2012 Primaries

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Last Day to Vote Early

Today is the last day to cast your ballot early in the primary runoff election.

You can click here to find a list of early voting locations in Travis County. Most locations close at 6 p.m. The polling place at the Travis County Offices on Airport Boulevard is open until 7 p.m.

Less than three percent of registered Travis County voters have cast a ballot so far.

Election Day for the primary runoff is Tuesday. On Election Day you’ll only be allowed to vote at your precinct.

Colorado Shooting Victim Remembered in Austin

A funeral for the former Austinite killed in the Aurora movie theater massacre will take place in Austin today.

Photo by Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Texas Primaries Results

Last night’s Texas primaries resolved several high profile contests, while sending other races to a runoff.

Near the top of the Republican ballot, beneath Mitt Romney’s win in the Presidential primary, the race for U.S. Senate carries on. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst came up short of a plurality, meaning he will face off against former Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz in a runoff.

U.S. Rep.  Lamar Smith easily prevailed in his primary, despite opposition from Internet activists.  And on the Democratic side, longtime Austin U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett won handily in newly drawn Congressional District 35.

Photo illustration by Brandi Grissom, Todd Wiseman for the Texas Tribune

Update 11:33 p. m.:

Challenger Jana Duty has unseated incumbent John Bradley, garnering 55% of the vote.

Original Post:

Early voting results are in for Williamson County, where the Republican primary race for District Attorney is arguably the one to watch.

Challenger Jana Duty has 53 percent of the vote compared to incumbent John Bradley’s 47 percent. Less than 700 votes separate the candidates. A little more than 1,500 votes were tallied in early voting.

Duty has made Bradley’s handling of the Michael Morton case a central plank of her campaign.

She told YNN last night: "The policies and procedures have to change because those procedures that was in place 25 years ago in the Michael Morton case, are still in place today,” Duty said. “We have to have an open discovery policy, we have to have fairness."

In Texas House District 47 covering western Travis County, incumbent Paul Workman handily won his Republican primary.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Workman bested Ryan Downton, 67 percent (9,644 votes) to 33 percent (4,782). 

Photo illustration by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Looks like it could be bad news for incumbent State Senator Jeff Wentworth, whose District 25 covers part of Austin.

With just under eight percent of precincts reporting, Wentworth is locked in a three-way battle with challengers Donna Campbell and Elizabeth Ames Jones. Wentworth has locked up 36 percent. Campbell and Ames Jones have secured 32 percent each.

A former railroad commissioner, Ames Jones resigned her post in February to run in the state senate primary. Clashes between Wentworth and Ames Jones, including the former’s lawsuit against the latter, and an anti-Wentworth website squatting at jeffwentworth.com  reflect the tough tenor of the campaign.

Photo courtesy of Lamar Smith

Efforts by some Internet activists -- including I Can Has Cheezeburger? CEO Ben Huh -- to unseat the author of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act have fizzled. Austin Congressman Lamar Smith has trounced his two primary challengers, all but locking in the Republican nomination. 

With results still trickling in, Smith had secured 79 percent of the vote. Tea party activist Richard Mack had 13 percent and software engineer Richard Morgan had 8 percent. The Associated Press has declared Smith the winner.

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

While the writing’s on the wall in the Travis County D.A.’s race, it appears that’s not the only county race where early voting tells the tale.

In the race for Travis County Sheriff, incumbent Greg Hamilton handily leads challenger John Sisson in early voting, 71% (11,825) to 29% (4,799).

Sisson tried to make an issue out of Hamilton’s participation in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions at the jail.

Mr. Baird is Toast?

May 29, 2012
Baird via courtesy Baird for Travis County DA Campaign. Lehmberg photo via https://www.facebook.com/RosemaryLehmberg

If early voting numbers are any indicator, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg appears to have trounced her primary challenger, Charlie Baird.

Lehmberg netted 12,647 votes in early balloting. That’s 74 percent of the vote. Baird got 4,353 votes or 26 percent. Yes, there were exactly 17,000 votes cast during early polling.

