The PJ Tatler

Texas Primary Moved Back to the End of May...Or Later

The largest and most successful red state in America won’t have much of a voice in the Republican presidential primary, if things keep going the way they’re going.

Once set to rule Super Tuesday, the Texas primaries may now slide into May and out of relevance in the Republican presidential race because of disputed redistricting maps that now has a panel of federal judges demanding compromise.

Although the chances of an April primary are not officially extinguished, even the judges acknowledged those prospects are fading because of logistics. Elections workers from some of Texas’ largest counties are pushing May 22 as the next earliest date if maps can be settled quickly.

One could be finished Wednesday after U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ordered the state and minority rights groups to return to court with an agreed-upon map for state Senate.

Texas needs a new map because it gained four new congressional seats after the 2010 census. The lines for those seats and a slew of other district-level seats are in dispute.

Is it possible that the Democrats and their allies in that San Antonio court are purposely dragging the map process out? There’s ample precedent for the Democrats pulling stunts to oppose Republican-drawn maps. They even ran off to Oklahoma a few years ago and holed up in a hotel rather than deal with the reality that Republicans were authorized by the law to re-draw the state’s electoral map, because a majority of Texans had voted Republicans into office. In the current dispute, the attorney general’s office offered a compromise map that gave the various plaintiffs groups just about everything they wanted, but they refused to take yes for an answer. That was a week or two ago, when the primary still looked like it could happen in early April.

Pushing the Texas primary back keeps the presidential race going longer — Newt Gingrich is banking on winning here to bring his candidacy back like Lazarus again — which helps bleed the eventual GOP nominee of time and money, while the president just gets to keep raising money and biding his own time. At the presidential level, the Texas Democratic primary/caucus two-step is irrelevant this year.

The late May (or later) primary would also impact Texas’ ability to choose delegates for the state convention in the summer, which impacts the RNC convention later. Being a big state, what impacts Texas doesn’t stay in Texas. So, in dragging the process out, the Democrats through the plaintiffs would be messing with the entire GOP in a crucial election year. The State Republican Executive Committee might be allowed to find a workaround, but that would have to be cleared by the Obama Department of Justice. This administration hasn’t been a friend to Texas, on any issue.

Despite court-ordered negotiations, the Texas attorney general and minority rights groups suing the state have been unable to compromise for weeks on temporary voting maps for the 2012 elections. On some proposals, only one disputed district stands in the way of a deal.

“The Senate — get it done,’’ Garcia said Tuesday, pointing his finger at the table of minority rights lawyers.

They’ll get it done, eventually. Perhaps we’ll have our 2012 primary in early 2013.