For Hidalgo County political candidates, there may be a deadline, but there still is no clarity. A panel of three federal judges extended a filing deadline for political office set to expire Thursday until Monday, giving candidates four extra days to sweat out whether they’ll draw additional competition. But the court hasn’t yet ruled on whether it will delay any elections, and candidates for state and congressional seats embroiled in the redistricting lawsuit still don’t have a clear picture of how their districts will eventually look.
Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chairwoman Dolly Elizondo-Garcia summed up the state’s electoral process with one word: confusion. “It’s been very chaotic, and we’re trying to handle it as best we can,” said Elizondo-Garcia, who is accepting applications for places on the ballot from state candidates who still don’t know for sure in which district they’ll run. “There are more twists and turns here than the Texas Cyclone (theme park ride). We’re going to be in for a lot of surprises.”
The federal court signed an order Wednesday that extended the filing deadline for all federal, state and county offices until 6 p.m. Monday, and it allowed candidates to change their applications or withdraw once the political maps are finalized.
The court’s order also said it would reopen the filing period at a later date, and it lifted a residency requirement to allow candidates to move as the maps change.
The court’s order was the latest turn in a legal battle over whether redistricting maps drawn by state legislators met stipulations of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The order was issued after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the maps drawn by the panel of federal judges as a temporary solution for the fast-approaching March primaries.
The Supreme Court’s order invalidated all congressional and state maps in Texas until it can host a hearing on Jan. 9 to listen to arguments from both sides.
In response to the filing deadline extension, the Hidalgo County Democratic Party delayed its filing deadline event until Monday. The party’s “Ready to Rumble” event, originally scheduled for tonight, was delayed until Monday to coincide with the new filing deadline.