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The Brief: Feb. 15, 2012

Redistricting hearings on Tuesday clarified that the state needs nothing short of a miracle to keep its primaries on track for April.

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The Big Conversation:

Redistricting hearings on Tuesday clarified that the state needs nothing short of a miracle to keep its primaries on track for April.

The federal court in San Antonio tasked with redrawing the state's political maps said as much during a hearing yesterday in which the two parties disputing the state's maps were urged to arrive at a compromise.

Instead of reaching an accord, as the Tribune's Ross Ramsey reports, the seven-hour hearing mostly dwelled on why no agreement had been reached so far.

Lawyers said the two sides still remained too far apart on congressional maps to reach a compromise. Specifically, David Mattax, the state's lead attorney, called disagreements over Austin Democrat Lloyd Doggett's congressional district "insurmountable."

Judges instead told the parties to return to court again at 8 a.m. this morning with an agreement on the state House and state Senate maps.

“Get it resolved," said Judge Orlando Garcia, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

By the end of the day, the judges appeared to have ruled out April primaries. Bexar County Election Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen told the court that for the state to hold primaries on April 24 (they are currently scheduled for April 3), election officials would have needed maps by Tuesday. The judges, citing cost, also seemed to dismiss — though not entirely rule out — the possibility of a split primary, in which the presidential primary would be held in April and most others at a later date.

Callanen called May 29 the most realistic primary date. In that case, the state would need maps by March 3, she said.

Culled:

  • Rick Perry's support for Newt Gingrich, whom he endorsed after dropping out of the presidential race last month, has remained relatively muted in recent weeks. Perry hasn't appeared on the campaign trail with Gingrich and in his first two public speeches since exiting the race hasn't mentioned Gingrich by name. But as the Austin American-Statesman reports, Perry has begun helping Gingrich behind the scenes, placing fundraising calls on his behalf to groups and individual donors. "The finance calls are where Gingrich has enlisted the governor's support," Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told the Statesman. "Gov. Perry stands ready to help his campaign efforts moving forward and believes Gingrich is the best candidate to beat Obama."
  • The Maine Republican Party is under mounting pressure to reconsider its Saturday declaration that Mitt Romney won the state's caucuses, as the Bangor Daily News reports. Several of the state's communities — including Washington County, which rescheduled its caucuses for this Saturday because of inclement weather — were not included in the final results because they hadn't voted by the deadline set by the party. Records also show that tallies in some counties that voted on time were not counted at all. "I think it’s not surprising that there would be very strong objections to the notion that our votes wouldn’t count in Washington County,” said Maine Senate President Kevin Raye.
  • Rick Santorum, still buoyant after claiming a stunning victory in three states last week, is running even with Mitt Romney nationwide, according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll. Though within the margin of error, Santorum leads Romney 30 percent to 27 percent, with Ron Paul in third with 12 percent and Newt Gingrich in fourth with 10 percent.

"Absolutely."Rick Perry to ABC News on whether he might run again for president

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