UPDATE: The plan now seems to have been removed from the Lege Council's site. Good thing I already downloaded it. The links are now changed.
One of the beautiful things about hitting "Save Draft" is that occasionally, you get a news update before the following morning. Such is the case with State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg Congressional Map. I couldn't think of any particular reason why a Rep from outside the Redistricting Committee would otherwise post a map before the committee did. Well, now we know why. It's not really her map ... it's the Joe Barton map. If you're paid up for the pricey Capitol Inside paywall, here's the link for that. Otherwise ...
Laubenberg told Capitol Inside that she'd proposed the plan at the request of Dub Maines, a veteran redistricting specialist who's the deputy district director for Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of Ennis. Barton has been at odds over a new U.S. House map for Texas with U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, a San Antonio Republican who's been spearheading the reapportionment effort for the state's congressional delegation.
Unless anyone else knows of population growth in Buna, I suspect that the CD35 drawing is sure to earn some early, and easy ridicule. For whatever it's worth, most of my own iterations of Congressional maps had CD2 moving closer to Harris County, freeing up room for a new seat to cover much of southeast Texas. In other instances, that part of the state might have folded into any of three other Congressional districts. So I guess the only thing that makes this map remarkable is that it maintains CD2 as being the Spring-to-Beaumont monstrosity yet also frees up enough real estate to give the Greater Crockett Metroplex it's own Congressional District. Yeah, like I said ... easy ridicule.
My first clue that the map might be the one Barton was peddling was due to fact that it grants Barton his wish of denying DFW minorities a new seat. I'd be a bit shocked if the DFW solution in this map passes legal muster. But while it remains to be seen how much out of this map meshes with the Congressional delegation's wish lists, there may be clues in other regions that we may see in the committee and/or Lamar Smith map. It's not terribly surprising to see Lloyd Doggett being a target, for instance. And the approach taken in this map is pretty straightforward in terms of how that might be accomplished by any GOP-tilting map.
That this map turns Blake Farenthold's CD27 north from Nueces is something I sensed might be the case from my own iterations of the Congressional map. CDs 15 and 34 may look like they'd be problematic in terms of Hispanic population, but they seem passable at first glance (demographics here). I'll be curious to see what the election math is in those cases, though. What else becomes of this map, we'll see. I'd be shocked if the committee map wasn't already finished and just waiting for the most opportune time for the House & Senate to schedule committee hearings in order to minimize public input and give as little time as possible for Democratic members of both chambers as little opportunity to poke what I suspect will be obvious holes. Whether or not they matter to the federal judge that ends up with the final map on his desk, we'll have to wait and see.
For now, here are the big clusters of urban/suburban districts google-ified: