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Redistricting hearings

Byron’s on the job covering the redistricting hearings going on around the state. Be sure to read the various accounts of the brouhaha in Brownsville. I will be at the Houston hearing tomorrow morning and will report what goes on wen I return.

Easily the most ludicrous thing that has been said or will be said by anyone in this whole ridiculous saga was said by Rob Beckham, a former Abiliene City Council member and an obviously sore loser who failed to knock off Charlie Stenholm in 2002:

Beckham assigns Stenholm a generous share of the blame for the threat to the 17th District.

“We are a Republican district that has continued to vote for Congressman Stenholm,” he said. “Charlie’s ego has kept him running for office.”

Stenholm should have retired, switched parties “or done something to protect Abilene,” Beckham said.

Amazing. I think I lost five points of IQ just reading what he said. Hey, you Republicans, you wanna know why you can’t win those five Congressional districts that voted over 50% for Cornyn, Perry, and Dewhurst in 2002 but keep sending guys like Stenholm back to DC, there’s your answer: You’ve run stupid candidates, and the voters have seen right through them.

That in a nutshell is the thing that frosts me the most about this whole thing. It’s very much like the phony push for term limits back in the early 90s – the party that can’t win certain elections that it thinks it should decides the best way to achieve its aims is to change the rules. Jesus H. Christ, Cornyn and Perry got 67% and 72% of the votes in Stenholm’s district. How much friendlier a demographic do you guys need?

[deep breath, deep breath]

OK, that’s better. Meanwhile, I hope people have noticed that Hispanics appear to be none too pleased with redistricting. Despite claims that the DeLay plan would lead to more black and Hispanic Congress members, one plausible scenario that could result from the DeLay map is for the one Hispanic Republican to lose his seat:

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, a Democrat who claims bipartisan support, said U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, was in danger of being unseated in his own party’s primary if lawmakers adopt a redistricting map approved by the House panel during the regular session.

That map, with some changes, is expected to be filed as a starting point for debate during the special session called by Gov. Rick Perry.

Bonilla, a former television producer who has been in Congress for 10 years, has been showcased by President Bush and other Republican leaders in an effort to attract more Hispanics to the GOP.

The GOP proposal would almost completely transform Bonilla’s district, which now stretches from San Antonio across a vast stretch of West Texas to El Paso. He would keep part of Bexar County but exchange the West Texas counties for suburban counties north and east of San Antonio.

Wolff, a former mayor of San Antonio and a former state legislator, said Bonilla would trade a district with a Hispanic majority for one with an Anglo majority. There is a “good chance” that he could lose a challenge in the Republican primary under the proposed map, Wolff added.

Finally, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has accused the county GOP of playing the race card in an email to its supporters:

The target of Jackson Lee’s accusation is an e-mail the local party sent its members, urging them to attend the Texas House Redistricting Committee hearing scheduled Saturday at Texas Southern University.

The e-mail includes a photo of Jackson Lee at a lectern and the caption: “She will be there to express her views … will you be there to express yours?” The caption does not identify the congresswoman.

“I do not believe for a minute that everyone to whom this e-mail was directed knows that is a picture of a congresswoman from the 18th District,” Jackson Lee said. “Many of them will simply see an African-American behind the podium, along with the Republicans’ foreboding language.

“Unfortunately, the Republicans chose to play the race card,” she said. “It is deceitful and it is shameful. The Harris County Republican Party should not simply apologize to me.

“They should apologize to the African-Americans in the Houston area and across the nation.”

County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill claims that emails were sent yesterday and will be sent today that have photos of Chris Bell and Gene Green in them. As for the veracity of Jackson Lee’s charge, I couldn’t say. She’s my Congress member, but I may or may not be able to indentify her from a contextless photo, though one could certainly argue that the photo in Woodfill’s email wasn’t exactly without context. Truthfully, I’d probably assume it was Jackson Lee.

That doesn’t mean I think there’s nothing to what she’s saying here. Remember, one of the things the DeLay map does is move the heavily black Fort Bend Precinct 2 out of his own district and into Jackson Lee’s. With Fort Bend growing progressively less Anglo – one of the things Bob Stein said at the recent Grassroots conference is that the Fort Bend Independent School District is majority nonwhite – it’s very much in his best interests to move as many nonwhite voters out of the 22nd CD as he can.

Don’t believe me? Here are the precinct by precinct results from 2002. According to the Fort Bend County Clerk’s office (whom I called to check on this), in the four-digit precinct number, the first number corresponds to the County Commissioner precinct. Add up the votes for Precinct 2 as I did, and you’ll get that DeLay lost by a margin of 7503 to 5461. It’s just a fraction of the total he won by, but DeLay knows where his bread is buttered, and so does the Harris County GOP.

I’ll report from the hearing tomorrow. This is looking like it’ll be more fun than I first thought it would.

UPDATE: Fixed some errors in the paragraph about GOP voting in Stenholm’s district.

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One Comment

  1. Ginger says:

    I don’t know if Croft and I can make it or not to the thing tomorrow (probably not), but give ’em hell for us.