By Jim Lane
DALLAS -- Anti-Bush progressives in Texas are still giggling over our giant turnout in the primary election on March 4. The turnout set records and was easily 5 times as large as the 2004 presidential primary. Democrats more than doubled the Republican turnout. In fact, the Texas AFL-CIO reported that both Clinton and Obama each earned more votes than all Republicans combined.
Even though Hillary Clinton took the popular vote in Texas with solid support in rural and suburban areas, the peculiar system of selecting some of the delegates through the precinct conventions awarded a slight majority of pledged delegates to Barack Obama. Apparently, Obama’s legions of volunteer supporters were either more numerous, more inspired, or better-trained than Clinton’s, because they flooded the precinct conventions. There are approximately 35 unpledged Texas “superdelegates” who will ultimately decide “who won Texas” at the State Convention in Austin. Even the so-called “pledged” delegates can switch candidates almost at will, so the State Convention promises high drama.
Almost everybody is swapping stories about their amazing experiences at the precinct conventions. In one of Dallas’ largest African-American precincts, a long-time political figure who supported Clinton absconded with the sign-in sheets that are used to determine the numbers of delegates. According to the Dallas paper, Obama supporters literally chased her into a local police station!
Texas unions had no access to the exit-poll information they had in Ohio, where the AFL-CIO reports that 33% of all voters came from union households, but we are very happy with the results of our efforts. The Texas AFL-CIO reports that four union-endorsed candidates for the State Legislature were defeated while most of labor’s candidates won. Very big money came into play in some races, and it has not yet become known how much the primary race affected the biggest question in state politics, “Will Tom Craddick be able to continue his iron-fisted rule of the State House?”
The number one labor candidate in the state, Rick Noriega for the U.S. Senate seat held by ultra-rightwing Republican conservative John Cornyn, squeaked a 51% no-runoff victory over two Democratic opponents. His vote was substantially larger than Cornyn’s, but Cornyn is reported to have oceans of campaign money for November.
In Dallas, Sheriff Lupe Valdez also took a victory without a runoff over several Democratic contenders. The Dallas AFL-CIO endorsed candidates all won their races handily, with only one runoff still in the works.
[Precinct conventions were packed with political newcomers after the Texas polls closed. Photo was taken by Jim lane in Dallas 3/4/08]