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Susan King suspends Senate campaign

Sorry to hear this.

Rep. Susan King

State Rep. Susan King has suspended her race for an open state Senate seat while she receives treatment for chronic depression, a condition she has battled “for some time,” her campaign announced Monday.

King, R-Abilene, still hopes to appear in the Republican primary to replace retiring GOP Sen. Troy Fraser but won’t make a decision about whether to run until closer to the Dec. 14 filing deadline, campaign spokesman Bryan Eppstein said.

“It has been difficult for Susan to take time out to address her personal battle with depression, but this is a serious condition that simply could not be delayed any longer,” said Eppstein, who praised King’s courage in being “open and public about her situation.”

King will not run if her doctors and family advise against it, he said. “Susan is a dedicated public servant and scrappy campaign fighter,” Eppstein said. “If she’s cleared for the campaign, she will run to win.”

See here and here for the background. I wish Rep. King all the best for a swift and complete recovery.

Rep. Susan King not running for re-election

Though she may run for Senate instead.

Rep. Susan King

State Rep. Susan King has decided against seeking re-election as she considers a run for the Texas Senate, the Abilene Republican announced Tuesday.

King said she would announce by the end of the month whether to launch a bid for Senate District 24, where Troy Fraser is stepping down after nearly 20 years representing the region in Central Texas. In the meantime, King has formed an exploratory committee and stocked it with $1 million from her state House campaign account and a family loan.

“I will spend very little of these funds in the exploratory period, but feel it is important to be a serious candidate invested in winning should I decide to run,” King said in a news release.

See here for more on SD24. The Trib reported on the possible field of candidates in that race shortly after Fraser announced his exit. I don’t know much about Rep. King, which actually makes her kind of appealing to me as a potential replacement for Fraser, on the grounds that if she’s been that low profile, she’s unlikely to have been one of the wacko birds. And let’s face it, being better than Troy Fraser is a mighty low bar to clear. By the way, if you click that Trib link, you’ll see that it describes SD24 as “[covering] a large swath of Central Texas, stretching from northwest of San Antonio through the Hill Country up to Abilene”. Because of course San Antonio and Austin should share a Senate seat with Abilene.

Are there West Texas pickup opportunities available?

Depends on how you look at it, I suppose.

Former Potter County Democratic Party chairman Abel Bosquez said he plans to run for the same Texas House seat he did not win in last year’s election.

“I am ready to go again,” said Bosquez, who was soundly defeated by Amarillo Republican Four Price in the District 87 race. “We can’t sit out this or any other election.”

Bosquez said he intends to make a formal announcement on or around Labor Day.

[…]

Although first-time Republican candidates Price and John Frullo of Lubbock, as well as second-time candidate Jim Landtroop of Plainview, cruised in last year’s election, West Texas Democrats said they’ll fare much better next year and could even win a House seat.

“We’re energized,” said Lubbock County Democratic Party Chairwoman Pam Brink.

Brink’s main task is to recruit candidates for House districts 83 and 84, both anchored in Lubbock. District 83 is represented by Charles Perry and District 84 by Frullo. Perry is a freshman and did not have a Democratic opponent in November.

[…]

Heflin had narrowly defeated Landtroop in the 2006 election when both were vying for what was an open seat in District 85.

If the Texas House redistricting map the Legislature approved this session survives numerous court challenges, Landtroop would find himself campaigning in large sections of the Panhandle.

His new district would stretch all the way to Lipscomb County.

Heflin said he has yet to decide if he’ll run again. If he does, he would likely run against Rep. Rick Hardcastle, R-Vernon. Hardcastle’s redrawn district would include 14 counties in the Panhandle and South Plains regions, including Crosby where Heflin lives.

Although no Democrat has expressed interest in running against Amarillo Republican John Smithee in District 86, Bosquez said he would not be surprised.

