Still dreaming the impossible dream

Via Greg, I see there are two editorials discussing State Sen. Jeff Wentworth’s biennial quest to pass a bill that would take the chore of redistricting away from the Legislature and hand it to a balanced bipartisan commission. (His bill hasn’t been filed yet, or at least you can’t find it yet by doing a search for it. Out of curiosity, I called his office and was told it’s still being worked on.) I’m perfectly happy to see this happen, and if it does I hope his proposed commission is charged with ensuring that districts are compact and composed of communities of interest, but come on. There’s a reason things like this are called “quixotic”. The Republican leadership didn’t spend six months in 2003 carrying Tom DeLay’s water so that Jeff Wentworth could undo it all.

(Idle Machiavellian thought: Wentworth is up for reelection next year. Do you think DeLay and his cronies will threaten to have him primaried if he gets any traction? Wouldn’t surprise me, that’s for sure.)

I don’t want to let my pessimism detract from the rightness of this idea. The voters should be picking the representatives, not the other way around. One thing that really stuck out at me in Byron‘s post about Martin Frost’s effect on increasing Democratic performance in Dallas County was realizing that only one of five Congressional districts which contain a part of Dallas County is represented by a Democrat. Dallas was a fifty-fifty county last November, but the Congressional split is 4-1. I’ve never said that DeLay isn’t good at what he does, just that what he does isn’t good.

(For comparison purposes: Harris County’s delegation is 4-3 GOP, Bexar’s is 2-2, El Paso is 1-1, Tarrant is 4-0, and poor butchered Travis is 2-1.)

UPDATE: Byron notes in the comments that Wentworth was nearly knocked off in the primary in 2002:

JOHN H. SHIELDS REP 25,265 48.82% JEFF WENTWORTH(I) REP 26,481 51.17%

Wowser. May want to keep an eye on that for next year.

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2 Responses to Still dreaming the impossible dream

  1. Byron L says:

    Well they almost knocked off Wentworth four years ago in the primary.

    As for the DFW metroplex… a fair redistricting would have three Democratic/Dem leaning seats in the metroplex. A Black plurality and Hispanic plurality district in Dallas County, and a competitive district that lies mostly within the city limits of Fort Worth (think Mike Montcrief’s old state senate district). The entire metroplex is about 62-63% Republican and a 5-3 (GOP/Dem) delegation would reflect that.

    DFW metro and Houston metro are close in population, but its much easier to split up DFW as the minority/Democratic populations are more disconnected. Central/South/Southeast Fort Worth has a large minority population, but not large enough for a congressional district. In Dallas County, it would be easy to make two Democratic majority congressional districts within the county, but its also possible to make one super-majority Democratic district that takes in most of the major concentrations of Democratic voters in the county. And that’s what DeLay did…

  2. P.M.Bryant says:

    I’m a little late on this, but I just heard about this today.

    Initially, my thoughts coincided with yours: that this had no chance and as a result wasn’t worth pursuing. But after a moment, I began to think differently, and now believe we should take up this issue in Texas strongly:

    With the current gerrymandering system in place, dreaming of a Democratic legislature before the next redistricting may be even more of an “impossible dream” than this.

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