AUSTIN, Texas -- Bitter Republican infighting over congressional redistricting could damage the role of Texas in Democratic presidential politics.
As the clock ticked yesterday without a deal on redistricting, a delay in the March 2 Texas primary became increasingly likely.
That could leave state Democrats without much influence in picking their party's nominee to challenge President Bush next year, because one of the Democratic candidates might have the party's nomination sewn up before a delayed Texas vote.
Lawmakers on both sides of the Legislature had hoped to have an agreement in place by Saturday. No map had been filed by yesterday afternoon, and the House and the Senate left for the day.
Governor Rick Perry has cited today as the "drop-dead date" for him to sign a map that lawmakers agree with.
Because of a required 24-hour waiting period before any map could be considered for a vote, today's deadline was considered nearly impossible.
The office of Secretary of State Geoff Connor has said the Legislature must adjourn and the bill must be signed no later than today to maintain the March 2 primary with new congressional districts.
The Texas Senate approved the redistricting legislation Wednesday, 18 to 12, in a vote mostly along party lines. The House adopted its own GOP-friendly map last week following two walk-outs by Democrats.
Republicans are arguing with themselves over the shape of three west Texas districts. House Speaker Tom Craddick, a Republican from Midland, wants a new Midland-based district that would represent the oil and gas industry by separating it from Lubbock, but Senator Robert Duncan, a Republican from Lubbock, wants to maintain his region's farm and agriculture representation in Congress.
Republicans want a map that will increase their numbers in the Texas congressional delegation, which Democrats now lead, 17 to 15. Some GOP proposals would increase Republican seats by as many as six.
Democrats say the Republican maps would trample minority representation in Congress, while the GOP says voting trends show that Texas should have more Republicans in Washington.