Judges: Texas primary delayed until at least May 29

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on February 15, 2012 at 8:59 PM

DALLAS - Voters, get out your calendars, one more time.

Federal judges say there will not be a primary election in April. Now the earliest you could go to the polls is May 29.

Rick Santorum's North Texas visit last week to McKinney stirred excitement among Republican voters, who believe the state could yet play a large role in the presidential nomination with an April primary.

But a San Antonio federal court ruled Wednesday there wouldn't be time to draw new lines for statehouse and congressional districts.

It postponed the primary from April 3 to at least May 29, after 43 states have voted.

Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri tried to be optimistic.

"My disappointment is I'd rather take the certainty that we'd have an impact,  over the uncertainty that we might be, even though we might be a kingmaker in the end," Munisteri said.

Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole pushed for the later primary.

Delays left little time for an April vote, because of the court challenge by minorities to districts drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature.

"We look at that May 29th as a good date, that we could possibly have everything completed with all the redistricting, changing the precinct lines, putting the voters in the correct precincts," Pippins-Poole said.

While elections administrators felt relieved and Republicans disappointed, Fort Worth Democratic Senator Wendy Davis celebrated. As part of the case, the state agreed to leave minority neighborhoods in her district, giving her a better shot at re-election.

"But much more importantly so, a victory for the voices of senate district ten, that otherwise would have been silenced," Davis said.

A later primary means the GOP candidates for U.S. Senate wait until May, and perhaps August for a runoff, if needed.

Belo Corp., which owns WFAA-TV, TV stations in Austin, San Antonio and Houston, and the Dallas Morning News, had planned to air a televised, statewide debate March 2 with the leading candidates in the senate race, but that will be canceled for now, with the goal of resetting it later.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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