Republican sources tell me that there is disgruntlement toward the attorney general among Republican House members. Their gripe is: The attorney general’s office had a “lackadaisical” attitude toward the case; or, alternatively, “Abbott didn’t have his A team on this.” Abbott’s ballyhooed strategy was an attempt to win the case through forum-shopping. The AG’s legal team thought they had figured out how to wire around the Obama Justice Department, which was to choose the option of taking the case before a three-judge federal court in the District of Columbia and bypass a trial by moving for summary judgment on all the maps in controversy. The problem is, the two Bush appointees on the panel didn’t take a partisan position. The Court denied summary judgment and announced its intention to hold a full trial on the merits at a future date. One unexpected problem Abbott encountered at the San Antonio trial is that one of his own expert witness–John Alford, a political science professor at Rice University– went south on him. Alford testified that he would have done things differently from the Legislature’s congressional redistricting map that Abbott was defending, in particular the configuration for the 23rd congressional district, currently represented by Republican Quico Canseco. The Legislature, according to Alford’s testimony, took high-turnout Latino precincts out of the district and exchanged them for low-turnout Latino precincts. I am certain that we will hear more about the redistricting case(s). If the state loses the appeal on the merits, Abbott will probably appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
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