by Rosalind S. Helderman

The fate of a tentative deal between leading Senate Democrats and Republicans on boundaries for new Senate maps appeared Wednesday to rest on Republicans who negotiated the plan selling it to others in their 18-member caucus.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said Democrats have signed off on the plan, as did five Republicans who helped negotiate the proposal. But he said there can be no “technical deal” until leading Republicans get other GOP members to sign off.

“We’re okay,” he said of his caucus. “I think they’ll be okay,” he said of Republicans, but he said he awaited word.

He said he believed the proposal would give Democrats the chance to retain their 22 to 18 majority in the chamber but noted elections are unpredictable and no map guarantees a party an advantage.

“Each side wanted more and we had to settle halfway,” he said. “They gave up some. We gave up some. That’s what it’s all about...Both sides did okay.”

After initially presenting the plan to other Republicans, Sen. John Watkins (R-Chesterfield) said, “We’re still negotiating. There is no deal--the caucus has not signed off.”

Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover) said said negotiations would continue into the night.

Several senators said members who have not been intimately involved in negotiations need more data about proposed districts--lists of precincts that will be included in each district, as well as demographic and past voting history--before they could sign off. That data is expected to be pulled together by Thursday morning.

One question so far unanswered is how many Republicans must support the plan for McDonnell to agree it has sufficient bipartisan support for his signature. The chamber is working to adjust maps in response to the 2010 census. McDonnell vetoed one map adopted with only Democratic support.

There have been five Republicans closely involved with drawing up the proposal--Watkins, McDougle, Sen. Steve Newman (R-Lynchburg) and Sen. Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R-Williamsburg).

Saslaw said McDonnell told Democrats at a morning meeting Wednesday that he wanted to see a plan with “a modicum” of bipartisan support.