Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Texas Senate Cash on Hand

I looked at the December 31 cash on hand numbers for Senate incumbents and challengers.  They are:

Senator    Cash on Hand Candidate   COH       Candidate   COH
Birdwell     $230,941
Carona      $130,032
Davis         $681,362       Hancock $603,756    Shelton      $256,105
Deuell        $225,489
Duncan      $313,085
Ellis        $1,656,688
Eltife      $1,443,353
Estes        $242,938
Fraser    $1,408,726
Gallegos   $111,080
Harris                               Anderson $72,864    Goodman          $504
Hegar     $1,177,917
Hinojosa    $386,058
Huffman     $704,433
Jackson                            Taylor $169,778         Norman      $11,534
Lucio             $5,120
Nelson       $950,603
Nichols      $378,998
Ogden                              Schwertner $249,734  Bius              $8,717
Patrick    $1,004,940
Rodriguez  $103,255
Seliger     $1,309,418
Shapiro                            Paxton $853,876         O'Grady      $36,842
Uresti           $76,487
VandePutte $182,432
Watson    $1,551,539
Wentworth $183,440       Jones $200,353           Campbell       $4,511
West        $1,242,274
Whitmire  $5,113,361
Williams      $675,965
Zaffirini    $1,203,493

  1. When the San Antonio court issues an interim map, there will be a 60 to 75 day sprint to the primary election.  The cash on hand numbers are probably a pretty good indication of what the races will look like.
  2. Both Sen. Davis and Rep. Hancock put up strong numbers in SD 10.
  3. Rep. Anderson appears well positioned in SD 9 assuming Hancock runs in SD 10.
  4. Rep. Taylor is the clear favorite in SD 11, but has not raised sufficient funds so far to inoculate himself from a Steve Mostyn funding blitz.
  5. Rep. Schwertner remains the clear favorite in SD 5.
  6. Sen. Patrick breaks a $1 million, demonstrating fundraising ability to go with his statewide grassroots appeal should he run for Lieutenant Governor in 2014.
  7. Rep. Paxton is the overwhelming favorite in SD 8.
  8. Sen. Wentworth and Commissioner Jones are financially competitive with each other in SD 25.
  9. Finally -- it is good to be the Dean!  Sen. Whitmire reports over $5 million.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Supreme Court Rules on Texas Redistricting

The U. S. Supreme Court overturned the San Antonio court redistricting map this morning, opined that the court must give much greater deference to the legislative map, and remanded the case for further proceedings in the San Antonio court.  The ruling was per curiam, meaning that it was unsigned.  There were no dissents to the ruling, and there was a concurring opinion from Justice Thomas stating that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was unconstitutional.
The San Antonio court has previously ordered a filing deadline of February 1 and a primary election date of April 3.  I believe one of two scenarios will now occur.  Scenario 1:  The San Antonio court will produce new interim maps next week consistent with the Supreme Court ruling, allowing the April 3 primary election to occur.  To produce maps this quickly, the court will rely heavily on the legislative plan and only make changes where it is certain to the court that there is a constitutional or VRA violation.  Scenario 2:  The San Antonio court will not produce a map next week but rather will wait on the D.C. court to issue a ruling in the VRA Section 5 proceeding.  This ruling will not occur until February at the earliest -- necessitating the Texas elections to be postponed further, probably until at least May.
The Supreme Court continues to act with exceptional speed in the Texas proceeding.  By issuing the opinion today (Monday would have been the normal day to release the ruling), it clearly is giving the San Antonio court the opportunity to rule in time for an April 3 election date.  If the court fails to do so, responsibility for further postponing the election will be borne by the San Antonio court and not the Supreme Court.  
The Supreme Court also has made it clear that the San Antonio court must follow the legislative plan unless it finds a likelihood of a Section 2 violation or a “reasonable probability” of a Section 5 violation.  The plaintiffs suing to set aside the legislative plan have the burden of proof, which is significant.
It is obvious the Supreme Court is putting pressure on the San Antonio court to issue a plan that is very close to the legislative plan, only changing as necessary any districts that likely violate the VRA.  Whether the San Antonio court will move quickly at this point is anyone’s guess.  The ball is firmly in their court.
In closing, I will note that I received pushback when I wrote the following after attending the Supreme Court January 9 hearing:
I was right.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Initial Impressions on SCOTUS Redistricting Hearing

I attended oral arguments this afternoon at the Supreme Court regarding the Texas redistricting maps.  My initial observations are as follows:

1.  There are clearly five votes to do something:  This question is what?  In my observations, Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas are likely to overturn the San Antonio court map.  However, it is not clear how or when.

2.  I believe that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”) is definitely in play before the court.  Chief Justice Roberts stated that the constitutionality of the VRA as a whole is not before the court, but clearly Section 5 is.

3.  What appeared to trouble a majority of the court is that no deference is being given to the legislative maps, even though there has been no finding of violation by the legislative maps.  There was much discussion regarding redistricting being about policy choices, and a majority of the court seemed uncomfortable with judges making policy choices as opposed to the legislature.

4.  Chief Justice Roberts (I believe it was he) indicated that the court needed to have a plan in effect by February 1.  Justice Alito questioned why Texas couldn’t simply push its elections back in order to give the courts more time to complete their proceedings.  In response to a question from Justice Sotomayor, the answer was given that some states have legislative primaries as late as September.

5.  My read of the oral argument is that the Supreme Court is likely to issue an opinion before the end of January.  I believe that ruling will overturn the San Antonio court plan, and instruct that greater deference be given to the legislative plan.

6.  However, it also appears likely to me that the DC court will not preclear the legislative plan.  At one point when the discussion was about the DC court proceedings and when they were likely to conclude (Mr. Garza stated within 30 days), the Chief Justice then asked “And when do you expect that appeal to be back before us?”
After reading other blogs and articles about the hearing, I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks.