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Lone Star Project Report

Texas Redistricting – What Happened Yesterday?

Congressional?

We simply don’t know yet. The Court is expected to release an interim congressional plan very soon. Predicting the congressional plan is difficult due to the addition of four new districts, which will require greater changes to existing districts than in the State House or State Senate plans. The legal battle centers on the State’s decision to reduce the number of minority opportunity districts in Texas from 11 out of 32 to only 10 out of 36. A Court-drawn plan that includes 12 or more minority opportunity districts will rightly be considered a victory. The growth in the Hispanic and African American populations in Texas warrant as many 14 minority opportunity districts.

Stay tuned, the Lone Star Project will provide more in-depth information after all maps are released and confirmed by the Court for the 2012 election.

The Federal Court in San Antonio released interim maps for the 2012 Elections for the Texas State Senate and State House late yesterday afternoon. Parties to the pending lawsuit filed brief responses to the plan earlier today. The final plans – probably with little or no change – will likely be ordered next week.

See the State Senate Map here and the State House Map here

A Court-drawn interim plan for Congress has not yet been released but is expected very soon. Overall, the interim State Senate and State House plans reunite large minority neighborhoods that were split apart in the State’s plan, as part of the GOP effort to undermine minority voting strength. While the Court pursued a strictly non-partisan course, the natural result of keeping communities of interest together results in more districts where Democrats can run with a realistic chance to win.

A detailed analysis of the entire state will be done when the map is made final. However, in response to several specific inquiries to the Lone Star Project today, here’s a rundown on the Court-drawn State Senate and State House districts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

State Senate

The Court essentially reversed the Legislature’s version of SD10 and returned the district to its original configuration. Davis won the district in 2008 by building a strong coalition of African American, Hispanic and like-minded Anglo voters. Since then, she has proven to be one of our state’s most capable legislators and most talented politicians. Davis has attracting the support of not only Democrats but independents and moderate Republicans as well. With Davis’s District 10 now intact, she will need to run a strong and effective campaign, but is the clear favorite for re-election in 2012.

Expect intense, near hysterical, insistence by local and State Republicans that they can win in the Court-drawn SD10 that is nearly identical to current district. Keep in mind though that if Republicans thought they could win the district in its original configuration, they would not have dismantled it during the legislative session.

Wendy Davis

Senate District 10

The Court essentially reversed the Legislature’s version of SD10 and returned the district to its original configuration. Davis won the district in 2008 by building a strong coalition of African American, Hispanic and like-minded Anglo voters. Since then, she has proven to be one of our state’s most capable legislators and most talented politicians. Davis has attracted the support of not only Democrats but independents and moderate Republicans as well. With Davis’s District 10 now intact, she will need to run a strong and effective campaign, but is the clear favorite for re-election in 2012.

Expect intense, near hysterical, insistence by local and State Republicans that they can win in the Court-drawn SD10 that is nearly identical to the current district. Keep in mind though that if Republicans thought they could win the district in its original configuration, they would not have dismantled it during the legislative session

Senate District 9

Ironically, Republican State House Member Kelly Hancock will benefit from the new map as well. Hancock was braced for a tough primary fight and then a possible loss to Davis in District 10 under the Republican Senate plan. Under the Court’s interim plan, Hancock’s House District is almost entirely within Senate District 9, which is an open seat. While he still faces a likely primary challenge, he will be the favorite in the primary, and the likely favorite in a General Election.

State House

The Court essentially threw out the Republican State House plan and redrew the House map using the 2001 boundaries as the starting point. The result is a map that much more accurately represents the minority population growth and the political behavior of Texas.

Under the Court’s interim plan, President Obama received 50 percent or more of the vote in 60 of the 150 districts. Obama scored in the high 40’s in seven other districts making them competitive for Democratic candidates. It is not unreasonable to predict that Democrats will pick up a dozen or more seats in 2012.

North Texas

The most dramatic changes to the state house map were made in Dallas County.

House District 107 currently represented by Republican Kenneth Sheets is now a strong majority minority district, and Sheets home is in District 114. HD107 is a near certain pick up for Democrats.

House District 105, currently Represented by scandal plagued Republican Linda Harper-Brown, is also reconfigured as a majority minority district where Obama received just over 50 percent of the vote. She clearly is endangered.

House District 108 retains the strongly Republican Highland Park and University Park, but nearby Democratic leaning neighborhoods have been added to the district. Obama received over 49 percent of the vote in District 108, putting incumbent Republican Dan Branch in danger in the general election, particularly if former Democratic Member Allan Vought runs in the seat.

In Tarrant County, the broad political dynamics remain the same, with three districts favoring Democratic candidates and eight favoring Republicans.

House District 90 remains a center city Hispanic opportunity district with Lon Burnam as the incumbent. Representative Marc Veasey’s District 95 remains a strong African American opportunity district based in southeast Fort Worth.

The main change in Tarrant County is a cosmetic one. Whereas under the State’s plan, the new district number 101 was assigned to a heavily Democratic district made up of neighborhoods in east and southeast Arlington, under the Court’s interim plan this district is assigned number 93. The district remains an open seat. It includes significant portions of current District 96 that Chris Turner represented for one term and of current District 93 which Paula Pierson represented for two terms. Both former members are now running in the new open District 93