Texas redistricting settlement on verge of collapse, delaying primaries

A once-promising settlement for Texas's convoluted redistricting battle has stalled, leaving the process once again far from an agreement and likely forcing Texas to move its primary back for a second time.

Texas's redistricting maps are tied up in federal court and are unlikely to stand as they were originally drawn. Because of that a San Antonio court drew an interim map, but that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

No one is sure how the process will play out, but all sides agree that a settlement that looked possible early this week is all but dead in the water, making it likely that Texas will have to push its primary back from April.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) had approached the various plaintiffs last week, seeking a compromise. Most plaintiffs assumed that he would offer a plan close to what they wanted, since the courts have indicated they will throw out the maps drawn by the Republicans in the Texas Legislature. Abbott offered much less than they'd hoped for, leaving the compromise highly in doubt.

"The chances for a settlement [are] remote right now, not impossible, but remote," said one of the plaintiffs. "It doesn’t appear as though the state attorney general was really serious about trying to reach a settlement. They’ve resisted talking to all the parties and the proposals haven't been made in good faith."

Without the compromise the multiple-court process will drag on — one of the courts said no decision will be made for at least another 30 days. This will force Texas to either move all of its primaries back or split the presidential race off to keep its date on April 3 and hold two primaries. That will only happen if the state agrees to pay for two primaries, which is unlikely.

Following the apparent collapse in talks, the Texas Republican Party released an advisory on "the redistricting saga" that explained at least some of the primaries would be delayed.

"The schedule put forth by the court today does not lend itself to an April 3rd unified primary date," the release said. "While it is still theoretically possible to have an April 17th primary date (if the court issues a very quick decision after the February 15th hearing and immediately drew new maps), in all likelihood, this new schedule means that a new single unified primary date could not be held until at least April 24th."

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