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Campaign Roundup: The Week's Political News

The wait for primary election dates and political maps continues, and candidates are filling the time trying to win endorsements and raise money.

State Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, left, and Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, debating congressional redistricting maps on the House floor on June 14, 2011.

All eyes remain on San Antonio, where three federal judges will decide when the state's primaries will be held and what maps will be used. Attorneys on all sides have until Friday to file briefs and until Monday to reply; hearings on the maps are set for Feb. 15.

Chances for April congressional and legislative primaries are slim, but there's still a chance that the court could order presidential primaries for that month, with down-ballot elections to be held in May or June. Splitting the primary would force the state to finance an election that's not in the budget, but it would relieve deadline pressure to hold primaries while the presidential nomination is still undecided and in time for the political parties to get ready for their June state conventions.

The state unveiled new redistricting maps on Monday, saying some of the parties in that litigation have signed off on at least some of the lines. In the meantime, the judges told the parties to continue negotiations to try to get on board.

• Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, running for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, got an endorsement from the Texas Retailers Association PAC. He also released an online ad featuring an endorsement from Michael Reagan, son of the late Ronald Reagan. Dewhurst was also endorsed by HOMEPAC, the campaign fund associated with the Texas Association of Builders, and HOSPAC, the political affiliate of the Texas Hospital Association. The PAC also endorsed the three Republican incumbents running for re-election to the Texas Supreme Court: Nathan HechtDavid Medina and Don Willett.

• In Dallas, where longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson has drawn two primary challengers, Taj Clayton led in the finance department in the fourth quarter, raising $216,253. Johnson raised less than half that amount — $95,186 — but ended up with more in the bank. State Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway raised $15,741. She ended the year with $413 in the bank.

• Not dead yet: Gregory Parker, the Comal County commissioner who wants to be on the Texas Railroad Commission, recently "suspended" his campaign, saying he wasn't raising the kind of money it would take to run a serious race for that statewide position. He's still got that campaign email account, though, and something to write home about: He got 63 percent in the Tarrant County GOP straw poll last weekend, and is asking people to donate to "begin the grassfire."

• Texas Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman got endorsements from four former commissioners, all Republicans: Victor Carrillo, Charles Matthews, Michael Williams and Barry Williamson.

• Tom Pauken, the chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission and a former chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, endorsed Randy Stevenson, who's challenging State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff in the Republican primary.

• Philip Cortez, a former City Council member running for state representative in San Antonio's House District 117, won the endorsement of the San Antonio AFL-CIO, the city's firefighters' and police officers' associations and the Bexar County Deputy Sheriff's Association. Cortez is one of three Democrats hoping to challenge Republican Rep. John Garza.

• Ron Simmons, a Republican running for the seat being vacated by state Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, got an "A" from the National Rifle Association, which has not endorsed anyone in that House District 65 race.

• Jason Villalba won the support of the Hispanic Republicans of Texas in his bid for the Texas House in House District 114. That's a Dallas County seat; in one version of the maps, the incumbent is Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas.

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