recent surge in momentum and publicity.
Cruz, who has earned endorsements from Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum, has been described by the Wall Street Journal as a sort-of-cocky young gunner, a mix between Florida libertarian Sen. Marco Rubio and Utah Sen. Mike Lee.
Cruz was the first Hispanic solicitor general in Texas, the youngest solicitor general in the United States, and had the longest tenure in the post thus far in Texas history.
The latest numbers from Public Policy Polling show Dewhust in the lead with 46% support, followed by former Cruz with 29%; former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert with 15%; and former ESPN analyst Craig James at 3%.
Cruz has called Dewhurst a part of the establishment (a damning name in today’s political environment), and criticized the lieutenant governor for running ads suggesting Cruz supports amnesty for illegal immigrants (damning in conservative Texas).
If Cruz manages a run-off, the Tea Party movement in Texas and Indiana may be prologue to a wider story of Tea Party insurgency in election 2012.
Tuesday 10:45 a.m. Who Will Replace Ron Paul in Texas? Through the entire 2012 Texas primary and Republican presidential primary hubbub, lost is the news that libertarian Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) will be retiring in November.
So who will replace Paul?
In his home district (the 14th district of Texas which is a coastal district that touches the outskirts of Houston on the west) Ron Paul has an established network of supporters who are already familiar with his policies and who are excited about his philosophy. In most of his congressional elections, more than 100,000 people voted for Paul, indicating the attraction of Texans to his campaign strategy and libertarian platforms.
But voters in the district won’t have such a unique politician filling their seat again.
Paul, who represented his district for 24 years, though not consecutively, endorsed Weber’s two campaigns for the Texas State House, but so far has not endorsed a successor.
In a staunchly conservative state (the last time Texas elected a Democrat to higher office was 1994), all of the candidates vying for Paul’s spot are pure conservatives. None are much like Paul, whose libertarian leanings have made him a fierce critic of big government, the Federal Reserve, and foreign military intervention, just to name a few.
Ron Paul won 76% of the vote when he was re-elected in 2010, and you would think that many of the Republican candidates gunning for his seat would likely have to mold their policy platforms to match the libertarian’s.
Such is not the case. A few of the candidates are actually trying to win votes by moving away from Paul’s policies. Instead of ending government stimulus packages, they vow to bring home the real pork, obtaining more federal funding to improve the region's ports and waterways.
"With the growth of shale gas and the upcoming expansion of the Panama Canal, we want to make sure Texas and the nation benefit from these economic opportunities," Felicia Harris, a lawyer and councilwoman from Pearland, Texas, running for Paul’s seat told the Wall Street Journal.
This little libertarian corner of Texas, then, may be no more.
Ron Paul’s voting pattern in Congress has earned him the nickname “Dr. No.”
Don’t expect the Ron Paul successor to be as anti-big government or libertarian as Paul. Expect a true Texas Republican.
Tuesday 5:45 a.m. FYI: Polls open from 7 a.m. -- 7 p.m. in Texas.
Monday 11 p.m. Turnout in Texas Will Be "So-So": According to Texas TV station KSAT, even though the party ballots have more than 50 offices up for grabs, from U.S. Senate to constable, a street poll found few voters in the mood.
Most questioned said they had little to no interest in voting Tuesday.
Senates Race the Focus of Texas Primary: One of the biggest races pits four Republicans seeking their party's nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison.
The latest numbers from Public Policy Polling show Lt. Gov. David Dewhust in the lead with 46% support, followed by former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz with 29%; former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert with 15%; and former ESPN analyst Craig James at 3%.
Gingrich Warns Romney Over Ron Paul Supporters: According to ABC News: Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said the biggest danger facing the Mitt Romney campaign was the “Ron Paul forces.”
Gingrich, in an appearance on Sean Hannity Radio Monday, warned that the Republican National Convention could get out of hand if the Romney campaign didn’t come with a clear plan. “I think the biggest danger in the short run is that they not think through how they’re going to handle the convention in Tampa, and how they’re going to handle the Ron Paul forces,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich was at the state convention in Georgia last weekend and said the ”Ron Paul people” were out in force. “In the end they lost, but there were a couple of hours when it was pretty raucous,” Gingrich said. “As you know, the Ron Paul people won in Minnesota. I think they won in a number of other states. And so they’ve got a pretty good contingent.”
