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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.

State Rep. Marc Veasey (D) announced he'd run in the Fort Worth-area seat drawn by the San Antonio court — a district later rejected by the Supreme Court. He raised just $46,000 in the quarter.

Former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D), whose preferred district is also in flux, raised only $78,000 in the fourth quarter — including a $50,000 loan from his own wallet.

At least two incumbents were outraised by their primary opponents. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson's (D) primary challenger, Taj Clayton, raised more than twice her haul.

Across the state, Rep. Silvestre Reyes' (D) primary opponent also raised more cash than the Congressman did. Former El Paso City Councilmember Beto O'Rourke raised $222,000, while Reyes raised $180,000.

Arizona: Republican Drafts New Map for Special Ballot

At least one Republican is pressing on with the fight against the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's map.

State Speaker Andy Tobin (R) has been secretly drafting an alternative redistricting map, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.

The Times reported that only a single House staffer knew about the effort. Even Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and state Senate President Steve Pierce (R) were in the dark about Tobin's efforts.

The map would have to be submitted as a referendum in a special election. According to a member of Tobin's staff, the special election could occur in May but that date is "not solidified."

The Times reports the cost of a special election could be $8.3 million.

Republicans were enraged with the map the independent commission produced last fall. Despite GOP control of the governorship and Legislature, the AIRC map allows for Democratic gains within the state's House delegation.

The current AIRC map is awaiting Justice Department approval.

Virginia: GOP Officials Suggest New Primary Date

The Congressional redistricting process appeared completed last week, but it now might be far from over.

A top state GOP official proposed moving the primary back two months as a result of continuing legal challenges to the new map.

On Tuesday, the Virginia Supreme Court denied the state's challenge to a recent court ruling that allowed a lawsuit contesting the General Assembly's authority to draw new Congressional lines to move forward.

Last week, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed the GOP-controlled Legislature's redistricting plan, and the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond refused to dismiss a challenge arguing that the state Constitution mandates the Legislature complete the decennial redistricting process in 2011.

In a statement, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said the state will "continue to seek to protect" the map signed by McDonnell. He also said the state's Congressional primaries, currently scheduled for June 12, should now be moved to August given this delay in the process.

"If this is not done, Congressional primaries currently scheduled for June may be disrupted if the new district lines are not approved by the federal government within the short time frame remaining," Cuccinelli said.

The map, as passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor, gives Republicans a strong opportunity to hold their current 8-3 majority in the Congressional delegation, with one majority-minority district. State Senate Democrats have argued that there should be a second minority-influenced district given the state's 20 percent African-American population.

The map still must receive preclearance from the Justice Department or a federal court to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

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