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Legislature Approves Bill Potentially Delaying 2022 Texas Primary Elections

- Awaiting Signature by Gov. Abbott

Texas lawmakers have sent Gov. Greg Abbott a measure that could potentially delay the date of the 2022 Texas primary elections.

On Sunday, the Texas Senate cleared the bill’s journey to Abbott’s desk by approving House amendments to SB 13 by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston.

Lawmakers say the governor will sign the legislation.

The bill provides the Texas Secretary of State with the capability to adjust the date of the primary election, its potential runoff, and any corresponding candidate filing and procedural dates, based on when the governor signs off any redistricting plan approved by Legislature.

Uncertainty about the March 1, 2022, primary election date already exists due to the timing of Texas’ redistricting effort.

A redistricting special session could begin as early as this month, although Abbott has not yet set a date for it.

Regardless of how quickly lawmakers can draw up congressional and state electoral district maps, some of those maps will surely be called into question by the minority party, which could further delay elections.

Some political watchers believe the courts could delay the 2022 primaries to the second quarter of next year, just as they were in 2012 when new electoral district maps approved by the Texas Legislature were challenged in state courts, delaying the primary election to late May that year.

Broadcasters preparing 2022 budget forecasts should note that political advertising dollars may not be spent in earnest until the second quarter, or perhaps beyond.

Abbott has indicated that the 2022 primary elections could happen as late as July due to court fights, but SB 13 doesn’t contemplate the effects of court action. 

Regardless of what the courts do, Texas Republicans, and Democrats for that matter, want to avoid a summer election – turnout is generally lower, and underdogs get extra time to connect with voters.

In 2012, court delays allowed underdog Ted Cruz, who had never held elected office, extra time to connect with GOP voters, which led to his win over then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in that year’s GOP primary election for U.S. Senate.

Shifting Timetable of 2022 Primary Election Dates
Under SB 13, if the redistricting plan is signed into law by Nov. 15, all current primary election and related administrative dates would stay the same. 

That means a March 1, 2022, primary election, and a candidate filing window opening Nov. 29 and closing Dec. 13.

The primary election runoff would take place May 24.

If a lawmaker-approved redistricting plan is not signed into law until after Nov. 15, but before Dec. 28, the primary election would shift to April 5, and the primary election runoff would take place June 21.

The candidate filing would also shift to Jan. 10-24, 2022.

Similarly, if the redistricting plan becomes law after Dec. 28, but before Feb. 7, 2022, the primary election date is delayed to May 24, and the primary election runoff would take place July 26.

Under that scenario, the candidate filing window would take place Feb. 21 to March 7, 2022.

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

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