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RIP, redistricting?

Holy crap, David Dewhurst is holding a press conference right now amid rumors that there are enough votes in the Senate to kill redistricting.

Rumors swept the Senate floor Monday afternoon that 10 Democrats and Sen. Bill Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, are opposed to debating congressional redistricting. Several senators, who asked not to be identified, were the source of the speculation that the primary issue for the special session may be dying — or dead.

Leading up to the news conference, there were conflicting reports whether Ratliff had signed the letter or simply delivered it to Dewhurst.

“I am going to leave any comment to the lieutenant governor,” Ratliff said.

Ten of the Senate’s 12 Democrats signed the letter after a Democratic caucus meeting Monday morning. The only two Democrats who did not sign were Sens. Ken Armbrister, D-Victoria, and Frank Madla, D-San Antonio.

By Senate rules, it takes two thirds of the 31 senators to bring any bill up for debate. Eleven can block the bill.

Ratliff is one of several Republican senators who have voiced opposition to a House map that would produce at least 21 Republican members of congress but would split some local communities to accomplish that goal. Democrats now hold a 17 to 15 edge in the state’s congressional delegation.

Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, D-Austin, said, “I feel secure at this point that there will be 11 — at least.”

If 11 or more senators agree to block debate, Dewhurst will face a dilemma. He could have the Senate consider rewriting its rules to allow a simple majority — 16 senators — to bring up the bill for debate. However, that would break a Senate tradition that dates to the 1950s and is considered sacred by many members in both parties.

We should know soon enough. Stay tuned. Byron is on top of this as well.

UPDATE: Ratliff is officially opposed. Dewhurst is considering all options. A post is up at Polstate.

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  1. ByronUT says:

    Charles, you beat me to PolState. I’m pretty much shocked about this Ratliff stuff. I really thought that he’d hold out until a map was out there on the table.

  2. I’m confused about the position of Hispanic lobbyists over redistricting. Didn’t the House plan increase the number of minority districts?

  3. Short answer, Binkley, is no. The 25th was claimed to be redone as a black opportunity district, and the 29th as a Hispanic district (in truth, the 29th already is a Hispanic opportunity district), but no one outside of Ron Wilson and Tom DeLay made those claims.