Today, the 3 judge federal panel hearing Mississippi’s redistricting case seems to be settling on the path of least resistance. They seem inclined to order a 2011 election under the Reynolds/Burton plans.

As I stated a month ago . ..

The worst case scenario is that a federal judge panel would be lazy and just accept the House and Senate maps that passed each chamber. Anything other than that will likely be an improvement and probably a substantial one for fairness.

What’s obvious to me is that the judges are trying to put enough heat on Democrats and Republicans to craft a legislative solution. They are using language like, “notice is hereby given that if the Mississippi Legislature fails to enact and obtain preclearance for a legislative redistricting plan before June 1, 2011, this Court is inclined to issue an order”. It’s clear they don’t want to draw lines and they don’t want to force two elections. This is a veiled way of saying, “Look boys and girls, y’all go get in a room and work this out.”

MS Redistricting 3 judge panel proposed order

Folks, here’s the main point. Even if this proposed order is adopted, Republicans have given up the sum total of . . . nothing. While Democrats are rejoicing, they may only get the same crappy deal they offered for one year or maybe one four year term instead of a decade. But for Phil Bryant and the Senate standing firm, we would have been stuck with a bill designed to keep a few desperate folks clinging to power. This decision may kick the can down the road some, but House Democrats have to know 3 things.

1. Either Tate Reeves or Billy Hewes will be Lt. Governor in 2012. Democrats’ political sledding will be as bad if not worse with regards to the Senate.
2. If Billy McCoy is their standard bearer (which I continue to predict he won’t be), he will be come the Nancy Pelosi-like lightening rod that will focus voters on a district level to vote out some incumbents in vulnerable districts.
3. Democrats will lose seats in 2011 even under the plan they’ve drawn. They may hold the House by a razor’s edge (I don’t think they will, by the way), but if so, it will only be for a short while. The pendulum is swinging against them. They are horrifically disorganized as a party, they have no money to fight, and if they had to run again in 2012, the man at the top of their ticket will be Barack Obama. Win with that.

I believe Democrat peacemakers will again start publicly angling for a deal. But Democrats making Terry Burton feel good ain’t gonna get it. There’s only one guy that needs to be convinced and that’s Haley Barbour.

Everyone still has a few days to make their arguments and if the worst case for Republicans is a one year term under current districts, I say let’s run on ’em now and go fix ’em next year when their hand is even stronger.

Now, some legislators have been arguing that since each chamber’s plan passed its own house (on almost absolute party line votes) that they should be admitted anyway. Fortunately, the YallPolitics Legislative Educational Division has produced a video specifically geared to teach Mississippi legislators about how bills become enacted. You may remember it.