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Between the Lines: New Kentucky Map Deadlocked in State Legislature

After appearing to have a deal, the state Legislature is deadlocked over a new Congressional redistricting map, raising the prospect of having the court draw the lines and leaving Bluegrass State politics in turmoil.

The Republican-held state Senate and the Democratic-held state House couldn’t come to a deal before the filing deadline for Congressional candidates, which was Tuesday.

“Speaker [Greg] Stumbo [D] indicated that there’s not going to be any movement after what happened [Tuesday],” said Brian Wilkerson, the Speaker’s communications director. Democrats placed blame on state Senate Republicans. “We thought we had a deal,” Wilkerson said, “but it didn’t happen, but not because of our end.”

But a spokeswoman for the state Senate President said the process isn’t complete. “No decisions have been made on our part, we’re still reaching out,” Lourdes Baez-Schrader said. “It’s not over yet.”

Until a new map is drawn, Stumbo said candidates will run in the current districts, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Because the decade-old districts are no long equal in population, unchanged lines are likely to be challenged in court and probably redrawn there.

Still, hope springs eternal. Republicans familiar with the process said negotiations are ongoing and a compromise may yet be reached.

But one veteran Republican in Frankfort thought the map would almost certainly go to the courts.

“How do you redraw the districts when the filing deadline has already passed?” the source asked. “After it’s passed, if you start screwing around with it, it sets a terrible precedent.”

The source said it was “Senate Republicans who blew [the deal] up.”

One of the key sticking points in negotiations was the new makeup of the tossup 6th district, currently represented by Rep. Ben Chandler (D). He faces a rematch with Lexington attorney Andy Barr. In 2010, Chandler eked out another term by only 647 votes.

Barr sent out a plea to his supporters earlier this week asking them to call their state Senators and urge them to oppose the compromise map, which was likely to make the 6th district less favorable to his candidacy.

Reached Wednesday, Barr told Roll Call he would continue to campaign under the current lines. “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “What we’ve always said with redistricting, the Bluegrass region should remain intact and should not be divided into multiple Congressional districts.”

Minnesota: Still No Deal With Deadline Approaching

In a “last ditch effort,” Republican legislators pitched a redistricting plan to their Democratic counterparts last week, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The Tribune reports that the proposed map was an attempt to prevent Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) from being drawn into a Member-vs.-Member race against either Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) or Rep. Betty McCollum (D).

The proposal ultimately fell apart when Republicans “sought the assurance” that Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton would commit to a deal; Democratic legislators “could not deliver” such a promise.

The Republican Legislature passed a map in 2011 that sought to maintain the current House delegation makeup of four Democrats and four Republicans, but Dayton vetoed it. The two branches have until Feb. 21 to come to an agreement. If they fail, a five-judge panel will draw the lines.

Texas: Parties Will Meet Again Feb. 15 in San Antonio

Lone Star State officials will almost certainly be forced to move the April 3 primary after failing to meet the Feb. 6 deadline for completing a compromise map.

State Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Monday they had come to an agreement over a new map, but the vast majority of the plaintiffs disagreed with it.

As a result, a federal court in San Antonio made it clear this would not count as an acceptable compromise but said both parties should continue to negotiate.

The court reiterated that both parties would meet Wednesday for a status conference.

In the meantime, it’s very likely officials will have to reschedule the primary or split the primaries on two dates.

Party officials are resistant to changing the primary date, in part because they would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in hotel reservations made for their respective party conventions.

Rhode Island: Chafee Signs New Line Into Law

Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) signed into law Wednesday the redistricting plan that the state Legislature passed last week.

Rep. David Cicilline (D) is the big winner under the new map. It is anticipated he will have a tough re-election race this cycle, but his redrawn district shifts Democratic voters from fellow Democratic Rep. James Langevin’s 2nd district into Cicilline’s 1st district.

In the fall, the discussion about shifting voters was a source of tension between the two men.

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