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The Brief: Jan. 30, 2012

In the state's contentious redistricting fight, tight deadlines may end up favoring Democrats.

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The Big Conversation:

In the state's contentious redistricting fight, tight deadlines may end up favoring Democrats.

A three-judge panel in San Antonio met Friday with vying parties to see if they could agree on temporary political maps in time for the state's April 3 primary. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this month 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.

At the end of the day, judges told the two sides that if they can't come to an agreement by Feb. 6, the primary will be pushed back or split into two elections.

But according to The Associated Press, negotiations between the state and minority groups had already begun by the end of the day Friday. And to keep the state's primary on April 3, avoiding a costly split election, Republicans may have to give Democrats the more heavily minority U.S. House seats they've been seeking.

“What’s significant is that there’s never been any discussions. There are now,” said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the San Antonio Democrat who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, one of the minority groups with which the state is negotiating. “Something’s motivating that.”

And The Hill says such negotiations would likely give Texas Democrats at least four more seats in Congress (the party needs about 25 to retake the House).

“They’re backed up against the wall and have to come to some agreement, and it’ll be awfully favorable on our end,” said one of the plaintiffs in the case. Another plaintiff said “it’s clear they know they’re in a vulnerable position, and that’s why they want to settle.”

Two of the plaintiffs said an agreement would likely be reached early this week.

News of the negotiations came a day after testimony wrapped in a Washington-based trial to determine whether the state's original Republican-drawn redistricting maps violate federal Voting Rights Act standards.

Culled:

  • David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz over the weekend released tax returns, following the lead of their fellow U.S. Senate candidate Craig James, who on Thursday released his returns for the last five years and called on his opponents to do the same. Dewhurst released his returns — for just two years — on Friday, reporting a total income of $1.01 million in his 2010 report and a $1.4 million loss in his 2009 report. Cruz on Saturday released his records for all five years, reporting an adjusted gross income of $2 million in 2010.
  • Ron Paul has set his sights on early caucus states to rack up as many delegates as possible, but in Nevada, where he'll head this week, he's also hoping to woo Mormon voters, who propelled Mitt Romney to victory in the state in 2008, and Hispanics, who make up a large portion of the state's population. "The nation is ready for a Mormon president," James Barcia, Paul’s deputy press secretary, told ABC News. "But the question is, do you want someone who is constitutionally observant?"
  • Ahead of Tuesday's Florida primary, polls now show Mitt Romney retaking the lead from Newt Gingrich, whose support appears to have leveled off after his decisive victory in South Carolina. Four Florida polls released Sunday each showed Romney with a double-digit lead over Gingrich, and The New York Times' polling projections now put Romney's odds of winning the state at 97 percent.

"It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. … He would proof it."Renae Hathway, a former secretary for the company that published the inflammatory newsletters Ron Paul produced in the 1990s, to The Washington Post

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