State Readies for Second Phase of Redistricting Trial

Jul 9, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas is going to reopen the redistricting case left over from 2011. The first phase of the case involves the maps for the Texas House of Representatives; the second involves the U.S. House maps for 2011. The case comes at an…

Regarding the Redistricting Op-Ed by Perry and Dewhurst

Jun 10, 2013 By Paul Burka

Governor Perry and Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst published an op-ed piece on redistricting in today’s Houston Chronicle. Here is an excerpt: Following every federal census, the Texas Constitution requires the Texas Legislature to draw new district boundaries for the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate and U.S. Congress, which the Legislature…

Abbott’s Redistricting Play

Mar 29, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Attorney general Greg Abbott’s push to reopen the redistricting battle that was waged in 2011 and wound up in the federal courts threatens to blow up the session. The District Court of the District of Columbia has already ruled that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minority voters while…

Between the Lines

Jan 20, 2013 By Texas Monthly

Ah, redistricting—that partisan, vengeful, hazardous battle for domination the Legislature fights every decade. Here we go again.

“The League of Dangerous Mapmakers”

Sep 24, 2012 By Paul Burka

Robert Draper, my former colleague at TEXAS MONTHLY, has written a piece about redistricting in the current issue of the Atlantic. One of the main characters in his story is Tom Hofeller, the former redistricting director of the Republican National Committee, now a paid consultant and a master…

Is redistricting “fair”?

Sep 17, 2012 By Paul Burka

Matt Mackowiak tackled the issue in the Statesman, in an opinion piece headlined “Redistricting doesn’t need fixing.” He writes: With the primary elections in a redistricting year now in the rearview mirror, the predictable lament of losing candidates is to blame the district lines. If only the process…

State loses redistricting case; Abbott plans appeal

Aug 29, 2012 By Paul Burka

The outcome of this case was predestined. For months, the D.C. court warned that Texas’s failure to provide Hispanic opportunity districts when there were huge Hispanic population gains could be construed as evidence of intentional discrimination. There was no way a fair court could ignore the facts in the case:…

Davis tweets: victory in SD 10

Feb 15, 2012 By Paul Burka

“Senate District 10 partners victorious in preserving&strengthening ’08 district. Lege damage repaired. Thanks to all who supported&believed.” [tweeted @ 1:33 p.m.] * * * * Just pointing out the obvious: The saving of Davis’s seat could take on added significance if senators choose the successor to Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst.

Mappily Ever After

Feb 1, 2012 By Brian D. Sweany

Once again, redistricting has devolved into a bitter, partisan, confusing, chaotic mess. But take heart, voters! There is a better way.

GOP looks to 2013 for redistricting

Jan 31, 2012 By Paul Burka

Nothing prevents the Legislature from drawing new maps. Redistricting is no different from any other bill, and it doesn’t have to be limited to the session after a census. That said, I don’t see the point of going through the exercise. So what if Republicans endorse a referendum to re-redistrict…

San Antonio court files unusual supplemental order

Dec 5, 2011 By Paul Burka

This is quite remarkable. The San Antonio court that drew the redistricting maps for Congress, the state House, and state Senate issued a supplemental order that amounts to a defendant’s brief on its own behalf. With no prompting from a higher court, the district court launched into an explanation of…

Abbott v. the DOJ

Dec 2, 2011 By Paul Burka

Let me see if I understand this. First, Abbott wants to avoid submitting the Texas redistricting maps for preclearance at the Department of Justice. He tells everybody that he has figured out how to bypass the DOJ by going to the D.C. Circuit and moving for summary judgment from Republican-friendly…

The Hill: Doggett says R’s want to eliminate Anglo D’s

Jun 13, 2011 By Paul Burka

The story ran in The Hill, which, as many readers are aware, is a daily newspaper devoted to coverage of Congress. An excerpt from the story: "They do not want Anglo Democrats representing any part of Texas," Doggett said. "They went after [former Democratic Reps.] Martin Frost and Chet Edwards, and I'm the third one they have sought to eliminate. "They're trying to complete the task that [Republican former House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay's staff set out for them." DeLay infamously pushed state lawmakers to redraw Texas's lines in 2003, which helped Republicans take a majority of the state's House seats. There were 10 White Democrats in the state's delegation in 2002. Doggett and Green are the only two who remain. * * * * I wrote something similar during the 2003 redistricting. It was obvious that DeLay's idea was to get rid of the white Democrats. Some will remember the infamous memo by a DeLay aide--I think it was Jim Wilson--who kept saying ha-ha-ha about the Democrats who were marked for annihilation (Frost, Edwards, Doggett). DeLay's map eviscerated seats that had been Democratic for eons, including the old Wright Patman district in northeast Texas and the Charlie Wilson seat in the big timber country around Lufkin. Republicans really don't care if minority Democrats hold congressional seats. The R's can be fairly certain that, this being Texas, minority politicians will  seldom have influence outside of their districts--of course, there are exceptions, like Barbara Jordan.

