April 24, 2003
Redistricting is optional

The story so far: Tom DeLay has continued to push for congressional redistricting in Texas to get more Republicans in Congress. He's drawn up a map that would likely shift five seats from Democrats, who currently have a 17-15 edge, to the GOP. This map, which was supposed to be confidential has been circulating around the state amid charges that it was stolen from one of DeLay's legislative aides. Democratic Rep. Martin Frost has a copy and has been demanding that DeLay make it public, while DeLay has charged that one of Frost's aides was behind the alleged theft. The DPS is investigating the theft, meaning that there are now two active investigations that have resulted from the question of redistricting.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, state Attorney General Greg Abbott has ruled that the new Congressional boundaries that were drawn in 2001 by a three-judge panel are valid through 2010 unless the Legislature chooses to replace them. DeLay had been agitating for Abbott to declare that only the Lege could set the boundaries and that the districts that were in place for the 2002 election were good for that election only. As the Senate is unlikely to tackle redistricting as things now stand, this throws a bucket of cold water on DeLay's wishes.

Even if the Lege eventually takes this question up (perhaps in 2005), DeLay's mysterious map is unpopular on several fronts. House Speaker Tom Craddick doesn't like it because it splits up Midland and Odessa. Minority groups are opposed; the advocacy group MALDEF has said that if the issue comes up before the Lege they will push for the creation of two more Hispanic-majority districts, using a similar argument that DeLay has used to justify a more GOP-friendly landscape:

Texas gained two more House seats in 2000 because of its 1990s population boom. Both those seats went to Republicans, but 60 percent of the state's growth came from Hispanic population growth. Texas' Hispanics went from 4.4 million in 1990 to 6.7 million in 2000.

So, it looks like things will stay as they are, but never assume that Tom DeLay will let this issue rest. As long as he's in power, he'll keep pushing it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 24, 2003 to Killer D's | TrackBack