Mar
04
2012

The Great Texas Redistricting Nonsense has been resolved.

Almost.

Some background, for those who need it: Texas, thanks to explosive growth over the last ten years, picked up four Congressional Districts after the last Census.  The Democrats, who are (naturally enough, I suppose) angry that this growth has been at the expense of their own caucus (the 2010 Census generally demonstrated that a lot of people have been voting with their feet on this entire Red State/Blue State paradigm), immediately threw the entire thing into the courts for alleged Voting Rights Act violations.  A San Antonio court threw out the old maps, and put in redrawn ones that just happened to heavily favor the Democrats; and then the Supreme Court reached down from DC and mightily spanked the San Antonio court for that (although a 9-0 reversal is perversely impressive).

So, suitably chastened, the San Antonio court followed the Supreme Court’s instruction to draw interim election maps that actually paid attention to what the duly-elected Texas legislature came up with.  The end result is that on the Congressional level… OK, it’s kind of complicated.

There were more or less four Congressional Districts that were particularly at issue.

  • TX-23. GOP-held (freshman Quico Canseco); made more Republican in the first map, revised by the first San Antonio map, restored in the new one.
  • TX-25. Democratic-held (Lloyd Doggett); turned into a GOP-friendly (as in, Doggett should just move if he wants to stay in Congress) seat in the first map, reversed by the first map, restored in the new one. All of this is excellent news for Michael Williams, who is running in that seat (and who has long been a friend of RedState).
  • TX-33. New seat, effectively.  There are dark rumors that negotiations were made between Texas Republicans and Texas Latino Democrats to make sure that this district was majority-minority with a strong bias towards a Latino candidate instead of majority-minority generally.  I believe these rumors; and I expect that the used-to-be-frontrunners for the nomination do, too.
  • TX-35. New seat.  And… behold it.  Trust me, you don’t draw a district like that unless you need it to permit gains elsewhere.  It’s going to be Democratic, and it’s the one that Doggett will be moving to, and its return after the San Antonio court apparently revised away it tells you that very little ended up being changed on the Congressional District level.

All in all: the Republicans are happy enough; the Democratic groups that didn’t cut deals are… less so.  The courts have scheduled primaries for May 29th, and the question now becomes whether a special court in DC will sign off on the San Antonio court’s decision.  The problem here is that the primaries in Texas have already been delayed for months, and the lower courts have addressed the existing challenges by tweaking the maps instead of rewriting them… because the US Supreme Court came in with a mighty hammer to pummel them when they didn’t.  Does this administration feels like risking another intervention, particularly since such an intervention would probably address the constitutionality of Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, once and for all?

It’s an interesting question.  I almost hope that this administration is that stupid and arrogant, but not quite.  The important thing is to have the freaking elections.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: I should note that the goal was not to make the four new Congressional Districts all solidly Republican; that was never going to happen.  What the Texas legislature did instead was to create 3 new majority-minority districts that were also Democratic-leaning, create 2 Republican-friendly seats, shore up the GOP’s 2010 gains (which included some genuine upsets), and wreck Lloyd Doggett’s day.  And that’s how it pretty much all turned out.

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