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Redistricting and party-switching, South Texas-style

Some good discussion about the future prospects of South Texas turncoat Aaron Pena, from Greg, Rachel, the Trib, the DMN, and Greg again. Couple points to add:

1. If Greg says a Republican-leaning district can be drawn for Pena, I for one believe it. Having said that, there’s no guarantee I can see that Pena gets to be the chair of the Redistricting Committee – surely someone who’s been a Republican for more than five minutes might put in a claim ahead of him – and even if he does, there’s no guarantee that the House’s map gets adopted. The Senate has a say in this as well, and that’s before we consider any preclearance issues. Pena may know what he wants, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll get it.

2. Even if everything goes Pena’s way, it’s still a little weird to see the guy trade a 70% Democratic district for a 55% GOP one. Yeah, it’s almost certainly true that the Republicans would have tried to carve out that Republican-leaning district in Hidalgo regardless, and maybe he didn’t like his odds in a primary fight against Veronica Gonzalez. He’d be right about that, too. So we may as well be clear about what his motivations were.

3. To my mind, the best thing we Democrats can do about this is to point out at every opportunity that Pena made the choice to team up with Debbie Riddle and Leo Berman and the rest of the bring-Arizona-to-Texas squad. We can’t control what kind of district he gets, but we can sure work to make sure that it isn’t destiny. Pena chose a side. Make him full owner of that choice.

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One Comment

  1. Greg Wythe says:

    1a. I’m not suggesting that AP has to be the redistricting chair to make anything happen for his benefit. In fact, I think Todd Hunter is the likelier chair for next session. Mere speculation on my part as to what part of the “table” that AP was given for his party switch. The other big item on his committee list was Ways & Means – and I’d be doubtful that he’ll be given that. It should also be noted that he was chair of Emergency Preparedness last session.

    1b. I’m not the historian that others are, but I’d be shocked to see the Senate throw a monkey wrench into things. What I do see for this session is one of two scenarios for whether or not it goes to the LRB. I think there’s enough self-motivation for each body to draw up their lines on their own and not leave it to anyone else. But the House won’t be able to fully reconcile everyone’s self-interest when they decide who to axe in West Texas, East Texas, and which members are left unhappy about having to compete in a tight district in 2012. In other words, the House can only beat itself on this. Not sure many people want to roll the dice and leave it to the LRB, but if there’s enough losers in the process while it’s in the House, they can certainly gum up the works.

    1c. Preclearance shouldn’t be an issue with Hidalgo. A 50-55% GOP seat can be created that is still 70% or more Hispanic. The one I drafted was over 75%.

    Two additional points on the possibilities for Hidalgo:

    – If they draw out Veronica’s precinct from the hypothetically “New Aaron” seat, there should be a safe seat for her to run in based on what’s left behind. There might still be a pairing with another State Rep in the county to worry about, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see someone move. Basically, if you re-build Veronica’s current district as the GOP seat for Aaron, everyone else might have a safe place to live afterward and the end result could be that Aaron and Veronica effectively switch districts.

    – If it’s true that Aaron sees himself as a Congressman, then all bets may be off for a GOP seat in Hidalgo. Veronica running as an incumbent against a lesser-known GOP candidate in a Presidential year should favor her even in a slightly GOP-leaning district. Part of the reason I have a hard time seeing Aaron running for Congress is that it negates the possibilities that the state and county GOP want to create in Hidalgo. But then again, Aaron’s not really in it for them, either. Furthermore, as long as they try to maintain Farenthold’s seat, anything they do to build a second GOP Hispanic seat for Aaron would mean they’d both have a tough time winning in a Presidential year.