Huffpost Politics

Elections 2012: Texas Redistricting Battle Could Have Unintended Consequences

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As the 2012 election heats up, both parties are pushing hard in congressional and gubernatorial races across the country. While Republicans work to regain control of the Senate, Democrats are vying to pick up seats in the GOP-controlled House. Below, a rundown of election news happening beyond the presidential field.

The redistricting battle trudges on in Texas, with the Supreme Court set to weigh in on the constitutionality of court-drawn interim congressional maps, which were proposed after civil rights groups challenged maps originally redrawn by the Texas legislature, claiming the maps diluted the votes of 2.8 million Hispanics.

If the mess doesn't get cleared up in time, Texas may be forced to add a second primary in May. This would likely mean a lower turnout for both primaries, which would be good news for former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz in his bid for the GOP Senate nomination. Cruz has backing from top conservatives in the Senate, including Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) but lacks the name recognition of frontrunner Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Cruz recently said he's confident he has enough support to force Dewhurst into a runoff election. It looks like former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert isn't the only primary contender he'll have to beat to take on Dewhurst one-on-one. Reports today show ESPN college football analyst Craig James will be joining the GOP Texas Senate race. (While James has no previous experience in politics, in today's political climate that could play in his favor: A recent PPP poll has NFL quarterback Tim Tebow polling of any of the actual GOP presidential candidates in Iowa.)

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The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is targeting House Democratic candidates in blue-collar, union-friendly districts. Ads and robocalls paint President Obama as no friend to organized labor, highlighting his refusal to move forward with the Keystone Pipeline, which many labor unions support.

The NRCC is targeting nine candidates in key districts: Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), Jason Altmire (PA-04), Ben Chandler (KY-06), Mark Critz (PA-12), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Michael Michaud (ME-02), Collin Peterson (MN-07) and Nick Rahall (WV-03).

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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) announced yesterday he is endorsing former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) in his bid for the Senate. The endorsement is a boost for Thompson, who's expected to a have a close race against Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin.

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In what may or may not be a boon to Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) reelection campaign, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich threw some support the senator's way yesterday. "Reelecting Senator Brown is a key step toward being able to repeal Obamacare," Gingrich told Massachusetts voters.

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The Michigan Republican Party called on incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to return campaign donations from former MF Global head Jon Corzine, members of his family and any other employees of the organization.

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Missouri Republican Senate candidates made headlines for neglecting to endorse fellow Missouri GOPer Roy Blunt in his bid for Senate leadership, which he won over Tea Party favorite Sen. Ron Johnson. Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill took advantage of the opportunity to take a jab at the GOP candidates on a local radio show, implying they were spineless for remaning silent.

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Just days after Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) decided to take on the Democrats in the 8th district, three Democratic heavyweights have donated money to his opponent, Tammy Duckworth. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) showed their support for Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, with donations ranging from $2,000-$5,000.

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Democrats are still waiting on Nebraska incumbent Sen. Ben Nelson to announce if he'll run for reelection or not. @LeavenworthSt: .@SenBenNelson may announce decision next week. Or not. Who knows? wheeee...

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