Note that if you look for HD85 in the viewer (Plan H283), HD85 is the new district anchored in Fort Bend County. Landtroop would be running in HD88, which is being vacated by Warren Chisum. I admire Bosquez and Brink’s attitudes, but the numbers aren’t pretty. Here’s the Google spreadsheet for Plan H283, and here’s a summary of the 2008 election returns in districts that I’d call “West Texas” districts:

Dist Inbumbent Obama Houston =============================== 68 Hardcastle 22.13 31.36 69 Lyne 28.07 34.27 71 King, S 26.98 32.88 72 Darby 26.68 33.35 81 Lewis 24.61 28.88 82 Craddick 21.49 23.47 83 Perry 24.62 28.57 84 Frullo 35.99 36.34 86 Smithee 18.66 21.58 87 Price 24.70 28.48 88 Landtroop* 21.30 27.35

Like I said, not very pretty. If you squint you could maybe see HD84 go our way over time, but that’s about it. You’re not going to win any of these seats via turnout and demographics, that’s for sure. You’re only hope is to convince the voters in these districts that they’ve gotten screwed by their legislators. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that that’s precisely what happened this past session, so if there’s ever a time to try a persuasion campaign, this is it. It’s possible your audience will be more receptive in 2014, after we’ve had yet another deficit-dominated session, but there’s no reason not to start laying down that message now. The mantra out here should be simply “Your legislator voted for things that will harm/have harmed this district. I will vote to help this district.” Will it work? Probably some, maybe a little more than some, but those are some steep hills to climb. You can’t win if you don’t play, though, and if there was ever a time that a message of change might resonate, this has to be it. I wish Bosquez and Brink and all of their colleagues the very best of luck in their quest.

Chron story about the House redistricting map

Here’s what the Chron had to say about the initial redistricting map for the State House. I’m just going to focus on a couple of things:

The statewide map creates one new Latino district, maintains the current number of black opportunity districts and pairs 16 incumbents in districts where they would face one of their colleagues in the 2012 elections.

I can understand the assertion that it’s hard to accurately reflect Texas’ rapidly changing population demographics with something like the SBOE map and its paltry 15 districts. But there are ten times as many House districts as there are SBOE districts. Surely we can do better than that.

Karen Loper, Vo’s chief of staff, said her boss saw trouble ahead in the proposed pairing with his Houston colleague who represents a neighboring district.

“We certainly have a great concern about combining two districts that are Voting Rights districts,” she said. “On the face of it, it looks like it would be a violation.”

Loper noted that both districts are an amalgamation of minority populations, including Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans, but their combined strength would be dissipated. “The Asian population goes down because they’re scattered among several districts, and so do Hispanics,” she said.

I’m not a lawyer, but it’s not clear to me that Vo’s district is a VRA-protected district. As I understand it, the current HD149 is majority non-Anglo, but no single group has a majority share of the population, and as such it doesn’t qualify for VRA protection. But in case you missed the part where I said I’m not a lawyer, don’t take my word for this. I’m sure it would come up in any litigation related to the Solomons map, if it is the basis for the final product.

On the matter of my first point, one group with an interest in seeing more Latino opportunity district has put its money where its mouth is by presenting a map of its own.

There are 30 [Latino-majority districts] now. In the proposal from the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, that would increase to 35, with new seats that represent opportunities for Latinos in the Panhandle/South Plains, in West Texas, and in Hidalgo County. Two existing seats, in Tarrant and Harris counties, would be redrawn so that Latinos make up the voting-age majority.

The task force includes the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the League of United Latin American Citizens, the American GI Forum, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, the William C. Velasquez Institute, the La Fe Research and Education Center, and the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project.

You can go here and select base plan H115, “MALDEF Statewide House Proposal 1”, to see their handiwork. Here’s a view of Harris County under their plan:

MALDEF map of Harris County State Rep districts

The unlabeled green district in the middle is HD148. Note that they put us back at 25 seats, and they maintain Rep. Jessica Farrar as my Representative. Their map has one more incumbent pairing than the Solomons map does, and all of theirs are R-on-R. You can see who drew the short straw for that here. I note that they keep the Scott/Torres pairing; Rep. Mike Villarreal had expressed concerns about that in the Solomons map. The Harris County seat that gets redrawn as Latino majority is HD138, but it’s only a majority at the population level; the district is 5.15% Latino by population but only 45.6% by voting age population, and likely much less than that at the CVAP level. Finally, you will be pleased to note that the infamous WilCo barbell is gone, replaced by an HD20 that still includes Burnet and Milam but is joined by a much larger (and presumably less populated) portion of northern WilCo. An open seat, HD71, is added to the existing HD52. I’m sure we’ll see plenty more maps before all is said and done. Texas Politics has more.