The Big Conversation:
Hopes for a quick fix this week to the state's redistricting deadlock may have been dashed.
Negotiations between minority groups and the state of Texas over redistricting maps have broken down, The Associated Press reports.
A federal panel in San Antonio last week gave the two parties — at odds over whether the state's original Republican-backed maps discriminate against minorities — until Feb. 6 to agree on a new set of temporary maps if they want to keep the state's primaries on April 3.
On Friday, representatives for the minority groups seemed optimistic about the negotiations, saying an agreement would likely be reached early this week. But Luis Vera, general counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens, one of the nine minority groups suing over the maps, said negotiations fell apart Sunday.
"Negotiations went really, really bad yesterday," Vera told the Austin American-Statesman on Monday. "They are dead for now."
Vera indicated that the state had offered deals that would benefit Hispanic groups at the possible expense of black groups. Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP, one of the groups fighting the maps, told the AP that the state has so far mainly negotiated with Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.
“We want to see a package that is good for Latinos and the African-American community,” Bledsoe told the San Antonio Express-News.
But state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the San Antonio Democrat who chairs MALC, said negotiations stalled with his group because it had shifted its focus to Washington, D.C., where a federal panel will hear closing arguments today over whether the state's original maps violated the Voting Rights Act.
"Talking with the attorney general's office is certainly important, but our priority is to finish the litigation," Martinez Fischer told the Express-News. "If those talks resume after we return from Washington, that'd be great."
- After outraising all of his Republican opponents in the third quarter of 2011 with a $17.2 million haul, Rick Perry collected only $2.9 million in the fourth quarter, according to financial disclosures released late Monday. The campaign burned through $14.2 million ahead of the Iowa caucuses, where Perry finished in fifth place with just 10 percent of the vote, and reported debts of $93,745 as of the end of the year.
- Mitt Romney looks headed to victory in today's Florida primary, a contest that Ron Paul has skipped almost entirely. So why might Paul win more delegates this week than either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum? As the Christian Science Monitor notes, the Maine caucuses began this weekend, though most cities and towns will caucus during the state Republican Party's preferred window of Feb. 4-11 (results will be announced on the 11th). And the Paul campaign has set its sights on small caucuses states like Maine to rack up delegates.
- The Dallas Morning News reported Monday that Republican Scott O'Grady has suspended his bid for the Texas Senate seat soon to be vacated by Florence Shapiro, R-Plano. Though in a statement he cited "the uncertainty of a primary election date from redistricting," O'Grady would have likely faced a tough Republican primary battle against state Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney. O'Grady instead may run for Paxton's seat in the House.
"When you take all the non-Romney votes, it’s very likely that at the convention there will be a non-Romney majority and maybe a very substantial one. My job is to convert that into a Gingrich majority." — Newt Gingrich to Politico on his post-Florida strategy, which includes amassing delegates in Southern states, including Texas
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- Inmate sues over prison beard ban, Austin American-Statesman
- Mexico says drought also hurting marijuana growers, The Associated Press
- Jon Stewart, Lou Dobbs Spar Over Redistricting, The Texas Tribune