Primaries Looming Large

Obama and Clinton add weight to March 4

Primaries Looming Large
Illustration by Doug Potter

For the first time in a long while, Texas Democrats have power in a presidential election. How much power? This much: Just as I was about to type this sentence Monday afternoon, it was announced that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be debating here in Austin on Feb. 21. Seriously. The CNN/Univision-televised event will be held at the Recreation Sports Center at 20th & San Jacinto, just south of Royal-Memorial Stadium on the UT campus. (Alas, we were hoping for Scholz Garten's back patio.)

With the nomination usually decided by the time Texas holds its primaries, and the electoral college rendering their votes meaningless every fourth December, Texas Democrats usually serve as little more than a source of cash to be spent elsewhere. After Tuesday's "Potomac primaries," Obama's 1,253 delegates (by CNN's count) are barely edging out Clinton's 1,211 – so the drive for the 2,025th and clinching delegate is very much a jump ball.

Of course, there are other elections further down the ballot, some arguably more important to the day-to-day lives of Austinites. We've been covering these campaigns for the past several weeks, and now they enter their stretch runs. This week, we spotlight the Republicans hoping to defend Mike Krusee's House District 52 from a Dem challenge, more twists and intrigue in the Travis County tax assessor-collector race, and a peek at the Dem candidates for the long misnamed and misunderstood Texas Railroad Commission. For the Chronicle's endorsement in select races.

Early voting begins on Tuesday, Feb. 19, and runs through Friday, Feb. 29 (see our early-voting info). Election day is March 4. Go vote – this time it really will matter.

*Oops! The following correction ran in the February 22, 2008 issue: In last week's "Primaries Looming Large," we gave the wrong address for this Thursday's Clinton-Obama debate. The debate is being held Thursday, Feb. 21, 7-8:30pm at the Recreational Sports Center (on 20th Street in between San Jacinto Boulevard and Robert Dedman Drive, two buildings south of Royal-Memorial Stadium). Not that it matters, since none of you is getting in.

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