And Then There Were None

No white Texas Democrats in Congress, that is. Unless the U.S. Justice Department or a federal court finds violations of the Voting Rights Act, the new map for Texas is a twofer for Tom DeLay, of Sugar Land, the majority leader of the U.S. House, who conceived and executed the brazen mid-census redistricting coup. It ensures continued Republican control of Congress by turning seven districts represented by white Democrats into Republican bastions and the remaining three into minority Democrat bailiwicks. The aim is to polarize Texas politics along racial lines, which is to the GOP's benefit—at least for now.

BREAKING UP IS EASY TO DO

Districts 1 and 4. Targets: Max Sandlin (Marshall) and Ralph Hall (Rockwall).

To neutralize the advantage of incumbents, the redrawn boundaries take away these Democrats’ most loyal constituents and replace them with voters they’ve never represented. In District 1, Sandlin loses the Democratic counties along the Red River and picks up the heavily Republican counties of Smith (Tyler) and Gregg (Longview). In District 4, conservative Democrat Hall loses Smith and Gregg, where he drew considerable bipartisan support. He gains Sandlin’s Red River counties—but also a big chunk of Republican Collin County.

TURN OUT THE LAMPSON

District 2. Target: Nick Lampson (Beaumont).

His old district took in the upper Gulf Coast, running from the Louisiana border down to Galveston. Lampson retains his home county of Jefferson, a labor stronghold, but Galveston is gone. In its place are east Houston suburbs—and, in all likelihood, a new Republican congressman.

DOWN TURNER

District vanished. Target: Jim Turner (Crockett).

The DeLay map dismembers Turner’s Piney Woods district between Beaumont and Tyler and parcels it out among safe Republican seats, including districts 1, 5, 6, and 8. This shatters the “community of interest” principle—keeping areas with common concerns together—in favor of partisanship. Here, the rural, small-town territory formerly represented by Turner, a rural, small-town Democrat, will henceforth be represented by six Republicans, five of whom live in the Dallas, Fort Worth, or Houston suburbs.

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

District 9. Target: Chris Bell (Houston).

His former district incorporated the refinery towns along the Houston Ship Channel, black and Hispanic neighborhoods, and the Rice University-Texas Medical Center area— the archetypal white-plurality, urban-Democratic district. Not anymore. The new district, only 17 percent white, is drawn to elect an African American.

THAT DOGGETT WON’T HUNT

District 10. Target: Lloyd Doggett (Austin).

What’s Lyndon Johnson’s former Hill

Tags: POLITICS

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