Over the weekend, it was reported that redistricting plaintiffs (minority and Democratic groups) were poised to win big in a settlement over the map used for the 2012 elections, in return for the ability to hold an early April primary that makes Texas more relevant in the Republican presidential primary.
Michael Li blogged about it over the weekend, writing:
Sources cautioned, though, that there are many moving pieces to the deal and that it is not clear whether it will be possible to get all plaintiff groups on board. Some closely involved in the process are said to be concerned that the state is attempting to divide and conquer plaintiff groups in negotiations and that any partial deal could prove to be divisive.
Makes sense, right? The State of Texas — which in this case has aims that are essentially identical to those of the Republican Party — would try to split up the plaintiff group to eke out the least-bad settlement that preserves as much of the Legislature's map and ensuing Republican seats as possible.
If some members of the plaintiff group consider working with Attorney General Greg Abbott on a short-sighted settlement that only benefits some, not all members of the plaintiff group, that's bad news for everyone in Texas.
The plaintiffs look poised to win in court, so it's in the best interest of Abbott, the State of Texas, and the Republican Party to settle and try to eke out any gains they can, while they still have a chance. Since the Republicans' prime motivation seems to be an early primary, that gives extreme urgency to the proceedings, since maps need to be finalized and county elections divisions need to know to get a move-on to be able to hold April primaries.
The incumbent and establishment Republicans seem to want an early primary not only so our state matters in the overall Presidential nomination process, but also to avoid a split primary where Tea Party challengers would have a much easier time knocking out incumbent State Senators, congress members, and legislators.
The DC Circuit court is poised to rule on the pre-clearance trial over the Legislature's initial illegal racist gerrymandered maps, which most people involved expect to be out within two weeks. That ruling could toss the Legislature's maps for good, and in turn result in the San Antonio panel being instructed to draw a new map that's much closer to the interim maps previously tossed by the Supreme Court. However, such a timeline makes an April 3 primary essentially impossible. The issue for the Republicans here is timing — they want their early April primary, which means all parties need to get on the same page regarding maps ASAP. Hence, the push to settle.
However, if settlement isn't in the best issue of the combined aims of the plaintiffs, then it's not in the best interest of the people in Texas, all of whom deserve fair representation.
It's bad if Abbott convinces plaintiffs to split off and benefit a few, rather than all members of the group. It's even worse if any members of the plaintiff group seek out a private settlement that doesn't help solve all of our redistricting woes. Dividing and conquering for immediate political gain is short-sighted, as it destroys coalitions and makes it harder for all of us to win the big stuff: specifically, the statewide races we need to take back Texas.
If a settlement deal is on the table that doesn't benefit all plaintiffs and all minority groups and regions of Texas, then it's a bad deal, and plaintiffs should get back together to work out a deal that benefits everyone.
Here in Texas, the only way for Democrats, progressives, minorities to win is if we all stick together. We win sooner and we win bigger if we're all in it together. Let's hope that this deal never happens and the plaintiffs get together on a settlement that benefits everyone in Texas who has been harmed by the Republican Legislature's illegal gerrymandered maps.
We'll keep you updated on this story as it develops.