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If Republican political consultant Dave Gilliard has his way today, the California Supreme Court will conclude he's on the verge of qualifying a referendum on the new state Senate district lines for the ballot in November.

The court, meeting in San Francisco, is scheduled to consider at a 9 a.m. hearing whether to weigh in on which Senate districts will be used in this year's primary and general elections if the referendum qualifies.

Gilliard is representing Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting, the group pushing to kill the Senate maps drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission. His argument: Because the measure is likely to qualify, the court should step in today to begin the process of drawing another version of the lines in times for Senate candidates to have some certainty when they take out their nomination papers on February 13.

Were the court to appoint a special master today to put new lines in place, he said, there's plenty of time to create constitutionally acceptable districts by then.

"Literally you could draw the Senate lines in a week with the right software," he said.

Democrats have a different best-case scenario: Democratic consultant Jason Kinney said his side thinks the court, which previously has declined to intervene or name a special master, will decide the referendum is not likely to qualify and opt not to get involved.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, it appeared that the referendum had secured enough signatures to proceed to a full count but not enough to qualify outright via random sample.

"Given the pitifully low validity rate, we have every hope and expectation that the court will find that this misguided measure does not meet the "likely to qualify" test and therefore the people's vote will be respected and the commission's lines will stay squarely in place," Kinney said.

NO MORE WRITE-INS? An attempt to change ballots in light of the state's new top-two primary system gets another hearing in the upper house today. Assembly Bill 1413, by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, would eliminate the space for write-in votes, which cannot be counted under the new election rules.

The bill, which could thwart one potential legal challenge to the new system, was introduced in the final days of the 2011 legislative session, but put on hold amid controversy over a provision on residency requirements. That language has been taken out of the latest version of the bill. The amended version is on the agenda for a 1:30 p.m. hearing of the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee.

NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTE: Here's a reason for California Republicans to watch the outcome of tonight's New Hampshire primary. Californian Fred Karger hasn't been on the debate stage, but he is on the Granite State ballot.

Following the presidential contest? Bookmark our delegate tracker to keep up to speed throughout the primary season on the Republican race. Find more analysis, fact-checking and adwatches here.

CAKE & CANDLES: Happy Birthday to Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, who was born on this date in 1964.


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