If there were one word to describe this year’s build up to the March primaries it would be confusing.
So confusing that a deadline included in a federal court ruling on the county’s redistricting plans likely is wrong on one key point.
The state and local battles over redistricting have mucked up the works as candidates and political parties try to figure out who will run for what office and what are the precinct lines for that office.
The deadline — for now — to file for office in races is Thursday but federal judges might still step in on the county’s redistricting plans while the U.S. Supreme Court won’t give the final say on the state’s congressional and legislative redistricting plans until after a Jan. 9 hearing.
Late Friday a three federal judge panel ruled it won’t intervene in the county’s plan for new commissioner and justices of the peace and constable precincts until after a 60-day deadline for the U.S. Department of Justice to pre-clear the plans has passed.
In their ruling the judges listed today as the end of those 60 days. According to the justice department’s records however the judges are several days off. In each case the 60-day time limit is after Thursday’s filing deadline.
The justice department has 60 days after a plan is filed to either pre-clear the plan or ask for additional information. If more information is asked for a new 60-day clock starts ticking.
In the county’s case the 60-day deadline for the commissioners court plan is Saturday while the proposed map for constables and justices of the peace is Monday.
That’s because despite assertions from the county’s attorneys of an earlier filing date the official dates for the redistricting maps are Oct. 18 for the commissioners map and Oct. 20 for the justices of the peace and constables map according to DOJ records.
In October justice department spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa confirmed the filing dates. Although the commissioners map was listed as being filed Oct. 17 it later was corrected to reflect an Oct. 18 filing date. The 60-day clock doesn’t start ticking until the plans are received.
Late Monday afternoon attorneys representing county constables justices of the peace and two county commissioners who filed a lawsuit over the controversial maps filed an advisory with the federal court noting the incorrect dates.
The indecision’s biggest impact is on the constables and two county commissioner precincts which are up for election in 2012.
The county submitted a constables map that merged several precincts and reduced the number of precincts from eight to five. The commissioners map significantly changes the boundaries of Precinct 3 and Precinct 1 each are up for election next year.
Stephen Holmes represents Precinct 3 while Patrick Doyle represents Precinct 1.
The filing confusion has local party leaders a bit concerned. Barbara Meeks the chairwoman of the Galveston County Republican Party and Lloyd Criss chairman of the county’s Democratic Party each have said they would refund the filing fees of any candidates in the constable or commissioners races who decide to withdraw whenever the lines are officially adopted.
With Thursday’s court-ordered filing deadline looming it appeared unlikely a final decision would be in place in time.
The judges could extend the filing period but there are no hearings scheduled yet to even consider that possibility.
At A Glance
A list of candidates that have filed for office according to local and state Democratic and Republican parties. List does not include announced candidates only those who have filed.
Galveston County Sheriff John W. Pruitt
Constable Pct. 5 Mike Montez (I)
Constable Pct. 3 Derreck Rose (I)
Constable Pct. 1 Don Cherry (I)
Clint Wayne Brown
Constable Pct. 6 William Comeaux
Precinct 3 Commissioner James Hobgood
State Representative District 23 Craig Eiland (I)
Party Chairman Lloyd Criss (I)
Congressional District 22 Kesha Rogers
Editor’s note: Chairman Lloyd Criss says he expects more candidates to file on Thursday but others are holding off because of redistricting battles.
County Sheriff Joel Caldwell
Constable Pct. 4 Jimmy Fullen (I)
Constable Pct. 7 Pam Matranga (I)
Constable Pct. 8 Jerry Fisher (I)
County Commissioner Pct. 1 Ryan Dennard
County Tax AssessorCollector Cheryl Johnson (I)
56th District Court Lonnie Cox (I)
405th District Court Wayne Mallia (I)
10th District Court Kerry Neves
State Representative District 23 Rachel Delgado
State Representative District 24 Greg Bonnen
State Senate District 11 Larry Taylor
Congressional District 14 Randy Weber
Congressional District 22 Barbara Carlson
Pete Olson (I)
Party Chairman Barbara Meeks (I)
(I)= Indicates office incumbent
Editor’s note: Congressional District 22 has been redrawn and to include a very small part of the northern county but is included here because congressional map has not yet been approved.
SOURCES: Galveston County Democratic and Republican Party chairmen and websites. Texas Republican and Democratic Party websites of filed candidates.
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