Five takeaways from Texas GOP’s congressional maps

by | Sep 27, 2021 | Politics, Redistricting

Texas lawmakers on Monday released their first proposed draft of the state’s new congressional maps. Here’s a quick look at all the major changes around the state.

Austin and Houston get new congressional districts 

The state’s capital and its largest city will be home to Texas’ two newest congressional districts, the 37th and 38th.

In Houston, Texas’ 38th congressional district will be made up of swathes from the current districts of Reps. Lizzie Fletcher (D-07), Michael McCaul (R-10), and Dan Crenshaw (R-02). 

To accommodate the changes in those districts, Republican lawmakers drew Fletcher’s district further into Harris County, making it bluer, and also moved Crenshaw’s district further away from Harris County and into Montgomery County, making it redder.  

In Austin, pieces of Reps. Roger Williams (R-25), Chip Roy (R-21), and Lloyd Doggett’s (D-35) districts will be used to create Texas’ new 37th congressional district. 

Colin Allred gets a safe seat 

Texas’ 32nd district represented by Congressman Colin Allred will move deeper in Dallas, making it safer for the incumbent representative. 

The neighboring 24th district of Beth Van Duyne will be moved further into Tarrant County and away from Denton. Pieces of Allred’s district in North Dallas will also go to Van Duyne. 

The changes will likely make things safer for Van Duyne too, although much of her district continues to be in Dallas. 

Vicente Gonzalez is getting gutted 

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen will see his battleground district lose parts of South Texas and gain areas in counties south of Travis County. Considering Gonzalez was reelected by three percentage points, it could prove fatal. 

No new Hispanic-majority district 

The new proposed map contains no new Hispanic-majority districts, a stunning fact considering most of the state’s population was driven by Latino population growth. Texas’ new 37th congressional district is 55 percent anglo, with only a quarter Hispanic. Texas’ 38th congressional district is 50 percent anglo, with also only a quarter of the district being Hispanic.

More of the same 

Republicans are continuing with their strategy of securing incumbents by packing Democratic voters (particularly voters of color) into districts and diluting their impact at the ballot box. It’s more of the same racial gerrymandering that has frequently found the state in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In closing: see you in court

Texas Republicans are hopeful that this version of the map will endure for the next decade, but not so fast. Veteran election lawyer Marc Elias is already warning that this gerrymandered map is bound to be challenged in court almost immediately, and Democrats and advocates for fair maps agree that Republicans are attempting a racial gerrymander by combining two long-serving Black members of Congress in the same district in Houston’s Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green. 

Time will tell if these maps will stand, but it is an overt power grab by Texas Republicans, who fear the ticking clock of the state’s changing demographics will eventually remove them from power.

Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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