Texas: Early Voting Begins For Nation’s First Primary

Photograph by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A polling station in Lipan, Texas.

Midterm election voting begins today in Texas, where voters can cast ballots ahead of the first-in-the-nation primary on March 4.

Early voting is a popular option in Texas, which is among 32 states that offer some form of in-person early voting. About 40 percent of Republican voters and 43 percent of Democrats early-voted in the 2010 primaries for governor. In the general election, 53 percent of the electorate cast early ballots.

Notable primaries include a six-candidate Republican contest in the northeastern 4th District, where Representative Ralph Hall, 90, the oldest House member in the history of Congress, is seeking an 18th term that he says will be his last. Hall’s most serious challenger is John Ratcliffe, a wealthy former federal prosecutor.

In the Dallas-area 32nd District, the National Association of Realtors is aiding Republican Representative Pete Sessions, the Rules Committee chairman, against a challenge from Katrina Pierson, who’s aligned with the small-government Tea Party movement.

A dozen Republicans are seeking to succeed Republican Representative Steve Stockman in the 36th District, a Republican bastion that stretches from Houston to the Louisiana border. Stockman surprisingly declined a re-election bid to pursue a primary challenge to Senator John Cornyn, the second-ranking Senate Republican and an overwhelming favorite to win renomination.

Three Republicans, including former Representative Francisco Canseco, are seeking to unseat one-term Democratic Representative Pete Gallego in the 23rd District, which stretches from El Paso to San Antonio. It is probably the only politically competitive district in Texas, and one of just nine districts nationwide that voted Democratic for House and Republican for president in the 2012 election.

The March 4 primary may be just a first-round vote in some districts. If the leading candidate fails to win a majority of all votes, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff election on May 27.






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