Expert: Texas' Role In Choosing GOP Nominee Now Greatly Diminished

It now appears Texas won't have as much influence as some would like in selecting the Republican presidential nominee. The federal judge in the protracted battle over voting district maps says the state should 'not' expect to be able to hold its primary before late May. By then, the GOP may have pretty much figured out who will go up against President Obama in the fall.

The attorney general's office and minority voting rights groups reached an agreement on the state Senate map yesterday. 

But the maps for the Texas House and U.S. congressional districts are still in limbo. 

Judge Jerry Smith in San Antonio says, with the way things look now, it's "extremely unlikely" that Texas can hold its primary before May 29th.  However, the judge stopped short of making that the official date. 

Mark Jones is chair of the political science department at Rice University.  He says Mitt Romney, who doesn't poll well among Evangelicals and Tea Party members, could benefit the most from the delay in Texas. 

"Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich would have done quite well here.  Romney — not so well.  So by delaying Texas until later on, Romney doesn't take the media hit of losing such an important state — and, also, doesn't take the delegate hit because Texas does have the second-most delegates following California."

As far as who'd be hurt more by a Texas primary in May, Jones says arguments could be made for either Gingrich or Santorum.

"Gingrich is much more badly in need of something to revive his flagging chances, so Texas might have offered that option.  But, I think, given the way the Gingrich campaign is falling, and Santorum is rising, today, I'd say the Santorum campaign is hurt the most."

Jones says he expects the differences over the state house and U.S. congressional maps to be resolved within the next two weeks.  But if the agreement doesn't come quickly, the Texas primary could be pushed back to June 26th — tying it with Utah as the last state to hold a primary. 

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David Pitman

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