June 22, 2003
Redistricting, then and now

In the 77th Legislative session in 2001, the House and Senate failed to agree on a new congressional map. A new map had to be drawn, since the 2000 Census gave Texas two more seats in the US House. The state House drew a map that left most existing districts essentially intact, while the Senate plan would have given a majority of seats to the GOP. Governor Rick Perry declined to call a special session to force the sides to come to an agreement, and in the end a three-judge federal court panel ruled in favor of the House map.

Here are a few choice quotes from the July 6, 2001 issue of the Houston Chronicle, in the story that covered Perry's announcement that there would be no special session.

"Although I expect Texans will be disappointed with the inability to accomplish this task, I believe Texans would be even more disappointed if we expend considerable sums of taxpayer money to call a special session that has no promise of yielding a redistricting plan for Congress," [Governor] Perry wrote [in a letter sent on July 3 to Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff and House Speaker Pete Laney].

Obviously, Perry has no qualms about expending "considerable sums of taxpayer money" this time around, even though a map is already in place.

"Texans will likely be better served by impartial judges than by highly partisan Democratic legislators attempting to maintain political power," [State Republican Chair Sarah] Weddington said.

I'm willing to bet that sentiment would come as a surprise to Kevin. Clearly, highly partisan Republican legislators attempting to maximize political power is just ducky to Weddington, as one might expect.

"Since it's the governor's opinion that a consensus cannot be reached in the legislative process, it's his prerogative not to call a special session," [House speaker Pete Laney] said. "However, his decision means the Legislature will not get the opportunity to debate a fair, equitable congressional plan that was approved by the House Redistricting Committee."

In case my point eluded you the first time, I'll repeat it. Governor Perry was perfectly content to let judges sort it all out in 2001 when the Democrats held a majority in the House. The Republicans couldn't get the plan that they liked best through the Lege, so they took their chances with the courts. They lost, and now here they are again looking for a second bite at the apple. That's all there is to this. Maybe they'll succeed, and maybe they'll fail again, but please spare me the notion that this current attempt to redistrict has anything to do with "fairness" and "principle".

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 22, 2003 to Killer D's | TrackBack

I don't really believe in the VRWC, just in the ability of certain right-wing demagogues to snatch worthwhile (for them) opportunities. But, damn, Perry's turnabout certainly makes you wonder if he wasn't hoping for exactly this situation.

Perry and DeLay are behaving Sleazily with a capital S.

Posted by: Ginger on June 23, 2003 10:42 AM