Some local Democrats hope to see Laredo dropped from District 28 in the remapping process, which starts with parties in the case filing their proposed remedies in federal court by July 14.
"I think what's inevitable is that Laredo will be reunited in one district," said state Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits challenging the Republican-drawn map. "But I don't know if it's going to be in District 23."
For his part, [Rep. Henry] Cuellar doubts Laredo would be stripped from the 28th district.
"It's a possibility - but not likely," he said. "There could be a situation where I'm not even affected. ... There's nothing magical about Laredo Hispanics."
Whoever creates the new boundaries, he noted, could pull in Hispanics from the Odessa area.
State Rep. Robert Puente, D-San Antonio, likewise believes Laredo will stay put.
"I think at the end of the day you're going to have a Cuellar district and you're going to have a [Rep. Henry] Bonilla district," Puente said. "I don't think the Legislature or the courts would do a scenario where two incumbents would have to run against one another."
Why was Speaker Craddick telling folks that the Legislature should draw the lines? To make Bonilla's seat safely Republican, the Legislature split Webb County, exporting nearly 100,000 Latinos in Laredo to an adjacent district and importing a like number of Anglos from the Hill Country into Bonilla's. The Supremes ruled -- duh -- that the swap violated the Voting Rights Act. To replace the Latinos he lost, Bonilla has cast his eye on District 11, which, unfortunately for him, just happens to centered around Craddick's hometown of Midland. Craddick and incumbent congressman Mike Conaway are perfectly happy with the district the way it is.
Why not just restore District 23 to its former boundaries by returning the 100,000 Latinos Bonilla needs? Er, this is a little touchy, but Bonilla doesn't want these Latinos. He won reelection in 2002 with just 51.5 percent of the vote, losing 92 percent of the Latinos in the district. The difference between Laredo Latinos and the ones in District 11 is that the latter have a history of low voter turnout.
Wouldn't Craddick and Conaway be willing to help out a fellow Republican? Not a chance. This is redistricting, remember -- the hardest hardball politics there is. The problem isn't losing the Latinos, it's taking in the 100,000 Hill Country Anglos whom Bonilla would have to give up. The last thing Craddick wants is for the balance of power in the district he worked so hard to create to shift eastward to the fast-growing San Antonio exurbs, causing Midland to lose control.