Texas Repub­li­cans de­fend their bold redistricting map

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVID ELDRIDGE

Mi­nor­ity groups, and at least one Demo­cratic con­gress­man, al­ready are cry­ing foul about what some are call­ing the Repub­li­cans’ “go-for-broke” strat­egy for redistricting in Texas, which will add four con­gres­sional seats in next year’s elec­tions.

The GOP map ap­proved by Texas lawmakers this week would make at least three of the state’s four new dis­tricts Repub­li­can-lean­ing, while also paint­ing a big tar­get on Rep. Lloyd Doggett, rip­ping the Demo­crat’s Austin-based district into five pieces.

Repub­li­cans say the pro­posed new map is fair and legal, but two mi­nor­ity groups, the League of United Latin Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens (LULAC) and the Mex­i­canAmer­i­can Leg­isla­tive Cau­cus, have filed law­suits al­leg­ing the GOP plan di­min­ishes the vot­ing power of His­pan­ics.

Repub­li­cans hold 23 of the state’s 32 con­gres­sional seats, and po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts say the new map could make 27 out of 36 in 2012 a very real pos­si­bil­ity.

Mr. Doggett, a nine-term con­gress­man from the lib­eral neigh- bor­hoods sur­round­ing the 50,000-stu­dent cam­pus of the Univer­sity of Texas, has been a vo­cal critic of the pro­posed new map, which he says is noth­ing more than the Texas GOP’s at­tempt to elim­i­nate white Democrats in the state’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion in or­der to ex­ploit racial pol­i­tics.

“This map vi­o­lates the Vot­ing Rights Act and rep­re­sents lit­tle more than an­other Repub­li­can slap at His­pan­ics. Its crooked lines harm fam­i­lies through­out the San An­to­nio to Austin cor­ri­dor,” he said in a state­ment to The Wash­ing­ton Times.

A sur­vivor of sev­eral pre­vi­ous GOP-led at­tempts to re­dis­trict him out of Congress, Mr. Doggett pre­dicted that the map lawmakers are con­sid­er­ing in Austin will be re­vised sig­nif­i­cantly be­fore next year’s elec­tions.

“This map is far from fi­nal and will likely look very dif­fer­ent on Elec­tion Day,” he said.

As the map is drawn now, Mr. Doggett would have a dif­fi­cult choice next year: run against an es­tab­lished Repub­li­can in his re­con­fig­ured district or move a few miles south to com­pete for the one seat the GOP drew that leans Demo­cratic the new In­ter­state 35 cor­ri­dor district that likely will draw one or more for­mi­da­ble, San An­to­nio-based His­panic con­tenders.

Other crit­ics of the GOP plan pre­dict that the fi­nal redistricting bound­aries in Texas will be drawn in the courts in­stead of in the meet­ing rooms of the state Capi­tol.

“The Texas Leg­is­la­ture has never, ever, suc­cess­fully drawn a leg­isla­tive redistricting plan since the Vot­ing Rights Act came into Texas in 1975,” said Luis Roberto Jr., LULAC’s na­tional gen­eral coun­sel, who filed the suit. “Texas is one of the most po­lar­ized states in the United States. Peo­ple vote along racial lines.”

Joey Car­de­nas, pres­i­dent of the Texas chap­ter of LULAC, called the GOP map a “last hur­rah” for Repub­li­can lawmakers fight­ing a los­ing de­mo­graph­ics battle.

“There was no in­tent of cre­at­ing mi­nor­ity op­por­tu­nity dis­tricts at all,” he said. “How is that pos­si­ble, when the cen­sus shows that Lati­nos are re­spon­si­ble for 75 per­cent of the growth in the state over the last decade?

“Clearly, the fu­ture of Texas lies in the Latino com­mu­nity,” he said.

Ac­tivists, such as Mr. Car­de­nas, are count­ing on the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Jus­tice Depart­ment to step in and strictly en­force the Vot­ing Rights Act to pro­tect mi­nor­ity rights.

“Re­mem­ber that this is the first time we’ve had a Demo­crat in the White House dur­ing the redistricting process since [Lyn­don Baines John­son],” Mr. Car­de­nas said.

Repub­li­cans, how­ever, are con­fi­dent the new lines will with­stand scrutiny from both the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and the courts. State GOP Chair­man Steve Mu­nis­teri de­fended the map as ap­pro­pri­ate and fair.

“2010 demon­strated that a sub­stan­tial ma­jor­ity of Tex­ans sup­ported the Repub­li­can ticket, and there­fore it has been my po­si­tion that any new maps, in or­der to be fair to the elec­torate, re­sult in a sub­stan­tial ma­jor­ity of the dis­tricts con­tain­ing a Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity,” he said in a re­cent state­ment in sup­port of the GOP map.

Vet­eran lawmakers such as Mr. Doggett, Repub­li­cans and Democrats, are be­ing tar­geted by un­friendly leg­is­la­tors in other states across the coun­try.

In Illi­nois, which is los­ing one seat in Congress, House Speaker Mike Madi­gan and the Democrats in Spring­field have drawn lines that some po­lit­i­cal hand­i­cap­pers pre­dict will cost Repub­li­cans at least six seats in the state’s U.S. House del­e­ga­tion, turn­ing the cur­rent 11-8 GOP ad­van­tage into a 13-5 split for the Democrats. Long­time Reps. Judy Big­gert, Don­ald A. Manzullo and Ti­mothy V. John­son will face up­hill fights to hang on to their seats and first-term GOP Reps. Robert J. Dold, Robert T. Schilling and Joe Walsh are es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble un­der the new lines in that state.

In neigh­bor­ing Ohio, which is los­ing two seats, lib­eral fire­brand Rep. Den­nis J. Kucinich faces such a dif­fi­cult new Repub­li­ca­nau­thored map that there is talk the eight-term Demo­crat is con­sid­er­ing leav­ing Ohio al­to­gether and res­ur­rect­ing his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer in more-lib­eral Wash­ing­ton state.

Michi­gan Repub­li­cans, like lawmakers across the coun­try, drew new lines that pit in­cum­bents from the op­po­si­tion party against each other, lump­ing Rep. San­der M. Levin and Rep. Gary C. Peters, both Democrats, in the same district.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.