GOP pols use redistricting against tea party

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVID ELDRIDGE

Tea party-backed lawmakers who swept into of­fice by tak­ing on “es­tab­lish­ment” politi­cians in both par­ties are pay­ing the price in the redistricting process tak­ing shape in state leg­is­la­tures across the coun­try.

That de­vel­op­ment may not come as much of a sur­prise in so­called blue states, such as New Jer­sey, where groups af­fil­i­ated with the tea party have filed a law­suit against the map drawn by the Democrats who con­trol the Leg­is­la­ture in Tren­ton.

But tea party-backed lawmakers seem to have been caught off guard in other states. In Texas, for ex­am­ple, the “es­tab­lish­ment” Repub­li­cans hacked out a new redistricting map that would pit many of the fresh­men in­sur­gents against them­selves or more-es­tab­lished of­fice­hold­ers in 2012.

The map cre­ated by the House Redistricting Com­mit­tee, led by Repub­li­can Chair­man Burt Solomons, matches up to 14 Repub­li­can in­cum­bents against each other while open­ing up eight new open dis­tricts, though most lean Repub­li­can. The map pairs only one set of Demo­cratic in­cum­bents in a new district.

West Texas state House mem­bers Charles Perry of Lub­bock and Jim Landtroop of Plain­view, both tea party-backed fresh­men, were part of a group of fis­cal hawks who got off on the wrong foot with the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship in the state cap­i­tal in Jan­uary with an un­suc­cess­ful bid to un­seat pow­er­ful House Speaker Joe Strauss.

Now, three months later, the fresh­men find them­selves po­ten­tially fac­ing each other in the 2012 elec­tions.

“You can draw maps to pro­tect the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the peo­ple. I think right now we have a map that pro­tects politi­cians,” Mr. Landtroop told The Wash­ing­ton Times on April 25. “We feel it’s an in­jus­tice to West Texas.”

Two other tea-party lawmakers, Reps. Con­nie Scott and Raul Tor­res, both fresh­men from Cor­pus Christi, have been re­drawn into a com­bined district. Mrs. Scott told the Associated Press that she ex­pects that one of them will step down rather than face each other in 2012.

“Hope­fully we can work some­thing out,” she said. “One or the other of us will step aside and do what’s right.”

De­spite crit­i­cism, the pro­posed map has plenty of Repub­li­can sup­port in Austin - Texas Repub­li­can Party Chair­man

West Texas state House mem­bers Charles Perry of Lub­bock and Jim Landtroop of Plain­view, both tea party-backed fresh­men, were part of a group of fis­cal hawks who got off on the wrong foot with the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship in the state cap­i­tal in Jan­uary with an un­suc­cess­ful bid to un­seat pow­er­ful House Speaker Joe Strauss. Now, three months later, the fresh­men find them­selves po­ten­tially fac­ing each other in the 2012 elec­tions. “You can draw maps to pro­tect the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the peo­ple. I think right now we have a map that pro­tects politi­cians,” Mr. Landtroop told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Steve Mu­nis­teri, said the plan “af­fords the Repub­li­can Party the op­por­tu­nity to main­tain a solid ma­jor­ity.”

The GOP con­trols the gov­er­nor­ship and both houses in the state Leg­is­la­ture by an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity, 19 to 12 in the Se­nate and 101 to 49 in the House, but an over­reach by the party could draw the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Jus­tice Depart­ment into the map-draw­ing process, some­thing many Repub­li­cans are try­ing to avoid.

Mr. Mu­nis­teri noted that pit­ting Repub­li­cans against Repub­li­cans was un­avoid­able.

“This is not an ideal sit­u­a­tion for ei­ther our party or the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives who are paired,” he said. “Be­cause of the changes in pop­u­la­tion [. . .] it is im­pos­si­ble to draw a new map that main­tains a Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity and at the same time is legal and fair with­out such pair­ings.”

The brass-knuckle po­lit­i­cal lessons be­ing handed down by the es­tab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans in Austin are be­ing echoed in state cap­i­tals across the coun­try.

In New Jer­sey, the tea party and other groups filed a law­suit April 21 over the Demo­cratic plan ap­proved by the state assem­bly, say­ing the map fa­vors Democrats and would “lock in one-party con­trol of the New Jer­sey Leg­is­la­ture for the next decade.”

Tea party-backed con­gress­men are also feel­ing the heat, as state leg­is­la­tures con­trolled by vet­eran Repub­li­cans and Democrats re­draw con­gres­sional maps.

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