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Between the Lines: Chandler Vulnerable as Map Impasse Ensues

Don't break out the bourbon quite yet.

With a deadline looming, one way or another, the state's drawn-out Congressional redistricting process might soon be coming to an end. But there are plenty of ways it could get hung up before the Bluegrass State has a new map.

Frankfort insiders have seen movement on Congressional map negotiations in recent days, with both parties exchanging information. Some plugged-in operatives think a solution is on the horizon.

But compromise has been hard to come by.

This week, Gov. Steve Beshear (D) signed a bill into law postponing the filing deadline for Congress until Feb. 7. It had been set for Jan. 31, but a deadlocked Legislature wasn't able to agree on a new map.

The state House is controlled by Democrats; the state Senate is controlled by Republicans; neither appear to be controlled by people comfortable with Congressional compromise.

Sticking points continue to be the political makeup of the 6th district, currently held by Rep. Ben Chandler (D), and the placement of the city of Ashland, currently in the 4th district but near the border of the 5th. Where the city of
Owensboro lands is also a point of contention.

If the two chambers cannot come to a compromise before the new filing deadline, the lines are almost certain to be drawn by a court, as the filing deadline is unlikely to be moved again. That might help Democrats in the long term (they hold only two of the commonwealth's six seats), but anything other than an incumbent-protection map could hamstring Chandler's bid for a sixth term.

"All the rumblings, all the indications are that it might be going to court," one Frankfort Democratic insider said.

Chandler faces a rematch with Lexington attorney Andy Barr (R), who lost by 647 votes in 2010.

Texas: Lack of New House Map Impedes Fundraising

Can House candidates fundraise without a district? It certainly makes it more difficult.

"The failure of Texas to resolve redistricting has left every candidate, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, in a hard position to raise money," said Matt Angle, a Democratic strategist from Texas and a redistricting expert.

The Lone Star State's Congressional redistricting process imploded during the last three months of 2011 as the federal courts took up the proposed map.

Candidates are standing by to hear whether the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will grant preclearance to the map originally passed by the state Legislature last summer. Preclearance doesn't seem likely, according to several reports on the court case, but the courts indicated a ruling could take at least a month.

Meanwhile, another federal court in San Antonio might attempt a second stab at drawing the map after its first draft was overturned by the Supreme Court.

Aspiring House candidates attempted to continue their campaigns even though, in some cases, they were left without a district number to put on their filing form. The result was far from lucrative, according to fourth-quarter fundraising reports filed this week.

Former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams (R) pulled in just $44,000 in the quarter. Williams filed to run in a GOP seat around Austin, which has been carved up a couple of different ways under competing maps.

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