Friday, July 14, 2006

Texas Republicans trying to change map in their favor again

Last month, the Supreme Court upheld the Texas Congressional map forged by redistricting save for one district they said violated Latino rights under the Voting Rights Act. While most agree that the problem could be solved by placing Laredo into one district - as LULAC has proposed - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, has put forth a plan by the state to a federal court that drastically rearranges voting lines in a region stretching from Austin to El Paso and Laredo, the DMN has reported.

In South Texas, the state's plan would put Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo in the vast west and south Texas district that is now represented by Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla of San Antonio, if he chooses to run in his home county. That West Texas district was declared unconstitutional.

A new district would be created in Blanco, Kendall and Kerr County, allowing Bonilla to run in a Republican-friendly Hill Country area.


This part of the plan more or less makes sense, and more importantly, would solve the problem without altering the partisan make-up of the current Congressional delegation. But the Republicans didn't stop there:

The biggest shake up in the state's suggested map would be in Austin. The hometown of longtime Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett would shift into a district now represented by Rep. Lamar Smith, a San Antonio Republican.

The change could pit Smith against Doggett on the ballot. Doggett also could choose to run in his current district, even though if the state's plan is accepted, it wouldn't include Austin.

Travis County, which contains Austin and is one of the most liberal counties in Texas, could end up split among three Republican districts with a majority of voters in that district in other counties.


Shredding Travis County and the city of Austin is completely unnecessary to remedy the Voting Rights Act problems of the current map. Indeed, it's clear that Republicans are actually trying to use this as an oppurtunity to further dillute Democratic voting power in Texas and possibly get rid of Rep. Lloyd Doggett whom they failed to vanquish the last time they changed the map.

The federal panel has scheduled oral arguments for Aug. 3 in Austin. Hopefully, somehow, this won't get passed.

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