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Candidates Rush to Meet a Soft Deadline

Monday was the deadline for candidates who want to run in next year's elections. Sort of.

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Monday was the deadline for candidates who want to run in next year's elections.

Sort of.

It was a real deadline, but the federal courts — where redistricting litigation is still under way — have said they'll allow candidates to come back next year to amend their filings, withdraw them or file new applications. Those judges also moved the primaries, to April 3 from March 6, removing Texas from the Super Tuesday presidential primaries. If they don't get maps done in time, they can delay the primaries again. Should that happen, there might be yet another candidate filing period.

Still, many candidates filed, and the parties saw the same rush to the deadlines on Monday that they usually see.

"If you want to be safe instead of sorry, you file today," said Jeff Crosby, a Democratic political consultant. He said there are good reasons not to wait for the next filing period.

"If you're not running, nobody has a reason to be for you, nobody has a reason to give you money and nobody has a reason to give a damn about you," Crosby said. "Politics never rewards that kind of thinking."

Candidates who wait until after the first of the year to file won't have to report campaign finances until later. Filing later gives them a chance to look at their competition's treasuries before making the decision to run. There is no way to know exactly who will run and who won't until the last filing period is over.

"I'm not doing anything differently, but it hasn't happened yet," said Craig Murphy, who runs campaigns for Republican candidates. He and Crosby and others say the lists will change as the maps change.

"You get to change your mind," Murphy said. "You can change races. There's no limits."

There were some surprises in the filings, a few missing names and some confirmations of candidacies that had only been rumored up to now. ESPN analyst and former football player Craig James is a late entry to a crowded Republican field for U.S. Senate. The most prominent Democrat in that race — retired Lt. Gen. Ric Sanchez — announced last week that he won't run after all. On Monday, former state Rep. Paul Sadler, D-Henderson, showed up at the Texas Democratic Party headquarters and threw his hat into the ring.

Former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, a Democrat, filed for Ron Paul's congressional seat. Paul, who's running for president, won't seek another term in Congress.

The elections in November 2010 surprised a lot of incumbents who expected to win and who have now returned for rematches to win their seats back. And as usual, there were a number of incumbents who got beaten in primaries. The list of revenging officeholders-turned-challengers includes Democratic state Reps. Joe Moody of El Paso, Al Edwards of Houston, Carol Kent of Dallas, Solomon Ortiz Jr. of Corpus Christi, Paula Pierson of Arlington and Chris Turner of Burleson. It's not just Democrats: Republican former Reps. Tommy Merritt of Longview and Delwin Jones of Lubbock both signed up.

And the confusion over the maps led to at least one reversal. State Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, announced earlier that she wouldn't seek re-election. Political maps drawn by a panel of federal judges in San Antonio had put her and fellow Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, in the same district. Now that it's not clear that that map will actually be used in the elections, she filed in another district, allowing her to campaign while the maps are worked out.

Some candidates are apparently betting that the maps drawn by the Legislature will be used instead of those drawn by the courts. Former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams filed on Monday for Congress. On the legislative maps, it's an open seat; on the court maps, he'd be challenging U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth.

Judge Larry Meyers isn't up for re-election to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals next year, but he'll be on the ballot. He's challenging Sharon Keller, the court's presiding judge. If she wins, they'll be on the court together — just like they are now — when the new terms start in January 2013.

With all of those caveats about who's in and who's out, and the impermanence of it all, we're unveiling our election brackets for 2012, listing the candidates, the races they're in and the matchups in the primaries. As the year progresses, we'll add the primary runoffs and the general election. That new app can be found here

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