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The Brief: Jan. 27, 2012

The state's April 3 primaries hang in the balance as the state's increasingly intricate redistricting fight moves back to Texas.

State Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin, looks through redistricting maps on display during debate on the House floor on June 14...

The Big Conversation:

The state's April 3 primaries hang in the balance as the state's increasingly intricate redistricting fight moves back to Texas.

A day after testimony wrapped in a Washington-based trial to determine whether the state's redistricting maps violate federal Voting Rights Act standards, a three-judge panel in San Antonio will meet today with vying parties to see if they can agree on temporary maps in time for the April 3 primary.

The San Antonio judges said Monday that they are "giving serious consideration" to splitting the April 3 primary into two elections if the two parties can't come to an agreement by Feb. 6.

Today's meeting could determine the specifics of such a split primary, though the state would likely keep its presidential primary on April 3 and move most or all other elections to a later date, as the judges suggested on Monday.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the San Antonio panel, which was tasked last year with redrawing the state's maps as they awaited federal approval, hadn't given proper consideration to plans passed over the summer by the Republican-led state Legislature.

The San Antonio judges must now redraw those temporary maps as they await a ruling from the Washington court, which will hear closing arguments on Tuesday.

Culled:

  • The San Antonio Express-News reports that the bill for the security detail that accompanied Gov. Rick Perry on the presidential campaign trail totals nearly $800,000, according to a report released Thursday by the Department of Public Safety. Earlier this week, Democrats called on Perry to reimburse the state for the costs, but the governor's office has said it wasn't Perry's decision to bring a security detail on the trail.
  • U.S. Senate candidate Craig James, the former ESPN analyst, released his tax returns for the last five years on Thursday and called on his opponents to follow suit. "We must have the full confidence and trust of Texas voters and that starts by proving we have nothing to hide," James said in a press release. "That kind of transparency will enable the public to decide who is best qualified to fight for them in Washington." Though candidates aren't required to release tax information, such records have recently begun to figure prominently in American politics, including the 2012 presidential race, in which opponents have pressed Mitt Romney to share his financial history.
  • New polling shows that Rick Perry's approval numbers in Texas have tanked since his failed presidential run, but as the Tribune's Thanh Tan and Justin Dehn report, Perry's defenders, including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, say he remains a powerful figure in the state. "I wouldn't be surprised if he runs for governor again," says Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan. "And I wouldn't be surprised at all if he ran for president again."
  • The Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday approved raising the speed limit to 75 mph on about 1,500 more miles of highway in 60 Texas counties, according to the Austin American-Statesman. A state law passed last year permits a 75 mph speed limit on rural highways where that speed has been deemed safe and where at least 85 percent of drivers currently drive close to 75 mph.

"I don’t think we should go to moon. I think we maybe should send some politicians up there."Ron Paul at Thursday night's CNN debate when asked about Newt Gingrich's promise to build a lunar colony and develop a spacecraft that could get to Mars by the end of his second term

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