April 06, 2006

Elam on the nomination process

The word I'm hearing is that it's likely that party leaders will try to nominate a candidate before a special election is held.

Chris Elam provides some thoughts (I'll excerpt here, but go read the posts):

In CD 22, there are exactly 100 precincts including a couple that are there just for administrative reasons but contain no voters.

Of those 100 precincts, 60 currently have a GOP precinct chair, two will have a GOP precinct chair after next week's runoff, and 38 precincts do not have a precinct chair.


Somebody who is interested in knowing how these precinct chairs are leaning, might be inclined to do an informal survey. Or, calling Eric Thode and having a meeting to discuss them all individually so they can have an informed start to their targeting and courtship. Or, more than likely, poring through the voter rolls in the precincts without chairmen, looking for GOP voters with publicly listed telephone numbers to call up and beg them into being appointed and serving... and then taking them to dinner.


Do only the precinct chairs in CD 22 get to vote, or will precinct chairs in other CD's get a voice?

Do the candidates get to come in and speak durng the meeting?

Are the precinct chairs who want to be selected, required to declare and sign their allegiance to one candidate in blood?

Are the meetings going to be formed in the fashion of a debate on the merits of the Congressional candidates, or the merits of the precinct chairs who will be part of the four-member board?

And most importantly...

Will the meetings be open to the general public, or just to Republican primary voters, or will they be completely closed to observers and REALLY emit the stench of back-room dealing? You'd think that they'd have to rent the FBISD football stadium in order to deal with the crowd if these meetings are going to be open to the public.
I can answer one question. Only precinct chairs within CD22 will get to vote on who represents them on the 4 person committee ("one precinct chair from each county that is only partly situated in the district, elected by and from among the precinct chairs of the precincts in that part of the county.")

If you were on a Congressional campaign, you would obviously be looking to fill vacant precinct chairs with supporters. So look for that to happen. Of course, how will that be done? It's uncertain.

It's uncertain because it appears that the statute ATTEMPTS to provide a mechanism for filling vacant precinct chairs, but fails to do so. That is, the rules for the replacing DeLay are in Tex. Elec. Code Sec. 171.054. Subsection (c) of that code provides that:
If a vacancy exists in the office of precinct chair on a senatorial district executive committee immediately before the date for conducting the regular drawing for a place on the general primary ballot, the appropriate precinct chairs shall convene on that date at the hour and place specified by the county chair to elect that officer. (emphasis mine)
I haven't checked the statute history, but it appears that this is just sloppy drafting. It appears that the statute drafters intended this subsection to apply, however, they accidentally left in "senatorial," and thus it literally does not apply in this case.

So, it looks like the county party chairs will have some latitude (based on the rules in their county for how precinct chairs are appointed) in stacking the deck in favor of certain CD22 candidates. And even if subsection (c) were found to apply (if anyone even bothered to sue)

One question of my own: this will be a four person committee. What happens if the committee deadlocks 2-2 (or 1-1-1-1, thus giving ONE person the power to decide CD22's next Congressman (technically only the Republican nominee, but that nominee is pretty likely to win))?

Folks, this is political theater at its best.

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