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A January Texas presidential primary?

If a San Antonio lawmaker gets his way, Texas voters will cast primary ballots in January of 2016, despite the fact that doing so will penalize Texas Republicans at the party’s national convention.  

Texans are currently set to cast ballots in the 2016 presidential primaries on March 1, but HB 1214 by state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, would move the date up to Jan. 26, ahead of every other state except Iowa and New Hampshire.

Larson says he wants Texas to have more of a say as to who the eventual nominee may be for each party.

"We are Texas and we deserve to play a meaningful role in the decision that elects our next President," Larson told WOAI-AM San Antonio.

State Republican and Democratic Party officials have expressed displeasure with the idea because of the potential harm to each party’s delegation at the parties’ national conventions.

Texas GOP Chairman Steven Munisteri said under Larson’s bill, Texas’ share of delegates to the national convention would decrease from 155 to nine.   Munisteri told the San Antonio Express News that such a move would make the state “completely irrelevant.”

Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said it would be harmful to Texas delegates to the Democratic National Convention “just so Texas can try to have a little more political weight in the national primary.”

Neither Munisteri nor Hinojosa gave the measure much chance of passage, but the Legislature does set the date of primary elections in Texas, not the parties.

If the measure were to become law, the impact on broadcasters could be substantial.  

Why?  Federal candidates have an absolute right of access to the airwaves and 2016 is a presidential election year.  The political window for the proposed January primary would open Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. 

“You’d have federal political candidates, who have an absolute right of access to station airwaves, seeking to buy time in December,” said Michael Schneider, TAB’s V.P. of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs.  “That’s during the prime period sought by advertising seeking to promote holiday shopping.”

TAB will keep stations apprised of the bill’s progress in the Legislature.

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