Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Redsitricting statehouse districts at first blush

Those of you that have been following Greg and Charles won't find much of anything new in this post. (Go to Kuffner's link and follow the instructions in that post if you want to walk into the weeds with us.) Here I will react and elaborate on some of the things that Ross Ramsey and Matt Stiles have posted at the TexTrib, Harvey K has put up at Quorum Report, along with some thoughts from other back-channel discussions.

Representatives whose districts have been combined/paired include ...

East Texas: Dan Flynn/Erwin Cain and Allen Ritter/Tuffy Hamilton

Cain, a Republican Tea Party freshman who voted against Joe Straus for speaker, goes under the bus ... probably as much for that as for this. Update: On the other hand, Flynn also voted against Straus, so this might simply be a grudge match scheduled by the speaker himself.

Ritter recently flipped from D to R and has been in the Lege for many years, representing southern Jefferson County; Hamilton has long represented Orange and part of Sabine County. As legislative veterans neither is presumably ready to cash out and become an Austin lobbyist. But Hamilton had triple-bypass surgery late last year so there is certainly the possibility that he's disinclined for a grueling Republican primary.

West Texas: Jim Landtroop/ Charles Perry and Warren Chisum/ Rick Hardcastle.

Landtroop and Perry, both Republican freshmen, will have to face off in a GOP primary, likely for the right to contest former Democratic state representative Joe Heflin in November 2012. Chisum has already announced his intention to run for the Texas Railroad Commission, so Hardcastle can breathe easy.

Dallas County: Joe Driver/Cindy Burkett and Linda Harper-Brown/ Rodney Anderson

Burkett and Anderson are GOP rookies who are again sacrificed in order to preserve the incumbency of two of the most ethically challenged Republican incumbents in the Texas Legislature. Click on the links in their names to refresh yourself with their corruption.

Harris County: Hubert Vo/Scott Hochberg

Vo's district 149 was erased completely and reincarnated as a suburban/rural Republican district in Williamson County (and Burnet and Milam). It wins the Gerrymander of the Decade award:

Vo could wind up challenging HD-133's Jim Murphy, which would be a fascinating contest. Hochberg's 137th added a chunk of Harris west of where his district currently lies, but appears to remain safely Democratic.

Nueces County: Raul Torres/Connie Scott

Continuing the trend, Scott and Torres are both Republican freshmen who were swept in on 2010's Red Tide. They either face a rough primary against each other, or one must stand down so that the other can do battle against an emboldened Democratic challenger with Barack Obama on the ballot in 2012.

These are the eight open seats as mapped:

District 3—Montgomery (part) and Waller

District 12—McLennan (part), Brazos (part), Falls, Limestone, Robertson

District 33—Collin (part) and Rockwall

District 85—Fort Bend (part), Wharton and Jackson

District 88—Wise, Cook, Jack, Young, Throckmorton, Haskell, Stonewall, Kent, Garza, Lynn, Terry, Borden

District 101-Tarrant (part)

District 106---Denton (part)

And the afore-mentioned District 149—Williamson (part), Burnet, Milam

Those all appear to be safe for whatever Republican runs there.

Burt Solomons, the author of these maps, also did an excellent job of attempting to preserve a Republican super-majority for the next decade. Ninety-two statehouse districts are R 55% or greater, up from 82.

Update: Eye on Williamson has more on the new District 149.

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