Dallas, TX – Bill Zeeble KERA reporter: It was a crowded gathering near downtown Dallas last night, where hundreds of Texas voters assembled NOT for a Super Tuesday party, but a Fat Tuesday thank-you dinner. It honored volunteers at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, many of whom are Republicans who talked about their primary choices. Of the remaining top candidates, only Texan Ron Paul garnered no support. Computer Technician John Lipscomb likes current front runner John McCain.
John Lipscomb: Because he's been in the Senate for a while, and he's a pretty honest guy. Experience counts.
Zeeble: Lipscomb praises McCain's unwavering support on issues like the troop surge in Iraq, even as other Republicans abandoned the Bush policy.
Lipscomb:Sometimes when Bush got himself in trouble, McCain would come out and say things about it. He's not afraid of the press, afraid of people.
Zeeble: But several Republicans, including Olivia Franklin, say any Republican BUT McCain, in part because she dislikes the McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform.
Olivia Franklin: His ideology gets in the way of free speech. I think he's divisive in the party.
Zeeble; Franklin hasn't picked a candidate yet. Not so for new American citizen Andrew Harrob, from the United Kingdom. In his first U.S. presidential election ever, he'd like a conservative candidate like former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He likes Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, whose values more closely line up with his.
Andrew Harrob: I prefer Huckabee, I prefer his approach, I prefer his delivery.
Zeeble: Harrob is a bit like Olivia Franklin. Any Republican is better than McCain. Engineer Steve Suellentrop is more specific.
Steve Suellentrop, engineer: I'm going to vote for Mitt Romney because he's fiscally conservative, socially conservative, and I like what he's done in the state of Massachusetts. I just think Romney's been more consistent over his tenure as Governor in what reforms he's trying to put in and how he's trying to manage public policy.
Zeeble: Accountant Bruce Toplek likes Romney too, and thinks the candidate can do well in Texas.
Bruce Toplek: I think Texas is kind of, not old fashioned, but traditional. Family uh you say something, you're word is your bond. Of course I think Romney, with his faith, he's very family oriented. That's especially true with the Mormons. They're very strong family traditions.
Zeeble: Expect all the big Republican campaigns in Texas soon. They already have key organizers here. For Senator McCain, it's UT Regent James Huffines, who expects a highly competitive Republican race.
James Huffines, Texas McCain backer: Certainly Governor Romney and Governor Huckabee have strong organizations in Texas. I would anticipate strong active campaigns on both their parts.
Zeeble: Huffines expects one of the hottest Republican primary contests Texas has seen in a long, long time. Bill Zeeble KERA news. So we expect it to be a hotly contested race here in Texas. Bzeeble@Kera.Org