No deal, no April Primary in Texas

Posted in 2012 Primary, Around The State, Redistricting at 3:58 pm by wcnews

The DC court made a surprising and important announcement yesterday, D.C. court says redistricting decision a month away.

A panel of federal judges told parties in a Texas redistricting case Wednesday not to expect a ruling within 30 days, throwing the date of the state’s political primaries further in doubt.

A ruling by the District of Columbia court in the complex case was expected to provide guidance to another federal panel in San Antonio trying to draw new maps for state House, Senate and congressional elections.

If the San Antonio court wants to maintain the April 3 primary date, “it will have to draw plans without benefit of a ruling from District Court in D.C.,” said Nina Perales with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Monday’s the deadline.

Monday map deadline

“What we’re awaiting is an indication from the San Antonio panel” as to what they are going to do, said Chris Elam, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas. “The ball rests in their court.”

Boyd Richie, the Texas Democratic Party chairman, said that he no longer believes maps will be available in time for April elections unless a settlement is reached.

The San Antonio court gave the parties until Monday to agree on a map or risk seeing the primaries slide further into the calendar year.

Via South Texas Chisme, here’s an excerpt from an editorial Michael Li wrote in the Star-Telegram, Legal wrangling over Texas redistricting misses the big story.

The crux of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s court argument has been that the only districts protected under the Voting Rights Act are districts where, unlike Senate District 10, a single minority group, by itself, controls outcomes in elections. In other words, in his view, Hispanic and African-American voters only get protected by the Voting Rights Act if they live in neatly defined ethnic barrios of the type that are becoming more and more rare in a multi-ethnic Texas.

Abbott’s argument is a one-two power grab. On the one hand, the state argues it can’t draw more African-American or Hispanic seats because the populations are too spread out across the region. Then it argues that it can fracture the coalitions that minority groups manage to forge because “coalitions” aren’t protected by voting rights laws.

Here’s the latest from the TDP.

BREAKING: TDP Advisory to Court on Election Timing

Earlier today, the D.C. court entered an order in the redistricting preclearance case telling all involved parties that they would not rule on the case for at least 30 days.

Given this development, the Texas Democratic Party filed an advisory with the San Antonio federal court relating to the election timeline. You can read the text of that advisory below, or see the filing here.


TO THE HONORABLE JUDGES OF SAID COURT: COMES NOW, the Texas Democratic Party, Boyd Richie in his capacity as Chair of the Texas Democratic Party, and files this Advisory concerning election timing, and would respectfully show this Honorable Court the following:

This afternoon, the three-judge United States District Court for the District of Columbia provided the docket entry attached as Exhibit A. In this entry the Court makes it clear that it will not be issuing its ruling within the next thirty days. In light of this, The Texas Democratic Party (hereinafter referred to as “TDP”) no longer believes district maps can be available in time for an April election, unless a settlement is reached. In the event a settlement is not reached, TDP is in favor of the Court abandoning the April election with a later election to be scheduled when more is known concerning district maps. While TDP continues to prefer a unified primary, TDP does not oppose holding the Presidential Election only in April in so far as the state agrees to cover the additional cost. As long as the state continues to oppose reimbursing the cost of the split election, TDP opposes a split election.

TDP appreciates the difficult issues facing this Court and the one in D.C. and is thankful for the Court’s consideration of the above.

Dated this 1st day of February, 2012.

And here’s the latest from BOR, Redistricting Update: San Antonio Court Will Draw Interim Maps.

That threw things back in the hands of the San Antonio court, which had been considering whether to wait on the D.C. court’s ruling before drawing new maps (an anomaly of the Voting Rights Act is that while only the D.C. court can rule on preclearance issues, it has no power to draw replacement maps to fix them - that’s the province of courts back in Texas).

Well, with the window for an April primary rapidly closing (if it hasn’t already), the San Antonio court entered an scheduling order this morning, directing briefing by February 10 at 6 p.m. on a number of issues related to interim maps and setting a hearing/status conference for February 15 at 8 a.m. (so much for Valentine’s Day for lovelorn lawyers).


Mean time, settlement talks are still going on being redistricting plaintiffs and the State of Texas.

The primary April 3rd primary has not been canceled yet. It looks like a settlement deal, really soon, is the only thing that can keep the primary from being moved again.

Further Reading:
African-American and Latino voters intervene in Texas voter ID lawsuit.

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