The Big Conversation:
Yet another delay has pushed Texas one step closer to postponing its April 3 primaries.
The federal panel in Washington, D.C., weighing whether the state's Republican-drawn redistricting maps violate federal voting rights laws said Wednesday that it won't issue a ruling in the next 30 days, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
The panel heard closing arguments Tuesday and was expected by some to rule as early as next week. A ruling would have helped guide a separate federal panel in San Antonio tasked with drawing temporary maps while the state awaits a ruling from D.C.
But the new delay has again thrown the primary schedule into disarray.
State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the San Antonio Democrat who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, one of the minority groups fighting the GOP-drawn maps, said in a statement, "This undoubtedly reduces the chances of an April 3rd primary and absent a resolution by the litigants Texas might have a primary in the summer."
Michael Li, a lawyer and redistricting expert, told the Austin American-Statesman that an "April 3rd primary clearly is dead, absent an agreement" but said the state could hold the primaries two weeks later, on April 17, if the San Antonio court proceeds without waiting for the D.C. court. The court has also indicated that it may split the April 3 primary into two elections.
The San Antonio panel last week gave the state and the coalition of minority groups until Feb. 6 to agree on a new set of temporary maps if they want to keep the state's primaries on April 3. But stalled negotiations between minority groups and the state may prevent the court from moving forward.
- The Ron Paul team may have found a new campaign pitch: A vote for Ron Paul is a vote for Rand Paul. The elder Paul's national campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, told The Dallas Morning News that the presidential candidate may wield enough influence within the Republican Party to eventually land his son, a U.S. senator from Kentucky, a spot on the GOP ticket this year. "Any Republican should be looking at Rand Paul as a potential running mate, because he’s the smartest guy in the room. And he has tremendous credibility with conservatives," Benton said. "Any Republican should have Rand Paul on his short list."
- Peace prevailed at a U.S. Senate candidate forum on Wednesday, with the four major Republican candidates largely agreeing with one another and aiming most of their barbs at Barack Obama. All of the candidates said they want to save Social Security, and all said they would oppose holding a constitutional convention for a balanced budget amendment. One jab came from former ESPN analyst Craig James, who said after Ted Cruz hit David Dewhurst over government spending, "Let the record show that it took 30 minutes for Cruz to get after Dewhurst here."
- The Austin American-Statesman reports that Jay Kimbrough, the former deputy chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, has landed a new gig as an assistant director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Kimbrough, one of Gov. Rick Perry's longtime friends and advisers, most recently appeared in the news for revealing a pocketknife as he was being fired from his job at A&M in September.
"I believe Hispanics have been used as scapegoats, to say, they're the problem instead of being a symptom maybe of a problem with the welfare state. In Nazi Germany they had to have scapegoats to blame, and they turned on the Jews." — Ron Paul to a largely Hispanic crowd in Nevada on Wednesday. Paul also told the group that he opposed the DREAM Act, which would aid the children of illegal immigrants.
- For Romney and Paul, a strategic alliance between outsider and establishment, The Washington Post
- Why Ron Paul could rally in February caucuses, Christian Science Monitor
- Interactive: Where Are the Uninsured in Texas?, The Texas Tribune