The Texas Primary has been making national headlines this week because of the wave of Democrats turning out for early voting. While these remarkable numbers should motivate conservatives to mobilize for the general election in November, the most important vote a Republican can make in Texas is during the March 6th primary and subsequent runoffs. Early voting ends on Texas Independence Day—which this year will also mark Sam Houston’s 225th birthday.

You might think to yourself, “why does the primary carry such meaning for conservatives as long as they win the general?” Essentially, it’s the same reason that the Democratic primary is so pivotal in Washington D.C.; the winner of that primary generally goes on to win in November. And here in Texas, if you want to shape the future of the Republican Party, voting in this primary is paramount.

Texas is, and will likely remain for the foreseeable future, a right-leaning state. And often, the races among several Republicans in a Texas primary are tighter than those between a Republican and a Democrat in the general election. For example, in 2016 Republicans voted in record numbers during the primary, largely due to the heated presidential race. When you examine the outcomes of these elections you’ll notice that many of the candidates who won their primaries that year went on to win the general election. In the end, there were 31 races that were decided when the primary was over with only one candidate advancing to the general. This year’s Lone Star electoral landscape will likely see similar results coming out of the primary.

As the Texas Tribune points out, “Texas primaries are extremely competitive this year, with one Republican primary drawing a staggering 18 candidates [HD-21]. But 64 candidates who win their primaries will face no major-party opposition in the general election. Of those 64 primary winners, 19 will be Republicans and 45 will be Democrats.”

The winners of the primary elections will, with only a handful of exceptions, determine who is on the November ballot, and whoever wins in November will help make up our state Legislature and Congressional delegation. With a new Texas House Speaker election triggered by Speaker Joe Straus’ retirement who will (and won’t) be representing Texans at the State Capitol matters greatly. Especially since the Texas Republican Party is showing some notable fissures that have yet to be repaired.

Even without a Trump vs. Clinton battle at the top of the ballot, this year’s mid-term election cycle carries great weight for the future of Texas. In a time of monumental political and social change such as this, your vote counts more than ever. If you care about the future of Texas remember the power of your vote.

Of course, with this Friday being the Legendary Texan Sam Houston’s birthday, we’ll rely on his wisdom for some valuable guidance.

As wisely opined; “The benefits of education and of useful knowledge, generally diffused through a community, are essential to the preservation of a free government.”

Communities that know that the stakes are high and who value their freedoms-vote. The right to vote is a cornerstone of democracy. This primary season, be sure to embrace that privilege—for the sake of the present and future, and your children’s children’s future.

Chad Cantella, Principal Texas Star Alliance