Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Said in my best Steve Martin "The Jerk" imitation.

After a months-long set of legal battles spanning three courtrooms in two cities, Texas may finally have a set of interim redistricting maps that could keep the primary election on May 29.

The new maps, released by the San Antonio federal court today, appear to be nearly identical to the compromise maps negotiated between Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Latino Redistricting Task Force, which were rejected by other minority and Democratic groups.

Like that compromise, the court's congressional map would create two new minority congressional seats and preserves the Republican-dominated Legislature's decision to split Austin into five districts, likely forcing U.S. Rep Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, to run in a new, heavily Hispanic district that stretches from San Antonio to Austin.

Harvey K has links to the maps viewer and this "first blush":

(T)he blobs on the map would seem to show that the AG's compromise maps held up pretty well. On the Congressional plans, the fracturing of Travis County from the state's enacted map has been restored. That means for the interim map at least Lloyd Doggett is being forced to run against a San Antonio Democrat in the new CD 35. Also, the CD 33 in the DFW Metroplex that was drawn into the Abbott compromise map to favor a minority candidate remains in place.

On the House map, Ken Legler's HD 144 (Pasadena area) remains unchanged from Abbott's compromise map but the court made some changes to HD 137 (inc. Scott Hocheberg, retiring) and HD 149 (inc. Hubert Vo) in Harris County. Judges had warned in the status conference that Abbott's treatment of HD 137 had minority retrogression issues. Finally, it looks like the court made some adjustment to John Garza's HD 117 in Bexar County, another flashpoint from the status conference.

I'm back in Culberson's 7th Congressional, but still in Borris Miles' HD 146 and Rodney Ellis' Senate District 13. The Startlegram's Aman Batheja, on Twitter:

Joe Barton won't represent Cowboys Stadium under court-drawn cong. map. Ends up in new Dem-leaning Dist. 33.

Batheja also notes that Tarrant County remains as the Legislature drew it, with a minority district in which two Democratic statehouse incumbents are forced to contend.

With the exception of the hosing of Smokey Joe, these maps are the suck -- unless you're Greg Abbott. They were pushed out early by the judges in order to save a May election day, but as Nolan Hicks at the SAEN observes...

The May 29 primary could still be in jeopardy if any of the groups that sued appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to block the new maps.

More updates as they roll in.

Update I: Burnt Orange laments Travis County's 5-way split.

The 10th remains largely unchanged, the 21st narrows to a skinny swath of Central Austin, and the 17th (the green area on the map) reaches down from Burleson County to stick a finger into north Austin and Pflugerville, just below the Williamson County border. The bad news is that CD-25 now runs from East Austin to Western Travis County, and then all the way up to Tarrant, while the 35th encompasses eastern Travis County and skips alongside I-35 down to San Antonio.

Sorry, y'all, we Austinites are apparently incapable of handling the rigors of selecting a Congressman whose constituents are primarily in Austin. We need the rest of the surrounding region to do it for us. But good news, Austinites and Pflugervillans, because some of you are about to be represented by Republican Bill Flores! He will care a lot about your concerns. Not really. #sadtrombone

Update II: Matt Angle, Lone Star Project.

Most of the plaintiff groups who challenged the Republican congressional plan hoped for a better interim map. These hopes were undermined, however, when Congressman Henry Cuellar and one of the Latino plaintiff groups – the Latino Task Force – agreed to a compromise proposal that gave up at least three, and perhaps all four, of the additional Texas seats to the Republicans.

Next month, the Federal District Court in Washington, DC is expected to release its decision detailing all of the violations in the State’s originally enacted redistricting plan. Ultimately, the DC Court’s decision will guide the redrawing of new maps when the Legislature meets again in 2013.

Update III: Michael Li.

Buzz that the proposed reopened filing period will be Friday, March 2, through Tuesday, March 6 (which would be somewhat fitting since then the filing period would end on Super Tuesday - the date of the original Texas primary).

For now, everything appears to be on track for a May 29 primary and July 31 (or early August) runoff.

Last update: This DK diary has "full analysis", some of which is even accurate. BOR asks and then answers: "Who likes the way redistricting went? Almost no one, apparently."

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