Now there are maps.
Federal judges in San Antonio unveiled maps for the state’s congressional delegation and for the state House this afternoon, and they did it in time to allow the state to hold its delayed political primaries on May 29. The court also signed off on Senate plans agreed to earlier this month.
The court has not yet ordered a May 29 election, but on Monday asked the political parties to detail the election law waivers they would need in order to hold their primaries on that date. They put out the maps early enough to take comments from the various parties on them, but didn’t immediately seek those comments, and aren’t required to do so.
Attorney General Greg Abbott said this set of maps from the court are much closer to those originally approved by the Texas Legislature last year. “I consider these interim maps to be a substantial improvement over the maps previously issued by the San Antonio court,” he said. “The court properly rejected demands by some plaintiffs to draw drastic and over-reaching maps.”
The state objected to the court’s first maps because the judges started their drawings from the current political maps instead of starting with the maps approved by the Legislature last year. The U.S. Supreme Court kicked those back, telling the Texas judges to start from the Legislature’s work, correcting for violations of the constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.
At least one of the groups that sued the state was happy with the congressional plans, even though an incumbent Democrat from Austin was pinched in the process.
“The interim congressional redistricting plan complies with the mandates of the Voting Rights Act by creating two additional Latino-majority congressional districts,” said Nina Perales, MALDEF Vice President of Litigation and lead counsel for the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, a coalition of groups pushing for more Hispanic clout. “Therefore, this litigation has achieved what the State of Texas failed to include in its legislatively-enacted congressional redistricting plan — districts that recognize the significant population growth of Latinos in Texas.”
The new maps for the Texas House, for example, are apparently identical in Dallas and Tarrant counties to those drawn by lawmakers. In the Senate map, the only changes are the ones made after the state agreed to restore a Tarrant County to the way it is now.
Here is a link to the Congressional map on the Texas Legislative Council’s redistricting website.
Here is a link to the House map on TLC’s website.
Here is a link to the Senate map on TLC’s website.
Barring appeals, these maps will be used for the 2012 elections. Below are the new maps. We’ll fill in details throughout the afternoon.
• No incumbent members of Congress were paired in the court map.
• In 2008, Republican John McCain got more than 50 percent of the vote in 24 of the 36 congressional districts. The current delegation has 32 members; 21 of them are Republicans.
• The map puts incumbent Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, in a Republican district — like the one drawn for him by the Legislature — that stretches from the southern border of Tarrant County, on the north, to include much of Hays County, south of Austin.
Doggett immediately announced he will file in the new Congressional District 35, which stretches from Austin to San Antonio. He has already set up a fundraiser at a supporter’s home in San Antonio. “As an effective advocate for schools, veterans, health care and retirement security, my service fits well with the neighborhoods that have now been joined from South San Antonio to North Austin,” he said in a news release. “I will continue the visits with working families that I already have under way. And I will continue to stand up to Rick Perry and other extremists, whose misguided policies are threatening our families’ security.”
• The newly created CD-33 in Dallas and Tarrant counties voted strongly for Barack Obama in the 2008 election, and Anglos account for less than 20 percent of the voting age population. Hispanics account for 61.3 percent of the VAP in that district.
• U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, will be in a district that reaches up the coastline to Matagorda County and inland almost to the Travis County line. But that’s still a Republican district, according to the McCain-Obama numbers from 2008.
• Republican John McCain carried 97 of the 150 House districts in the 2008 presidential election.
• Several Texas House members were paired, including Erwin Cain and Dan Flynn; Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton and Allan Ritter; Connie Scott and Raul Torres; Jose Aliseda and J.M. Lozano; Warren Chisum and Jim Landtroop; Rodney Anderson and Linda Harper-Brown; Cindy Burkett and Joe Driver; and Jim Murphy and Beverly Woolley.
Most of those are empty challenges. Scott and Torres are both planning to run, but in each of the other pairings, one of the candidates is either retiring, moving to another district or running for another office.
The Senate maps are very close to those drawn by the Legislature, with changes made in Tarrant County after an agreement between the state and lawyers for Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, among others. She’ll have a district much like the one she has now: It votes Republican most of the time, with her 2008 win a notable exception.
• Republican John McCain carried 20 of the 31 districts in the Senate map (including Davis’ SD-10) in the 2008 presidential election.