The Democrats got some good news in their uphill battle to take control of the House. The Supreme Court has rejected a Republican-backed plan to redraw the congressional districts in Colorado in a way that would have favored GOP candidates.

On Monday, the court declined to hear an appeal of a Colorado Supreme Court decision that threw out that Republican redistricting plan last year. The state court had ruled that the Republican-controlled legislature violated Colorado's constitution when it approved the redistricting plan in 2003, after a judge had already redrawn the districts' boundaries. Those boundaries, the state court had said, could only be reconfigured once a decade, after a census.

Ted Halaby, head of the state Republican Party, told the Associated Press that he still hoped to overturn the state court's decision through a separate court case wending its way through a federal court in Denver.

The current map gives Democrats a much better shot of both unseating Rep. Bob Beauprez (R), who won in 2002 by fewer than 200 votes, and winning the seat being vacated by Rep. Scott McInnis (R).

Campaign Signs Off

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Tex.) will not have to run against his ex-wife, after all.

Becky Whetstone, who divorced the three-term House member before deciding to challenge him in this year's election, fell short this week in her bid to get her name on the ballot. Whetstone, who was running for the seat as an independent, needed to collect 500 signatures to reserve her place in what would surely have been an explosive campaign. But despite a flurry of media coverage that had enveloped the race, she lacked 47 signatures.

"In the signature gathering process, we followed all of the directions of the Secretary of State, questioned the voters as to their eligibility before getting their signatures, and felt confident we had more than enough to meet the requirement," Whetstone said in a statement posted on her Web site. "I'm disappointed that I will not be able to offer voters of the 20th District a choice in this election."

Rep. Ballance to Resign

Rep. Frank W. Ballance Jr. (D-N.C.) announced yesterday that he is resigning from Congress.

The one-term House member said in a statement that a previously diagnosed medical condition is preventing him from fulfilling his official duties. "I made this decision because I am no longer able to carry out the responsibilities of this office," he said.

Myasthenia gravis was diagnosed in Ballance, 62, last year. The condition causes severe fatigue and weakness, his spokesman said. The congressman, who already had announced that he would not seek a second term in office, has been taking medication for the ailment. But a recent hospitalization helped convince him that he could no longer serve in office, his spokesman said. Ballance's resignation is effective Friday.

State law requires Gov. Mike Easley (D) to call a special election to fill the seat.