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Some CD28 speculation

Via Dos Centavos, an Express News article fro last Friday on how the CD23/CD28 conundrum may get resolved.

Some local Democrats hope to see Laredo dropped from District 28 in the remapping process, which starts with parties in the case filing their proposed remedies in federal court by July 14.

“I think what’s inevitable is that Laredo will be reunited in one district,” said state Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits challenging the Republican-drawn map. “But I don’t know if it’s going to be in District 23.”

For his part, [Rep. Henry] Cuellar doubts Laredo would be stripped from the 28th district.

“It’s a possibility – but not likely,” he said. “There could be a situation where I’m not even affected. … There’s nothing magical about Laredo Hispanics.”

Whoever creates the new boundaries, he noted, could pull in Hispanics from the Odessa area.

State Rep. Robert Puente, D-San Antonio, likewise believes Laredo will stay put.

“I think at the end of the day you’re going to have a Cuellar district and you’re going to have a [Rep. Henry] Bonilla district,” Puente said. “I don’t think the Legislature or the courts would do a scenario where two incumbents would have to run against one another.”

As it happens, the newly-minted blogger Paul Burka explains why West Texas is unlikely to help out Rep. Bonilla in making CD23 a Hispanic opportunity district again.

Why was Speaker Craddick telling folks that the Legislature should draw the lines? To make Bonilla’s seat safely Republican, the Legislature split Webb County, exporting nearly 100,000 Latinos in Laredo to an adjacent district and importing a like number of Anglos from the Hill Country into Bonilla’s. The Supremes ruled — duh — that the swap violated the Voting Rights Act. To replace the Latinos he lost, Bonilla has cast his eye on District 11, which, unfortunately for him, just happens to centered around Craddick’s hometown of Midland. Craddick and incumbent congressman Mike Conaway are perfectly happy with the district the way it is.

Why not just restore District 23 to its former boundaries by returning the 100,000 Latinos Bonilla needs? Er, this is a little touchy, but Bonilla doesn’t want these Latinos. He won reelection in 2002 with just 51.5 percent of the vote, losing 92 percent of the Latinos in the district. The difference between Laredo Latinos and the ones in District 11 is that the latter have a history of low voter turnout.

Wouldn’t Craddick and Conaway be willing to help out a fellow Republican? Not a chance. This is redistricting, remember — the hardest hardball politics there is. The problem isn’t losing the Latinos, it’s taking in the 100,000 Hill Country Anglos whom Bonilla would have to give up. The last thing Craddick wants is for the balance of power in the district he worked so hard to create to shift eastward to the fast-growing San Antonio exurbs, causing Midland to lose control.

Of course, if the court ultimately redraws CD23 for this cycle, then CD11 could play a role in it. And despite Governor Perry’s implied threat to redo it again in the Lege, there’s no guarantee of any one particular outcome if it goes back into the sausage grinder, especially if Craddick is weakened by further depletion of his troops after November. So never say never.

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  1. Nathaniel says:

    Prediction: all of Webb County goes to Cuellar, who in turn gives up a chunk of south San Antonio to Bonilla. It’s the easiest solution for both incumbents. Cuellar avoids getting another tough primary challenge from a San Antonio Democrat and gets to shore up his Laredo base, Bonilla avoids a faceoff with Cuellar and gets more of San Antonio where he is already strong.

  2. Cincinnatus says:

    South San Antonio=Webb County… and that still doesn’t solve the solution of putting 100,000 EXTRA Latinos into CD-23. It can’t be just a swap, it has to be a swap plus 100,000.

    And I’m sorry, but putting in 100,000 Latinos from anywhere in Texas puts Bonilla in jeopardy.