At the moment the polls close in Texas Tuesday evening, most media outlets and very likely even the Mitt Romney campaign will declare that he has secured enough delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

For what it's worth, there are two problems with that statement. First, as a practical matter, Romney actually won the Republican nomination when the other candidates competing for delegates in the primaries and caucuses stopped doing so. That was weeks ago.

Photo by KUT News

Polls Open for 2012 Texas Primaries

After being pushed back repeatedly, the Texas primary elections are here.

Voters in the Republican and Democratic primaries will nominate candidates for offices ranging from the President and U.S. Senate to county positions like District Attorney and Tax Assessor-Collector.  You can view the parties’ sample ballots online.

Polls opened at 7 a.m., and although early voting numbers have been low, Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade is hoping for a higher election day turnout.

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

You have just hours left to vote early in the Texas Primaries.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says so far turnout has been disappointing. She believes it’s because the election coincides with prom season, graduations and the beginning of summer vacation.

When the polls opened this morning, just 4.6 percent of registered Travis County voters had cast a ballot.

Election Day is Tuesday. DeBeauvoir thinks the holiday weekend could also keep voters away from the polls.

Photos by KUT News

Vote Anywhere During November's Presidential Election?

The Travis County Commissioners are meeting this morning to talk about using vote centers for the November 2012 Presidential election.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says vote centers, or countywide polling places, give all registered Travis County voters the option to vote at any polling location in the county on election day. Right now, that’s only allowed during early voting.

Photo by KUT News

It's time to vote – again. On the heels of Austin's city election Saturday, early voting for the state and county primaries starts today, and runs through May 25.

The primary was originally scheduled for March but was pushed back because of disagreements over redistricting. Voters will get to choose the party nominees for President, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, among others.

In Travis County, voters will cast primary ballots for offices including district attorney, sheriff, and more.

Image by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Looking for state Sen. Jeff Wentworth’s personal website? It's not jeffwentworth.com, an attack site that blasts the 20-year San Antonio incumbent as “the most liberal Republican senator in Austin.”

Want to know what Ted Cruz, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, says on Twitter? Don't follow @RealTedCruz, which calls the former state solicitor general a “trial lawyer standing with a Chinese conglomerate to kill American jobs.” 

Straddling the line between dirty tricks and political strategy is as old as elections. And campaign impersonation dates at least as far back as the 1970s, when Donald Segretti, President Richard Nixon’s re-election operative, forged letters seeking to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Edmund Muskie — a move that landed Segretti in prison.

Photo by Gage Skidmore via the Texas Tribune

Rick Santorum’s withdrawal today from the 2012 presidential contest makes Texas Republicans, once again, all but irrelevant in their party’s nomination process.

The drawn-out nature of the race had given party activists rare hope that this would be the most competitive presidential primary since 1976, when Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford duked it out in a contest that didn’t end until the party’s convention.

But a legal fight this year over redistricting pushed the Texas primary to May 29 from early March.

Ed Kilgore is a special correspondent for The New Republic

Alec MacGillis is a writer for The New Republic

Ed Kilgore is a special correspondent for The New Republic, a blogger for The Washington Monthly, and managing editor of The Democratic Strategist.

Super Tuesday 2012 is finally here, with Republican presidential preference contests — a mix of primaries and caucuses — occurring in 10 states from sea to shining sea.

While the 2012 race for the GOP nomination likely won't be over by Wednesday morning, it could seem far closer to being so, especially if Mitt Romney sweeps contests everywhere but, say, Georgia, where the former congressman from the Peach State, Newt Gingrich, is expected to have a good night.

Photo illustration by Gage Skidmore / Michael Kappel / Todd Wiseman for Texas Tribune

Waco-area resident and rock star Ted Nugent announced today on Twitter that he was endorsing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's bid for the GOP presidential nomination. But he said things would be different if Texas Gov. Rick Perry had run a different campiagn.

"If the real Rick Perry had been at those debates, he would still be in the race," Nugent told the Tribune Friday. "It is my firm belief that Rick Perry would have [made] and would make the best president we could choose."

Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto is a fellow at the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

May 29 it is.

