There was a lot going on in Texas on Tuesday night, with a hotly contested Republican Senate primary, and four brand-new House seats to be filled. Governor Rick Perry has been very active with endorsements, including for his lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, in that fiery Senate race. Many thought the Governor’s scorecard on Wednesday morning would provide an important measurement of his political clout, after his presidential run ended badly.
The presidential primary made news in Texas as well, for Mitt Romney won the state, and gained enough delegates to push him over the 1,144 mark and formally secure the GOP nomination.
Actually, some of the delegates included in Romney’s current count are not strictly “bound” to vote for him. Some states have yet to hold their elections for delegates. If the Republican race was still a tight two- or three-way contest, the minutiae of delegate rules would be matters of keen fascination, but as it stands they seem like footnotes of minor curiosity to only the most hard-core political junkies. Unbound delegates generally do not stage crazy last-minute insurrections at the party convention; they’re more likely to peel away from suspended candidates to reinforce the front-runner.
It’s still a matter of some ceremonial importance to see Romney cross the finish line, particularly in Texas, given his once-bitter rivalry with Rick Perry, and the fact that it’s Ron Paul’s home state. A decent second-place finish for the congressman would be the final note of a long political career, while an unexpectedly poor finish would strike something of a sour note. At 9PM, when major news organizations began formally calling the race for Romney and declaring he would pass the 1,144 delegate finish line, Paul was holding about 10 percent of the vote, not terribly far ahead of Rick Santorum’s 7.5 percent.
Texas introduces some interesting wrinkles to the process of finalizing the Republican Party platform for 2012. Influence over the platform is often granted as part of the process for bringing the party together at the convention. Political considerations aside, it makes a good deal of sense to listen to the concerns of the finalists, whose ideas had enough support to carry them through a crowded, bruising primary. There is also the matter of podium time at the Republican National Convention in Tampa to sort out.
Ron Paul has always been noted for strong advocacy of certain issues, particularly monetary policy, so it would not be surprising if he wanted those issues considered for the party platform. His retirement, however, only reduces the Paul quotient in congress by fifty percent. His son Rand represents Kentucky in the Senate, and is a rising Republican star.
It has been reported that Rand Paul and Mitt Romney held a brief policy discussion last week. The ceremonial end of the 2012 primary in Texas may give Rand, until now a staunch supporter of his father, the opportunity to endorse Romney. If it happens, such an endorsement would be an important step in bringing the various wings of the Republican Party together behind its presidential nominee. Meanwhile, Ron Paul’s organized supporters have been winning party offices in many states, which may have profound implications for a Rand Paul presidential run in 2016 or 2020. The timing may not be entirely dependent on whether Barack Obama is defeated in 2012.
Update: Mitt Romney released the following statement:
“I am honored that Americans across the country have given their support to my candidacy and I am humbled to have won enough delegates to become the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee. Our party has come together with the goal of putting the failures of the last three and a half years behind us.
“I have no illusions about the difficulties of the task before us. But whatever challenges lie ahead, we will settle for nothing less than getting America back on the path to full employment and prosperity. On November 6, I am confident that we will unite as a country and begin the hard work of fulfilling the American promise and restoring our country to greatness.”