Last night, Texas Republicans passed the final piece of their legislative gerrymander and approved a slightly modified version of their original proposal for the state’s new congressional map.
Using their party-line power, Texas Republicans aggressively gerrymandered legislative districts at every level, from the congressional map to the lines for State House and State Senate, diluting minority voting power despite the vast majority of population growth in Texas coming from voters of color.
The only victory Democrats were able to achieve on the congressional map was the uncoupling of veteran Houston lawmakers Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green. The two long-time members of Congress were originally put into the same district, but that plan was undone after vocal opposition from Jackson Lee’s constituents.
The domino effect in the Democratic Party is most evident in Central Texas, where Republicans created a new, majority white and heavily Democratic district in the newly created 37th District. Longtime Congressman Lloyd Doggett, who currently represents the 35th District, has announced that he will run to represent the new 37th.
It’s something of a logical conclusion for Doggett, who originally represented much of the 37th District when it was numbered District 10, before Republicans attempted to gerrymander him out of office long ago.
But that move has created what could become a very interesting primary in the 35th District, which Doggett is leaving open. Austin City Council member Greg Casar has announced an exploratory committee that is drawing widespread support, including from Wendy Davis, who was rumored to be interested in the seat at one time.
Casar has become one of the most dependable progressives in Austin politics, and his background and skills as a community organizer could give him a powerful leg up in the Travis County portion of the district.
Casar may not have the primary field to himself for long. Trey Martinez Fischer, the veteran State Rep. from San Antonio, may join the race as well. The district reaches all the way to Bexar County, and Martinez Fischer scored rave reviews for his leadership during the Democratic quorum break.
We’re also hearing rumors that Travis County State Representative Eddie Rodriguez is considering the race.