Senate approves its map

They wasted no time, which is another way of saying that they didn’t bother giving anyone else much time to provide input or feedback.

Definitely protecting herself

The Texas Senate has approved a new political map for its own members that would entrench Republican dominance in the chamber for the next 10 years, even as Democrats argued the changes do not reflect the interests of people of color in the state who have fueled Texas’ growth over the last decade.

The proposal, put forth by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, was approved late Monday by a vote of 20-11 and would draw safe districts for GOP incumbents who were facing competitive races as their districts diversified in recent years and started voting for more Democrats.

Sixteen Republican incumbents would be drawn into safe districts for reelection, while two Senate seats being vacated by Republicans would almost certainly go to new GOP candidates over Democrats next year based on the percentage of voters in the district who voted for Donald Trump over Joe Biden in last year’s presidential race.

At the same time, Huffman’s proposal added no additional districts where people of color would represent a majority of the district’s eligible voters, even as Black, Hispanic and Asian Texans drove 95% of the state’s growth since the last census. Hispanics, in particular, were responsible for half of the increase of nearly 4 million people in the state’s population and now nearly match the number of white Texans in the state.

The state currently has 21 districts where the majority of eligible voters are white, seven with Hispanic majorities, one where Black residents are in the majority and two where no racial group makes up more than half of the total.

“The maps that are being proposed are not an accurate reflection of the growth of Texas,” said Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, who leads the Senate Hispanic Caucus. “Without any changes to this current map, the state of Texas could potentially go 30 years, think about that, three decades, without having added a Hispanic or Latino opportunity district.”

Menéndez proposed a map that he crafted with civil rights organizations to add one district in North Texas where Hispanics would make up the majority of eligible voters and be poised to select their preferred candidate. Hispanics are now the largest ethnic group in Dallas County. That proposal was rejected.

Upon pushback from Democratic senators, Huffman insisted that she’d drawn the maps “blind to race.”

“I have followed the law, I have drawn blind to race, I believe the maps I’ve drawn are compliant under the Voting Rights Act,” she said.

See here and here for the background. I’m sure Sen. Huffman would like you to believe what she said – she may even believe it herself – but the odds that one could reduce the number of Hispanic opportunity districts after a decade in which half the population growth was driven by that community without having a clear idea of what one was doing and why are just really small. If there’s one thing I trust about the Republicans in this process, it’s that they know what they’re doing. They might be blinkered by longer-term demographic changes – the 2011 map was supposed to be a 20-11 Republican map, as this one is supposed to be 19-12 – but there’s nothing blind about their actions. Their eyes are wide open.

Speaking of 20-11:

As Braddock notes elsewhere, redistricting is first and foremost “every person for themselves”, and the votes surely reflect that. There could have been a more aggressive gerrymander that might have made life more difficult for one of those three Democrats, but there wasn’t. And since this was going to pass anyway, this is what happens. The SBOE map was also approved by the Senate, with everyone paying about as much attention to it as I had expected. Both go to the House now, which is working on its own map.

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7 Responses to Senate approves its map

  1. blank says:

    “I have followed the law, I have drawn blind to race, I believe the maps I’ve drawn are compliant under the Voting Rights Act,” she said.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I have to think this isn’t going to work. 10 years ago (prior to Shelby County) the Republicans tried to blow up SD 10. It didn’t work because during preclearance the blow up was considered a violation of the VRA. Now, they are trying to blow SD 10 again, but because of Shelby County, they don’t have to go through preclearance. However, Shelby County didn’t change the definitions of a VRA violation. It just says that they don’t have to get the mapped precleared. So, this blow up of SD 10 should be shot down based upon the precedent that blowing up SD 10 is a violation of the VRA. It will just take longer to get this ruling because of Shelby County.

    In other news, you can’t blow through a red light just because there is no long a red light camera monitoring the intersection.

  2. Joel says:

    “blind to race” is a carefully-worded way of saying “NOT blind to ethnicitiy.”

  3. C.L. says:

    Re: “In other news, you can’t blow through a red light just because there is no long a red light camera monitoring the intersection.”

    Half true. Thanks to the Kubosh contingent, you can blow through red lights and not be afeared of getting a ticket if no LEO sees you do it.

    You know, because ‘Murica !

  4. J says:

    I see people blow red lights in Midtown all the time, even in front of cops, and they never get even a flash of the lights. Parking, on the other hand, you better watch out.

  5. Mainstream says:

    Blank, I am a lawyer with some familiarity with the VRA, and doubt there is any VRA violation in the construction of SD 10. The district has 936K persons, of whom 459K are non-Hispanic whites, 165K are African-Americans, and 264K are Hispanics of all races. To violate Section 2 of the VRA, plaintiffs would have to show that it is possible in that region to create a compact district that is majority black [would need to find 303K more] or a district that is majority citizen Hispanic [probably 350K more] as a first condition, and then that current voting patterns disadvantage either one of those groups from electing candidates of their choice. A heavy lift. Blacks and Hispanics do not form a joint minority group; each is evaluated separately. There is substantial political science research of political conflict between the two groups.

  6. asmith says:

    Don’t like the map but glad I will have a Senator that lives in Dallas, and I am no longer represented by someone from Hunt or Van Zandt county who or their staff rarely crossed into the Dallas city limits.

  7. Pingback: Senate passes Congressional map – Off the Kuff

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