The federal court in San Antonio that’s overseen the Texas redistricting battle has set a firm date for primaries in the state.

May 29 had been posited as the likely primary date, and now the court’s order makes it official. The date for run-offs is July 31.

If primaries and caucus victories are still all about media attention and momentum, then, yes, it's critical who wins Michigan's statewide vote Tuesday. All the more so if that winner is not Mitt Romney, who grew up there and whose father was governor in the 1960s.

But as to collecting actual delegates for the actual GOP nomination? Tuesday's vote in Michigan probably will not matter much at all.

Benom Plumb, a 31-year-old music industry executive from Nashville, thinks the country is on the wrong path, and that Ron Paul is the only candidate who can turn things around.

As for the other Republicans, Plumb doesn't mince words: Mitt Romney? Too slick. Rick Santorum? Too religious. Newt Gingrich? Untrustworthy. "They are all liars and cheaters, if you ask me," he says.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Rick Perry’s presidential campaign is trying to remain a player in national politics even though the candidate dropped out of the race nearly a month ago.

Perry’s presidential campaign treasurer, Sal Purpura, is asking the Federal Election Commission whether it can use certain donated funds to create a federal political action committee — possibly even a super PAC — that could solicit unlimited contributions and potentially run ads to support favored candidates or causes.

Purpura asked the FEC on Monday to render an official opinion about whether Perry could convert his campaign to “non-connected PAC status.” Purpura said the campaign is considering a variety of conversion options, including one that would create a super PAC.

The campaign is proposing to fund initial operations of the new committee with some of the $270,000 it had left in the bank when Perry quit the race Jan. 19.

Ed Kilgore is a special correspondent for The New Republic, a blogger for The Washington Monthly, and managing editor of The Democratic Strategist.

Image courtesy YouTube

Political redistricting is for real nerds, for those sometimes overly serious people who have spent a great deal of time learning and thinking about something that’s outside the day-to-day experience or interest of the rest of us.

For the political lawyers, the subject comes with layers of statutes and case law and the certainty that one or more cases will go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That’s nerd heaven, you know: dense, complicated, both dull and important and loaded with the chance to get the public’s full attention, if only for a second, every 10 years.

Image by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

In a parallel political universe — one in which redistricting maps were in place and elections were on schedule — Texas would be getting national attention right now.

The four survivors in the Republican presidential primary race would be hitting all the stops on the barbecue circuit, wearing jeans and boots, raising money, posing for pictures and saying remarkable things to be played over and over on TV.

Instead, the earliest possible date for our primary elections will come after 34 states and territories have already spoken, either through primaries or caucuses. It could come later, leaving Texas to join 13 states that hold presidential primaries in May and June.

Just think of it. If the federal courts had approved the maps drawn by the Legislature, or those drawn by a panel of federal judges in San Antonio last year, we’d be less than two weeks away from early voting.

Fresh off his hat trick in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum campaigned in Texas on Wednesday, speaking to a group of pastors at Bella Donna Chapel in the town of McKinney.

Forty miles north of Dallas, where black prairie dirt meets the fresh poured concrete of suburbia, this is Rick Santorum country.

This used to be Texas Gov. Rick Perry country.

Image by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The state unveiled proposed redistricting maps, saying some of the parties in that litigation have signed off on at least some of the lines.

Today is a court-set deadline: Three federal judges in San Antonio told the redistricting parties that they needed to reach an agreement by this afternoon to preserve any hope of holding political primaries on April 3. Those primaries, already delayed from March 6, could be pushed back to May or June if maps aren't in place in time to stage the elections.

Attorney General Greg Abbott announced he had reached agreement on most parts of the maps with most of the parties involved. Notably absent from the deal are the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the NAACP, the so-called Davis plaintiffs, and the Texas Democratic Party, who sued over the Senate district maps in Tarrant County.

In a conference call on the proposal, Abbott says he's confident that the state will have a primary in April. "The plan that is now posted — that will not be objected to by a large number of parties to this lawsuit — addresses all of the Section 5 and Section 2 objections [under the federal Voting Rights Act]," he said.

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