Texas House finalizes gnarled American house card that gives GOP a decade of Hispanic growth bounty
WASHINGTON – Texas House was set to approve a Congressional electoral plan on Saturday night that would lock in an overwhelming Republican advantage for a decade – despite a declining population share and the fact that Texas’ two new seats stem from the growing Hispanic population. .
The gerrymandered card allocates 24 of 38 seats in the US House to the GOP, a generous ratio given that Republicans only garnered 53% of the vote in congressional races last November.
“They would like to wipe African Americans and Hispanics out of the state by not allowing them to vote for someone they choose,” said Representative Yvonne Davis, a Democrat from Dallas, accusing Republicans of “racism” and “racist racism”. . “
The state Senate had previously approved the map, which has implications far beyond Texas as Republicans attempt to topple President Nancy Pelosi midway through 2022.
The card is guaranteed to invite litigation on the grounds that it leaves Hispanic influence to stagnate, even though nearly all of the 4 million new Texans enumerated by the Census Bureau in 2020 are Hispanic.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area gets no additional representation in Congress, even though the region’s growth has driven the state. In particular, it still lacks a predominantly Hispanic district, even though 95% of the state’s growth over the past decade has come from Hispanics and other non-whites, including in the north. from Texas.
Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, called it “the elephant in the room, the big glaring omission … You really have to make an effort to deny North Texas Latinos the chance to elect their candidate. choice”.
The latest census found that nearly 1.1 million people have moved to Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties since 2010.
That’s more than double the growth in Travis, Williamson and Hays counties, which share one of the two new seats.
Democrats have the advantage in this Austin-area district. Republicans will control a new headquarters in the Houston area.
The demographics in the two new districts favor white candidates.
Hispanic voters would now control seven congressional districts in Texas, up from eight on the current 36-seat map.
“This is another step in the shameful history of our state to discriminate against blacks, Latinos and [other minority] citizens by passing a racially gerrymandered card, ”said Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, chair of the Democratic House caucus. “There are a lot of issues with this card.
Rep. For House Redistribution Speaker Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, defended the plan, saying it was fully compliant with federal law while preserving political subdivisions and communities of interest and protecting people. holders.
“Yes, there has been a great percentage of growth,” he said.
The League of United Citizens of Latin America demanded that the new districts of South Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth faithfully reflect the growth patterns, saying without these districts the map amounts to overt racial discrimination.
“This plan is a blatant partisan takeover,” said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas. “A fairly well-drawn map would have given more neighborhoods of opportunity to the minority communities responsible for all of our population growth.”
Growth in Texas has outpaced most of the country, and no state has gained so much in the redistribution of the 435 US House seats. California has slipped but remains the largest state.
The third extraordinary legislative session that Governor Greg Abbott called this year ends on Tuesday. Lawmakers were frantically trying to finalize the cards for the elections to the State House and Senate, the United States House, and the State Board of Education.
Democrats complained that Hunter’s committee held a hearing on the plan on Wednesday with just 12 hours’ notice. By then, the Senate, also controlled by Republicans, had already approved the plan.
Over 80 people testified at the hearing. All of them expressed their opposition.
To avoid the risk of delay beyond Tuesday, the House panel approved the Senate’s plan without modification, choosing to remove potential adjustments during a floor debate that began late Saturday afternoon. .
The GOP majority rejected one Democratic demand after another, offering little rhetorical hindsight as Democrats used the floor debate to voice their grievances.
The new map divides Dallas County into six congressional districts, represented by three Democrats and three Republicans.
It groups non-whites into districts represented by three black lawmakers – Reps Eddie Bernice Johnson and Colin Allred of Dallas and Marc Veasey of Fort Worth – which keeps them out of neighboring Republicans-owned districts.
The new district of Allred is only 36% Anglo. Johnson’s is 18% and Veasey’s 13%.
At the same time, some minority residents are being moved to more rural districts where white Republicans dominate, diluting their influence.
The gnarled and jagged 33rd district of Veasey stands at one point by a sinew of territory barely three-tenths of a mile wide in Grand Prairie. It is nested with District 6, itself connected at its narrowest point by a strip in Arlington only four-tenths of a mile wide.
“You can see how the North Texas district lines are taking ridiculous shapes to undermine the growth of minority voters in Tarrant and Dallas counties. The boundaries of District 33 and District 6 are particularly offensive, ”Turner said.
District 6 favors GOP Representative Jake Ellzey of Waxahachie, who took office on July 30 after a special election to replace Ron Wright, the first congressman to die in power from COVID-19.
White voters will make up just under half of the voting age population, with large numbers of black and Hispanic voters in Northwest Dallas County combined with rural voters as far away as Palestine and Rusk in the is from Texas.
GOP cartographers have used the 10-year process to fortify a number of their incumbents.
First-year Rep. Beth Van Duyne, former mayor of Irving, won last fall by just 4,700 votes, a margin of 2 points. The new map transforms the 24th arrondissement from a 52-47 Joe Biden neighborhood into a 55-43 Donald Trump neighborhood.
In a glaring example of voters handpicked to dilute the impact of Democratic voters, the town of Denton is moved to a district that gave Trump a 60-point margin, connecting the Democratic stronghold to the far reaches of the enclave , 400 miles.
Overall, the new map increases the number of one-party strongholds – making Republican seats more Republican and Democratic seats more Democratic.
Republicans will control 23 seats with a margin of more than 10 points, compared to 14 seats on the current map; Democrats get 13 of those seats, three more than they got in the last election.
The 5th District, held by Representative Lance Gooden, R-Terrell, one of the most conservative members of the House, is said to include a quarter of a million black and Hispanic residents of Dallas County – as well as a sufficient number of voters in rural eastern counties to leave a majority of 52.5% Anglo votes.
Hispanic advocacy groups called the card discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Since the United States Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby v Holder decision, states have been able to change electoral districts without seeking Department of Justice approval. Lawsuits after the amendments are passed take years to go to court.
The map leaves two competitive districts – one in South Texas, owned by Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, the other stretching from San Antonio to El Paso, owned by Rep. Tony Gonzalez, R-San. Antonio.
In Collin County, GOP representative Van Taylor de Plano is securing reinforcements in District 3, which, after years of Democratic gains, has remained in the Trump column by just one percentage point.
Representative Roger Williams, R-Austin, would also end up with a higher concentration of Republicans, and the 25th District gets rid of Austin and takes Parker County in North Texas.
The new card pits two Houston Democratic incumbents against each other, moving Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to Rep. Al Green’s district.
There is a neighboring unincorporated Democratic district that Republicans expect she would run in. But Democrats were furious and tried unsuccessfully to change the map on Saturday to remove the twinning.
The Jackson Lee District was formerly represented by Barbara Jordan.
“This district was dismantled, removing two universities, the downtown and the third historic district,” complained Turner.
Political writer Gromer Jeffers Jr.contributed to this report.