The Texas primary was originally slated to be one of eleven primaries held on Super Tuesday, but a long, drawn-out redistricting map battle forced the powers that be to reschedule the vote for April 3.
And now the date is being pushed again. Judge Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said the primary will “probably” be May 29, a full 84 days after Super Tuesday. This essentially ensures the state will have minimal influence on the GOP primary battle, as “all but six states will have voted in the Republican race by then,” according to the New York Times‘ Manny Fernandez. (This is bad news for Newt Gingrich, who is the strongest GOP contender in Texas in polls.)
And the push affects more than the presidential primary. In the race to fill U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat, Burnt Orange Report’s Ben Sherman opines that the new date helps all the “non-Dewhurst candidates.” Slate‘s David Weigel singled out Ted Cruz as the benefactor of the delay: “The political beneficiary of this: Probably Ted Cruz, the conservative editorialist-beloved Senate candidate who gets yet more time to cut into Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s lead,” he wrote.
But Sean Sullivan at the National Journal argues that Leppert could actually creep up and threaten Cruz’s runner-up status: “The longer the race goes on, the harder it will be for Cruz to keep pace, financially, with the deep-pocketed Leppert, something that could also be a factor in the closing stage of the race.”
As for the problem that started the primary shuffle, the redistricting maps are still up in the air, though both sides settled on state Senate maps on Wednesday that return Senate District 10 to its 2001 boundaries. State senator Wendy Davis sent out a victorious tweet hailing the settlement:
@mcpli SD10 partners victorious on preserving&strengthening ’08 district. Lege damage repaired. Thanks to all who supported&believed.
— Wendy Davis (@wendydavistexas) February 15, 2012
However, involved parties are still tussling over Texas’ state House and congressional maps, according to Hearst’s Joe Holley and Nolan Hicks, who were on hand for a federal hearing on the redistricting work in San Antonio:
Lawyers for both sides spent most of Wednesday morning sparring over whether the panel of three federal judges in San Antonio that is charged with drawing district maps for the 2012 election has the authority to undo the legislature’s decision to split Austin into five congressional districts. Democrats contend that the original map was designed for the sole purpose of defeating longtime U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin.