When the Republican Texas Senate on Monday unveiled proposed new district maps for Texas seats in the US House of Representatives, the potential impact on Houston’s larger list of congressmen and women was crystal clear. Local red districts will become redder and blue districts become bluer under the new plan, which means incumbent House Republicans Dan Crenshaw and Troy Niles, Democrats Al Green, Sheila Jackson Lee and Sylvia Garcia will likely face easy paths to re-election in 2022.
The district’s formation for U.S. Representative Lizzie Fletcher (D-H-H) is also becoming more democratic, but in a way that some expect will lead to tougher primary elections for moderate Democrats, in which her new electorate will include more left-leaning voters. of color.
Meanwhile, Wesley Hunt, Fletcher’s old Republican opponent for 2020, secured one of the two new seats in the US House of Representatives awarded to Texas based on the state’s population growth according to US Census data for 2020. Despite the fact that most of that population growth came from Hispanic Texas, neither of the two new territories proposed in Congress will be Hispanic.
Before the Senate’s new proposed congressional map was revealed, many Democrats questioned whether Republicans would try to remove Fletcher from office. The moderate Houston Democrat infuriated Texas Republicans when she upset her historic red district in 2018 with a victory over Republican Representative John Colperson, and in 2020, Fletcher fended off her well-funded challenger Hunt, a black Republican Army veteran. State-level conservatives and conservatives are seen as a rising star in the party — if they can get into Congress, that is.
But instead of redrawing Fletcher’s district to beat out more Republicans and give Hunt a fighting chance to take her down in a rematch, the Texas Senate’s Redistricting Committee subdivided portions of several Republican districts located in western Harris County to create District 38, one of the state’s Texas. Two new seats in Congress. Once the state’s political experts took a look at the new District 38, they could see Hunt’s name written all over it.
“They really created the district for him. It would be kind of rude for him not to run,” said Mark Jones, a Rice University political scientist and expert on Texas politics. Houston Press Tuesday morning.
About two hours later, Hunt confirmed that he would indeed politely accept the new seat in Congress that he had given the drawers of state maps on a bright red platter.
“I am very proud to announce my intent to run for Congress in the new 38th congressional district of Texas,” Hunt declared Tuesday. “Together with my family and team and with the support of Patriots across the country and here at home, we will complete the mission that I first embarked on in 2019.”
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The proposed new map would make Fletcher County 7 more democratic, capturing a diverse group of 200,000 left-leaning voters in Fort Bend County. The new Seventh District will go from being a mostly white area to one of the most ethnically diverse in the country — its new composition will be 30 percent Hispanic, 22 percent Asian and 21 percent black, according to US Census data.
It could mean an easier path to Fletcher’s re-election — if she is not elected by a more progressive local Democrat of color seeking to capitalize on the region’s newfound diversity.
“For Lizzie Fletcher, her interest has now shifted from November to March,” Jones said.
District 7 is set up as it’s currently configured well for someone like Fletcher, “a halfway Anglo Democrat,” according to Jones. “In fact, it was unlikely that anyone would challenge it even if the county kept its old borders. Now, it risks being challenged by an aspiring Democrat of color in a region that is now a minority majority.”
As for who this ambitious Democrat might be, Jones had two intuitions. “I think that one person who is probably thinking about it quite carefully right now would be Vice State Jin-Woo. Hence possibly Vice-President Ron Reynolds.”
Wu tried to curb speculation that he might challenge Fletcher in a tweet on Monday afternoon.
CD 7 has never been in better hands than under Tweet embed. I am grateful every day for her calm drive and willingness to help solve our problems (and unseat Culpersonson).
My mission in life has always been to turn Texas blue and restore the Texas Legislature. https://t.co/EDIbqU895L
– Jin-Woo (@GeneforTexas) September 27, 2021
In addition to the new 38 district in Harris County, the proposed congressional map includes a new bright blue district in traditionally liberal Austin. Jones said the choice of the state’s Republican map drawers to make one of Texas’ new districts solidly democratic rather than take away two new GOP seats was emblematic that Texas Republicans are more concerned with protecting their incumbents than doing the score against the Democrats in every possible way. “This is it [still] Jones argued.
Nehls and Crenshaw counties have become more cohesive for Republicans, but for Crenshaw’s 2 counties, Jones believes the decision wasn’t necessarily made with an ambitious Crenshaw in mind.
“While Crenshaw will likely go on to win his former district, there is a good chance he will run for the US Senate or other statewide office,” Jones said, “so this is the seat where it is now safe for whoever succeeds Crenshaw on this. position as a Republican.
One group angry about the proposed new maps is the United Latin American Citizens Association. Hispanic Defense Group leader Domingo Garcia said Monday he was angry that the newly drawn maps did not include any new Hispanic regions, calling the new congressional maps a “perversion of justice and a violation of the United States Constitution.”
“The biggest growth in Texas between 2010 and 2020 was Hispanics, which added to the state’s population boom. However, today’s map confirms that anyone except Latinos gets a new seat in Congress,” Garcia said. “Those responsible for this have mobilized Latino voters in black areas and diluted us everywhere else in one of the most outlandish examples of constituency manipulation we have ever seen.”
“The biggest growth in Texas between 2010 and 2020 was Hispanics, who added to the state’s population boom. However, today’s map confirms that anyone but a Latino will get a new seat in Congress.” — Domingo Garcia, National President of the NAACP Citizens of United Latin America
“Since the 1970s, LULAC has been challenging redistricting on the court every ten years, and we have always won. If senators don’t do the right thing and deal with this blatant suppression of our vote, we will go to federal court again to respect our voices and ours,” Garcia said. “.
Jones said he knew there would be legal challenges against the new maps due to alleged discrimination against minority voters, but said he was unlikely to succeed in preventing the maps from being adopted from earlier legal battles against GOP-drawn maps in previous redistricting. Years. Thanks in large part to the US Supreme Court’s decision several years ago to introduce a key clause into the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that required states including Texas with a history of legislative mapping that unfairly denied voters of color to obtain those maps that were drawn up. Pre-approved by the federal government.
Previously, the onus was on the state to prove that districts did not adversely affect the ability of underrepresented minorities to elect candidates of their choice. Now, the onus is on the plaintiffs to show that these districts were demarcated with this intent,” Jones said, which would be much more difficult to accomplish.
“Previously, the process was without that approval, you couldn’t use maps, so the courts were drawing new maps,” Jones said before the Supreme Court killed the federal pre-clearance law on redistricting. “Now, unless there is an injunction — which is unlikely, at least given these maps — these maps will be enforced until this issue is resolved, which could be before the 2024 election or perhaps the 2026 election. But certainly not before the 2022 election. .
Jones also doesn’t expect leading Democrats in the US House of Representatives from Texas to fight a massive battle against the maps behind the scenes. Other than Fletcher, Jones said the rest of them are likely satisfied with their chances of winning these new counties, in both the primaries and the general election.
“They’ll spit out voter suppression and illegal district manipulation, but in the end, they’re not going to do anything they can to derail the whole thing,” Jones predicted. “They will let it happen in the stadiums.”
Jones said that even a court-ordered remapping after years on the line likely won’t significantly change the proposed counties if previous remaps in Texas are any indication. “Even when it’s being repainted, the finishing touches are usually on the fringes.”
When asked what upset Texans with newly proposed congressional districts could do to respond before they were finally approved by the full legislature and Governor Greg Abbott as expected, Jones had only one recommendation: find a time machine.
“Go back to the summer and fall of 2020 and vote for a majority for the Texas House Democrats,” Jones said. “In the absence of that, there is really nothing you can do at this time. Finish. Cast and die. The rules have been written.”