Joe Straus (center), Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, talks with Jorge Canseco (right) at Lions Field Park on the last day of early voting in the March 2014, the last gubernatorial election. Standing on the left are Jan and Bob Marbut. This year, Texas is again at the forefront of primary races in the nation, with election set for March 6. Early voting starts Feb. 20.

Adding to the pressure is the fact that in some Republican primary races, nearly half the votes will be cast during early voting. That means really seven weeks for candidates to find a way to stand out.

But now it’s the Lone Star State’s turn to join the mix with the earliest primary elections in the nation — and with plenty at stake.

“It makes it difficult for voters,” Jillson said. “You’ve just come out of the holidays and you look up and you are just a few months before Election Day.”

In 30 of the nation’s 50 states, primaries are from June to September. Texas is one of only two states that have March primaries. Illinois holds its primaries on March 20.

“Everything is happening now,” said Donna Stanart, campaign manager for David Balat, one of nine Republicans running in the 2nd Congressional District, which runs from west Houston and wraps around to Atascocita and Humble in northeast Harris County.

“Somehow you have to embed your name in peoples’ minds,” Jillson said.

That has campaign teams in Texas working at warp speed trying to gain name identification at a time many Texans are still taking down Christmas decorations.

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