Richard Murray: D’s will win House majority before 2020

May 5, 2010 By Paul Burka

Murray, the University of Houston political science professor and pollster (although he says he doesn't do much political polling any more), spoke yesterday at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. I asked him beforehand about the Thibaut-Murphy race. (His son is a consultant for Thibaut.) He said that it was going to be very close, but Thibaut might have a slight edge because the Anglo population in the district has been declining by around 2% per election cycle. Murray began his talk by describing himself as a moderate Democrat. He addressed the difference between the one-party Democratic state that existed when he arrived here in the sixties, and the one-party Republican state that exists now. "The problems are more serious with the current one-party system than with the one-party system of the sixties," he said. "The voters in the Democratic primary were more representative of the state as a whole than the voters in the Republican primary are today." This is true. The Republican party did not hold primaries in most counties. Texans were conservative, but they were conservative Democrats. The Democratic party was split between liberals and conservatives, so that a broad spectrum of opinions was represented in the primary. Almost everybody voted in the Democratic primary, including the small number of people who identified themselves as Republicans. Murray addressed the subject of Hispanic voting. Hispanic registration, he said, was 21%, but Hispanic voter turnout was only 12%. The Anglo vote will keep going down, he said. This decade will see 400,000 to 500,000 more Anglos coming to Texas -- but 4 million "other." Anglos will be 10% of the total increase. Republicans have competed for the Hispanic vote, Murray said. They have competed well, but Murray foresees a significant reversal.

Have House D’s reached their high-water mark?

Nov 30, 2008 By Paul Burka

My colleague and friend Patricia Kilday Hart has written an excellent story about the speaker's race that appears in the November 28 issue of the Texas Observer. (We will have competing stories, as I have "written" one that will appear in our January issue. You will see why "written" is in quotes when the issue comes out around a week from now.) In her story, Hart writes, "Now Democrats are poised to win back control of the House at the close of the decade, just in time for the next round of legislative redistricting." This made me wonder: Are the Democrats "poised to win back control of the House?" Or are they approaching their high-water mark? Here's the list of all House seats won by Republicans, with district number, opposition (U = unopposed, L = libertarian only, D = Democrat only, DL = Democrat and Libertarian), and percentages of R and D candidates. Races in bold-face indicate potential swing districts. My comments follow the list. 2 -- Flynn, L 4 -- B. Brown, DL, 63.61 - 35.17 5 -- Hughes, U 6 -- Berman, L 7 -- Merritt, L 8 -- B. Cook, U 9 -- Christian, DL, 62.75 - 35.39 10 - Pitts, L 13 - Kolkhorst, U 14 - F. Brown, L 15 - Eissler, U 16 - Creighton, U 17 - Kleinschmidt, DL, 53.99 - 42.84 18 - Otto, 65.43, D, 68.54 - 31.45 19 - Hamilton, DL, 63.92 - 33.98 20 - Gattis, DL, 64.70 - 30.52 24 - Taylor, L 25 - Bonnen, L 26 - C. Howard, U 28 - Zerwas, DL, 60.22 - 38.02 29 - Weber, D, 60.47 - 39.52 30 - Morrison, U 31 - Hunter, DL, 50.13 - 46.79 44 - Kuempel, L 53 - Hildebran, L 54 - Aycock, L 55 - Sheffield, DL, 53.92 - 43.38 56 - Anderson, L 57 - Orr, DL, 70.54 - 26.21 59 - S. Miller, DL, 61.64 - 35.80 60 - Keffer, D, 76.76 - 23.23 61 - P. King, DL, 72.52 - 24.19 62 - Phillips, D, 68.40 - 31.59 63 - Parker, DL, 72.97 - 22.65 64 - Crownover, DL, 56.95 - 39.39 65 - Solomons, L 66 - McCall, L 67 - Madden, L 68 - Hardcastle, U 70 - Paxton, L 71 - S. King, L 72 - Darby, L 73 - D. Miller, DL, 69.43 - 25.96 81 - Lewis, L 82 - Craddick, DL, 62.12 - 35.30 83 - Jones, U 84 - Isett, U 86 - Smithee, DL, 78.68 - 18.26 87 - Swinford, L 88 - Chisum, U 89 -Laubenberg, U 91 - Hancock, DL, 61.27 - 35.91 92 - T. Smith, D, 63.72 -36.27 94 - Patrick, L 97 - Shelton, DL, 55.33 - 42.57 98 - Truitt, DL, 70.42 - 26.64 99 - Geren, DL, 64.79 - 32.41 105 - Harper-Brown, DL, 48.72- 48.67 (still undecided) 108 - Branch, D, 60.60 - 39.39 112 - Button, DL, 56.06 - 39.64 113 - Driver, D, 58.50 - 41.49 114 - Hartnett, U 115 - Jackson, L 121 - Straus, L 122 - Corte, DL, 66.03-29.89 126 - Harless, DL, 59.40 - 38.41 127 - Crabb, DL, 65.64 - 32.29 128 - W. Smith, U 129 - Davis, D, 58.51 - 41.58 130 - Fletcher, L 132 - Callegari, L 135 - Elkins, DL, 58.39 - 39.94 136 - Woolley, L 138 - Bohac, D, 59.00 - 40.99 144 - Legler, D, 51.15 - 48.84 150 - Riddle, DL, 64.34 - 33.53 The most important thing about this list is that 40 of the 76 Republican seats were uncontested by Democrats. Of the 36 contested seats, Republicans won 23 of these with more than 60% of the vote. This means that 63 of the 76 Republican seats are safe seats, unless something unforeseeable occurs, such as a scandal. This leaves the Democrats with 13 seats to work with. Let's take a look at them:

A Census of Power

May 31, 1999 By Paul Burka

Twenty and a half million. That’s Texas’ projected population in 2000—an increase of more than 20 percent since 1990—and Republicans are salivating at the prospect of gaining seats in the mandatory 2001 redrawing of legislative and congressional districts. Any area that did not keep up with the state’s growth rate…

Shape Up

Sep 30, 1994 By Gregory Curtis

Edward Blum ran for Congress in 1992, lost, and then decided to change America. He has succeeded. He was one of six plaintiffs in a Texas case that, along with similar cases in North Carolina and Louisiana, will help reverse the racial separation and antagonism that infects our public life.