A group calling for Texas to secede from the United States and become an independent nation has launched an effort to get a question about independence onto next year's Republican presidential primary ballot.
The Texas Tribune reports that the Texas Nationalist Movement has begun circulating a petition with the goal of getting 75,000 signatures by December 1, over 8,000 more than what the Texas Secretary of State's office requires to put the question on the ballot.
The vote on whether Texas "should reassert its status as an independent nation", in the words of the petition, would be non-binding and the state Republican party has already distanced itself from the group.
"Historically the executive committee of the Republican Party has chosen what goes on this," spokesman Aaron Whitehead told the Tribune, "and it’s party preference that it stays that way."
Texas was a Republic for nine years after gaining independence from Mexico before it was admitted to the Union in 1845. The state voted to secede in 1861 to join the Confederate States of America prior to the Civil War. Scholars told the Tribune that under the auspices of an 1869 Supreme Court ruling, Texas would not be able to secede from the U.S. again even if voters gave the go-ahead.
However, the Texas Nationalist Movement points to a clause in the state constitution that stipulates that Texans can "alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient."
"The end game for us is to have a binding referendum on Texas independence, much like the people of Scotland had [this past September]," group president Daniel Miller told the paper. "Texas and Washington, D.C. are on very different paths, and the people of Texas obviously recognize that."
The Texas Republican presidential primary is one of 13 set for March 1, a date known as "Super Tuesday."