Gingrich said the Romney campaign should think through “not how to pander to them” but how to deal with the Paul delegates positively and give them their “legitimate rights” as delegates. Gingrich said the Romney campaign could then win the nomination and set the tone for the country.
“The next truly big moment in the campaign is going to come in Tampa and thinking through that two weeks — the platform week and the week of the convention — is probably the next big challenge for the Romney people,” Gingrich said.
Sunday 10 p.m. A great analysis from PolicyMic Pundit Jordan Wolf, highlighting how Ron Paul will fare in Texas: Ron Paul suspended his national campaign earlier this month, but he has never given up on his gritty, down-in-the-dirt delegate strategy. In his suspension speech, he reminded his supporters that, “Our campaign will continue to work in the state convention process. We will continue to take leadership positions, win delegates, and carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that Liberty is the way of the future.”
So far, the faithful have heeded the call. For example, just a few days ago, Paul delegates were able to score political victories deep inside the Nevada machine, triggering some resignations from party leaders there.
The next test for Ron Paul’s delegate strategy is in Texas, where Republican voters will be able to turn out for one of their congressional representatives. Texas is friendly territory for Ron Paul, and it may re-energize his long-term strategy.
In his home district (the 14th district of Texas which is a coastal district that touches the outskirts of Houston on the west) Ron Paul has an established network of supporters who are already familiar with his policies and who are excited about his philosophy. In most of his congressional elections, more than 100,000 people voted for Paul, indicating the attraction of Texans to his campaign strategy.
By contrast, Romney has largely started to focus on Barack Obama and this may affect the support he receives from proud Texans. He has hardly campaigned in Texas and has not held any major rallies, facts that have led some Republican leadership to question his understanding of the state. State party chairman Steve Munisteri recently said, “I think he [Romney] takes Texas for granted.”
Texas’ primary is open, which means that Democrats can vote, and unlike in Michigan, when Democrats voted for Santorum to weaken Romney, they may vote for Ron Paul out of a genuine attraction to his position on war, civil rights, and drugs.
Unfortunately, the other elements of the primary aren’t so favorable to Paul. Because it’s a true primary and not a caucus, the Texas election won’t give many opportunities to Paul supporters to tilt support toward their candidate by exploiting their understanding of a baffling procedural rulebook (as in Iowa or Idaho).
On top of that, a vast majority of the contested delegates are bound, meaning that they are legally required (for 3 vote rounds I believe) to vote in line with the percentage of votes received by each candidate in the May 29 voting.
The worst of it is that Romney needs about 70% of the vote to get enough delegates to end with the 1,144 delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination. Thus, Ron Paul needs more than 30% of the vote to block total victory by the Romney campaign, and precedent is not kind to this effort. In 2008, he received only 5% of the vote.
This time is different though. Ron Paul is the only alternative to the frontrunner, but in 2008, he was one of four credible competitors to McCain in the state. And by the way, he did better than Romney in Texas in 2008.
If Paul managed to get enough delegates in Texas to prevent Romney from winning the nomination, he would generate a huge amount of momentum for his now suspended campaign as well as infusing his mission – to bring libertarianism to mainstream politics – with new power.
Background on Texas: Texas has elected a Democrat to state-wide office since 1994, and is staunchly Republican.
Texas voters will choose their nominees for a Senate race, for Congress and the state legislature, for county offices, for judicial seats and for a number of other down-ballot positions.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
How Romney Can Finally Win: A vast majority of the contested delegates are bound, meaning that they are legally required (for 3 vote rounds I believe) to vote in line with the percentage of votes received by each candidate in the May 29 voting.
Romney needs about 70% of the vote to get enough delegates to end with the 1,144 delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination. Thus, Ron Paul needs more than 30% of the vote to block total victory by the Romney campaign, and precedent is not kind to this effort. In 2008, he received only 5% of the vote.
The End of the Ron Paul Era: Ron Paul will retire from the House of Representatives in November, and this primary will seek to nominate a Republican replacement. State Rep. Randy Weber is the favorite among nine other Republicans. The winner is likely to face former congressman Nick Lampson, a Democrat, in the general election.