In part three of this series originally published exclusively for our Patreon members, we bring you a quick update on the latest with redistricting. You can support our work by joining our Patreon today.
Now that they’ve released the maps they hope will rule Texas politics for the next decade, Texas Republicans are wasting little time trying to cement the new district lines.
The Texas Senate earlier this week gave their stamp of approval on their own map, with the heavily gerrymandered plan for new state senate districts passing 20-11. Redistricting chair Sen. Joan Huffman has tried pushing back on criticisms of the maps by saying she tried to draw them with a color-blind approach, the results sadly speak for themselves.
Rather than creating a single minority opportunity district, the Houston-area Republican assertively drew the map to be as advantageous to incumbent Republicans as possible and it aggressively targeted the Tarrant County-based Senate District 10, currently held by Democrat Beverly Powell, to make it a Republican pick-up opportunity.
Powell introduced some amendments to try to remedy how badly the Republicans gerrymandered her district, but it was all for naught and the lines remain the same. Powell is rumored to be considering the primary for Lieutenant Governor, a race that grew more crowded with the entry of former George W. Bush strategist Matt Dowd last week.
Mike Collier, the 2018 nominee for LG who this week officially kicked off his campaign after a months-long exploratory effort that raised over $1 million, is also in the race and has been aggressively targeting Dowd for his lack of recent Democratic bonafides. We’re staying tuned to see how this race shakes out.
Over in the Texas House, Republicans also moved to grant swift approval to their new map, with the House Redistricting Committee voting the bill out. It still needs approval from the full House before it can go over to the Senate, and the House will also need to approve the Senate and Congressional maps at some point, but the speed with which their moving on the legislation shows how seriously they want to complete their work to avoid postponing the March primary.
That fevered pitch likely won’t yield the desired results, as Governor Abbott has already said he expects to call another special session, anticipating that the legislature won’t conclude all of their redistricting work in one session. That might give Democrats more time to extract some tweaks or concessions to the current maps, but it seems unlikely that Republicans will be willing to play ball at all, even if only to avoid future lawsuits.
And those lawsuits are most certainly coming. The Republicans have found some creative ways to stack and crack districts in all of the maps they’ve rolled out thus far, and Democrats have multiple avenues to challenge the maps in court.
There still hasn’t been much movement on the congressional map as of yet, but we’ll continue monitoring the latest at the legislature to make sure you’re up to date on all things redistricting.
Map credit: New York Times