Friday, November 18, 2011

Texas Republican overreach slapped down hard by feds

The maps drawn for the 2012 elections by the three-judge panel are a huge win, and in some cases are eye-popping.

Democrats could gain a half-dozen seats in the Texas House under an interim redistricting map a federal court released Thursday. [...]

The biggest changes in the proposed Texas House map, which was endorsed by two of the three judges meeting in San Antonio, appear to be focused in the Houston area and could cost the Republicans as many as three seats. Rep. Beverly Woolley's district was largely combined into Rep. Jim Murphy's, Rep. Ken Legler's reconfigured district is heavily Hispanic and Rep. Sarah Davis' new district was won in 2008 by President Barack Obama.

The two judges would also give Democratic state Reps. Hubert Vo and Scott Hochberg districts to run in, undoing the Legislature's combination of their districts. The U.S. Department of Justice said in a legal filing that combining the two districts violated the Voting Rights Act because it would reduce opportunities for minority representation.

Several Republicans got paired. Harvey K:

Under the House map proposed by the San Antonio judges, 12 districts will pair incumbents -- all Republican on Republican contests with the exception of two districts pairing an R with a D. No Democrats are paired in the interim map. It should also be noted that several incumbents on this list have either announced they are not running for re-election or running for a different office.

HD 2: Cain (R), Flynn (R)

HD 21: Hamilton (R), White (R)

HD 32: Hunter (R), Morrison (R)

HD 33: Scott (R), Torres (R)

HD 69: Hardcastle (R), Lyne (R)

HD 80: Aliseda (R), King, T. (D)

HD 85: Chisum (R), Landtroop (R)

HD 91: Hancock (R), Nash (R)

HD 109: Anderson, R. (R), Giddings (D)

HD 113: Burkett (R), Driver (R)

HD 114: Hartnett (R), Sheets (R)

HD 133: Murphy (R), Woolley (R)

Meanwile, here are the open House districts under the proposed interim House map:

HD 3, HD 14, HD 30, HD 35, HD 43, HD 57, HD 68, HD 88, HD 93, HD 101, HD 106, HD 107 and HD 136

Warrne Chisum is running for Railroad Commissioner, Will Hartnett and Beverly Woolley are retiring, and Joe Driver caught a felony indictment, so this isn't as bad as it looks at first blush for the Repugs.

More from Greg:

Some particulars of interest: Woolley’s old district (she’s retiring) is essentially folded into Jim Murphy’s. Scott (Hochberg) and Hubert (Vo) each have their own district. (Ken) Legler is toast. (Dwayne) Bohac would go another decade with a bullseye on his back. And HD134 (Sarah Davis) got bluer on the Obama numbers, so it looks like that one could come back to the D column. HD136 is outsourced to Waller County, so it’s a 24-district map for the county.

Even more impressive is a just-below 50-50 district in Fort Bend County that’s over 30% Asian. Beyond that, I’ve seen at least a couple of WD40 districts that might be regained. No time to get into Dallas, but I’m hearing three seats from there could come back.

And Wendy Davis gets her Senate district back.

All three judges agreed on what changes to make the Texas Senate map, essentially restoring the district represented by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, to the configuration it had when she ran for election in 2008.

The redistricting plan transformed Davis' district, which was seen as heavily competitive, into a Republican-dominated district.

Frankly, I'm slack-jawed over these changes. If the Texas House had included Democrats in the cartographic process during the last session, the D's could not have done themselves this much good.

And Photo ID skids out of the turn and slams into the wall, bursting into flames:

The Texas voter ID law, one of Gov. Rick Perry's top priorities during the 2011 Legislature, has been stalled by the U.S. Justice Department, which is insisting on demographic information about voters that state election officials say is virtually impossible to provide.

Texas Republicans expressed dismay Thursday after Justice Department officials said they need voter information about race and ethnicity before they can approve the controversial law, which is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2012.

The ruling raises the possibility that the law will not be in place by the March 6 primary.

Information that Texas election officials have provided "is incomplete and does not enable us to determine that the proposed changes have neither the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language group (required under the Voting Rights Act)," T. Christian Herren Jr., chief of the Justice Department's Voting Section, said in a Wednesday letter to Texas elections director Ann McGeehan.

Cue the whining.

The requested information will be virtually impossible to gather, said state Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, House sponsor of the voter ID bill, SB 14.

"I am disappointed," she said. "I don't know that the Secretary of State can provide the information in the format that they want. I am not sure that we will be able to satisfy them. I think it's ridiculous."

World's tiniest violin playing beside the River of Tears and all that.

"I am pleased that DOJ is asking the probative questions, which indicates they suspect the real issue is voter suppression," (state Sen. Rodney) Ellis said.

That's MY Senator. More in brief from TPM. Charles' rejoinder is best:

It’s amusing that the DOJ slapped down the SOS again the same week that Republican State Rep. Patricia Harless, who had said that the DOJ’s initial request for more data was “reasonable” and that the SOS should be able to respond quickly, published a lame pro-voter ID op-ed that essentially boiled down to “it won’t suppress as many votes as the critics say” and “it polls well”. I mean, Free Ice Cream Day would probably poll well, too, but that doesn’t mean it would be good public policy. Notably, Harless snuck in a bit about how voter ID would protect us from “fraud”, but nowhere in her piece did she document any actual examples of fraud that voter ID would protect us from. We all know the reason for that, of course, but then Harless can’t exactly come out and admit that the actual purpose of voter ID is to make it harder for some people to vote, as that might sound scary. But a discriminatory law by any other name would still discriminate.

Good Friday, everybody.

No comments: