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Lawmakers Prepare for Late 2022 Texas Primary Election

Democratic Texas House lawmakers captured headlines last week with their self-imposed exile in Washington, D.C., brought on by what they see as GOP legislative attempts to suppress voting.

A cloud of uncertainty over advancing any measures in the current special session now hangs over the Texas Capitol.

Despite this, one bill filed in the special session is noteworthy for station sales departments and newsrooms.

HB 15 by Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, sets up a timetable for a delayed 2022 primary election if court fights over newly drawn statehouse and/or congressional districts are unresolved by key dates.

Given the current contentious Texas political environment, court fights over new districts yet to be drawn in an anticipated fall special session on redistricting seems a certainty.

It could lead to a repeat of the delayed 2012 primary election when such court fights pushed back   contests to the end of May.

The primary election runoff did not happen until the end of July that year.

Shifting an election date means shifting candidate filing, voter registration and early voting windows.

Because Hunter, chairman of the powerful House Redistricting Committee, filed the legislation, stations should take note.

Even if nothing happens on HB 15 in the current special session, it can be refiled in any yet to be announced special sessions later this year, including the anticipated special session on redistricting likely to take place in late September or early October.

HB 15 contemplates that the March 1 primary will take place as scheduled if court matters are settled by Nov. 21, 2021.

If not, the primary election and a primary election runoff would be delayed to a later date depending on when court fights are resolved.

If the courts are not finished by Jan. 3, 2022, the primary election date would shift to April 5 and the runoff would shift to June 21.

If the courts are not finished by Valentine’s Day, the primary election would shift to May 24 with a runoff, if needed, taking place on July 26.

For station sales departments, it means staff should mull over shifting 2022 primary election political advertisement sales projections to the second quarter in sales budgets developed this summer.

What happens if there is no court resolution by Feb. 14, 2021?

The Secretary of State would be directed to set dates for the primary election and its runoff which would be later than those set forth in the bill.

TAB will keep stations informed as to any changes in 2022 election dates as they become known.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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