How Texas Got Super (Tuesday)

No one within 300 miles of here would argue that Texas is, in fact, super. But did you know Texas hasn’t always voted on Super Tuesday?

Today, Texas and twelve other states representing 565 Republican delegates will take to the polls. That’s roughly half of the 1,236 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination.

Some pundits even call today Super Duper Tuesday, leaving the mere Super Tuesday moniker for Tuesday, March 15, when 6 state Republican primaries award a total of 361 delegates. 

Common knowledge holds that the earlier a state holds its primary, the more impact that state has on the nomination process.

That’s why Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada get more publicity during presidential election years than in the three in between years combined. 

For years Texas law mandated that the state’s primary election be on the second Tuesday of March in every election year.

Things changed in 2004 thanks to legislation authored by my previous boss, former Texas Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas).

Branch entered his first term in the Texas House in January 2003 aware that he had a potential political weak link:

Since Republican primaries were held on the second Tuesday of March, they generally fell during school and university spring breaks when many of Branch’s north Dallas supporters left town for vacation destinations.

A successful early voting push during the 2002 primary minimized the impact on Branch’s first election effort. But he knew not what the future might hold and what Republican primary challenger might cross his political path.

So, in the name of voter enfranchisement, voter turnout and expanded Texas influence in the presidential candidate nominating process, Branch suavely sought bipartisan support to move Texas’ primary election up a week to the first Tuesday in March.

The political logic was not hard to sell to a capital full of politicians, even the most altruistic of whom sleep with one eye open toward re-election.

Branch’s bill garnered support from both sides of the aisle and both houses of the Legislature. My job was to garner favorable testimony at the bill’s committee hearings. I was never so glad to see the Travis County Democratic Party chairman.

Governor Rick Perry signed the bill into law in the summer of 2003 and Texas has been voting with the big boys and girls on Super Tuesday ever since. The law change may have particular effect this year with a U.S. Senator from Texas on the ballot.

The Republican National Committee has since taken steps to increase every state’s impact on the nominating process.

For instance, every state that votes prior to March 15 must divide its delegates proportionally according to the breakdown of its vote. After March 15 a state’s primary winner can take all the state’s delegates if the state Republican party so chooses.

Nevertheless, the Lone Star State will show off its political super-muscle today thanks to the crafty work of a capable politician who ironically never again faced a primary opponent throughout the balance of his service in the Texas House.

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at



1 Response to “How Texas Got Super (Tuesday)”

  1. 1 Super Tuesday in Texas: A Look Up and Down the Ballot | Texas State of Mind Trackback on March 1, 2016 at 12:49
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