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Between the Lines: Texas Freshmen Freaked About Perry Power

Texas GOP House Members are publicly pushing Gov. Rick Perry (R) to take up Congressional redistricting in a still-to-be-announced special session, lest a three-judge panel determine their fate.

It’s a tall order for Perry, who has a notoriously tense relationship with the Lone Star State’s Congressional delegation. But if a new Congressional map has not passed the state Legislature by Monday at midnight, which is very likely at this point, Texas House Members will be stuck having the courts draw the new boundaries unless Perry takes up the map.

“We’re all just on pins and needles,” Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco (R) told Roll Call. “I don’t know what’s going to happen or where we’re going to go. We may be thrown into the courts, or maybe the governor will call a special session to do it. I don’t know, and I wish I did.”

Canseco is one of three freshman Republicans in Texas who won Democratic seats and whose district would be at risk if the judges draw the map. Even though Texas will gain four new House seats, if the courts wind up doing the new lines, it’s anybody’s guess whether he’ll have a winnable district in 2012.

“I’d much rather see a Texas Legislature resolve it than the court system. But I’ll be happy to run in whatever they draw for me,” said fellow freshman Rep. Blake Farenthold. “I have confidence that if we can’t get the procedural votes in the Texas Legislature to suspend the rules, Gov. Perry will do the right thing and call a special session and let the Legislature draw it.”

More senior members of the delegation are also pinning their hopes on a special session, including National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, who said through a spokeswoman that he “is confident that any outstanding issues can be resolved thoughtfully in a special session.”

But while drawing up a new map during special session is the better option, it’s still just the lesser of two evils for the delegation.

If state lawmakers pass a map during special session, Perry will ultimately have control over it — and it’s likely the delegation won’t love the result. There’s still bad blood between Perry and the Texas delegation, which largely supported Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R) bid against the governor in 2010.

“If Perry takes control of the process, then at least you know that it will be a Republican-friendly map. It may not be a delegation-friendly map,” said one Texas GOP source close to the redistricting process. “He’s essentially let the Texas delegation know, ‘Don’t come to me with any favors.’ Read between the lines: The Congressional delegation, at least two-thirds of them, endorsed KBH in the primary.”

Perry has said he prefers not to call a special session, especially only to finish Congressional redistricting. But if certain issues pertaining to the budget, specifically school funding, are not resolved before Monday, the Legislature will likely go into overtime. Still, it’s up to Perry if he’d like to add Congressional redistricting to the agenda for a special session or even hold one at all.

Rep. Joe Barton (R) filed a lawsuit last weekend over the Legislature’s inaction on Congressional redistricting in an effort to make sure the matter stays out of the hands of the three-judge panel.

The Texas delegation’s point man on redistricting, Rep. Lamar Smith (R), declined to comment Tuesday.

Illinois: Get Out the New Map Already

The clock is also ticking in Illinois, where the state legislative session is scheduled to end Tuesday.

The stakes are high for Democrats because the state is losing a House seat. State lawmakers are expected to draw new boundaries around the five freshman Republicans’ districts to make them tougher to hold in 2012.

“Nobody has any idea. I’ve heard everybody being tossed in with everybody right now, so we’ll see when it comes out,” freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger said. “We’re shut out of the whole process.”

Some Democratic Members have already seen their future territory, including Rep. Mike Quigley, whose new district will likely stretch into the western suburbs. “Any way you look at it, I have to gain 64,000 votes,” he told Roll Call.

Washington: No Hearty Welcome for Kucinich

Voters don’t appear too receptive to a potential Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) House candidacy in their home state.

Only 12 percent of the state’s voters think Kucinich should run for the House, according to a new survey from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

Ohio will lose two House seats in 2012, and Kucinich’s House district has already been targeted for removal when state legislators redraw the Congressional boundaries later this year. In an effort to stay in Congress, Kucinich has floated the idea of moving to another state to run for the House. He has focused much of his attention on Washington, with repeat visits to the state this spring.

But the most recent survey of Evergreen State voters suggests he might want to rethink his plans. Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed do not think it’s a good idea for Kucinich to run in Washington, while 53 percent said they didn’t even know Kucinich.

Even the state’s Democrats aren’t pleased with his potential House candidacy, with only 22 percent supporting the idea and 35 percent disapproving of it.

The survey took the opinion of 1,098 Washington voters from May 12 to 15 and had a margin of error of 3 points.

Send news items on redistricting to Between the Lines here.

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