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Congressional Redistricting: The Floor Debate (and liveblog)

Long time, no blog. I'm shaking off a sinus infection that I think was inspired by Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavs and I can no longer remember the last time I shaved, so I'm feeling a little in common with Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. What can I say, dual playoff seasons get a little weird around here.

In any event, today is the big floor debate for the House passage of the Congressional redistricting map. Expect some fights but since the votes are already in, the bulk of this day will be spent laying the groundwork for future court cases and some minor perfecting amendments. Here's the slate of maps that are presently loaded on the Lege Council's site ...

C149 - House Committee Plan
C152 - Hughes (1,5 amendment)
C153 - Riddle (2,8 amendment)
C154 - Turner/Davis (statewide substitute)
C155 - Turner/Davis (statewide substitute)
C157 - Johnson (5, 30, 32 amendment)
C161 - Hilderbran (statewide substitute)
C163 - Martinez Fischer (statewide substitute)
C164 - Martinez Fischer (statewide substitute)
C165 - Martinez Fischer (statewide substitute)
C166 - Dukes (statewide substitute)
C167 - Hilderbran (statewide proposal)
C168 - Alvarado (Harris County region amendment)
C169 - Geren (12, 26 amendment)
C170 - Solomons (West Texas amendment)
C172 - Kuempel (15, 27, 34, 35 amendment)

I think we can all predict the outcomes of most of these - the Dem statewide substitutes will go down, as will Eric Johnson's amendment to the Dallas-area districts. I've only had a chance to look at Riddle's amendment and it seems minor enough that I suspect it will be tacked on. Hughes' amendment just carves up Wood County differently, so it probably has a shot of being accepted. But I've got no idea what to make of Harvey Hilderbran's statewide substitute. I can't image that it will pass, but I'm just curious what it does differently. Nothing jumps out at me, so it's time to do a little homework before the House bell rings at 10am.

Early Update: From Texas Insider ...

Texas Insider learned late this afternoon that as part of tomorrow’s Congressional Redistricting Debate in the Texas House of Representatives, a complete substitute will be offered to the Seliger-Solomons Map, known as Plan C149 – or C.S.S.B. 4. House Committee Report. The newly crafted map, known as Plan C161, addresses previous concerns regarding retrogression in Districts 20 & 29, as well as creates a new Hispanic District, paranthetically CD 35, which the House Redistricting Committee did not.

C.S.S.B. is legislative parlance for Committee Substitute to Senate Bill, in this instance, 4.

Plan C161 would be offered as an amendment to the Committee’s plan, C.S.S.B. 4.

According to sources, Plan C161 includes:

  • 26 Republican Congressional Seats
  • 10 Democratic Congressional Districts
  • and is drawn in a manner that will withstand the all-but-assumed court challenge expect predict will be filed over retrogression issues.
  • Pre-floor bell update: Some early observations on what the Hilderbran substitute does differently in Harris County ...

    - Downtown goes back to CD18 ... it had been in CD29 in the committee map.
    - The Medical Center goes back to Culberson ... it had been in CD18 in the committee map.
    - The CD7/CD18 divide north of Southwest Freeway remains at Shepherd, which means that Culberson would lose a good chunk of geography that is in the Metro rail line planned for the area.
    - CD7 gains back a little bit more of Meyerland and - even more surprisingly - parts of Gulfton. Let's just say that when I shop at the Fiesta on Hillcroft & Bellaire, I will have traversed into his district.
    - The Heights is a little more whole within CD18.
    - CD29 goes back out to Baytown, picking up more Ship Channel and loses the southern extension beyond Hobby Field.
    - Just beyond the Houston area, CD14 sheds much of Beaumont, which should make the election numbers better for Ron Paul and still remain safely GOP in the new CD36 that now includes Beaumont and Lufkin.

    10:00 ... the opening bell has rung and we're waiting for all the schoolchildren to get to their desks. In the meantime, a quick perusal of the DFW area didn't have anything obvious that I picked up on. But they did take out the Lake Como community from CD26 and placed it into CD12. If nothing else, it removes one point that Marc Veasey would easily ding the previous map on. But the broader dilution and fracturing of minority communities in Tarrant and Dallas counties remains.

    10:20 ... formalities and whatnot (and proclamations for state baseball playoffs) going on on the floor. In the meantime, here's some hot, steamy election math that I'm guessing Aaron Pena is drooling over in the C161 plan ...

    CD15 - 2010
    Perry     46.5% ... White     51.3%
    Dewhurst  50.2% ... LCT       46.6%
    Abbott    55.1% ... Radnofsky 42.9%
    Patterson 49.6% ... Uribe     47.9%
    CD15 - 2008
    McCain    44.1% ... Obama     55.0%
    Cornyn    42.2% ... Noriega   55.7%
    Wainright 39.7% ... Houston   57.6%
    Price     39.8% ... Strawn    57.7%

    That doesn't mean terribly much for Pena in the upcoming election and it's probably an open question as to whether the 2010 scenario is replicable in the short term. But it's as good a map as I think can be drawn for Pena interests. That said, let's at least see where he lives today. And for good measure, here's the open district that's in the new C161 ...

    CD34 - 2010
    Perry     46.3% ... White     51.3%
    Dewhurst  50.0% ... LCT       46.2%
    Abbott    56.0% ... Radnofsky 41.5%
    Patterson 48.5% ... Uribe     48.5%
    CD34 - 2008
    McCain    43.8% ... Obama     55.2%
    Cornyn    41.2% ... Noriega   56.4%
    Wainright 36.8% ... Houston   59.4%
    Price     37.5% ... Strawn    59.3%

    10:27 ... gametime. SB4 being laid out by Solomons. Looks like Rep. Menendez is the one credited for getting some SSVR and HCVAP improvements in districts like CD20 and CD23. The plan under discussion is C170, so we're not yet up to the more mysterious C161. There's already a flurry of amendments-to-the-amendments. Mike Villarreal interrupts Solomons to ask him to restate the improvements that his amendment makes over the committee map.

    CD35 ... 51.9% HCVAP
    CD20 ... SSVR goes to 56.3%
    CD23 ... 54.8% HCVAP

    Geren's amendment (C169) goes through on voice vote. Keumpel's amendment (C172) is withdrawn. Hughes' amendment (C152) goes through on voice vote.

    Riddle's amendment (C153) gets an amendment-to-the-amendment (C176) which is approved on voice vote. Solomons notes that there has been some disagreement over the need for this change. It involves 28 people and contains the Exxon world HQ. Solomons moves to table, says it's overreaching by Congressman Poe. Rep. Fletcher takes the mic to say that a new district (CD8) coming into Harris County seems like overreaching to him. Rep. Harless follows up and Rep. Dutton seems supportive. Could be a Harris Co. delegation vs the world moment on the floor. The amendment (#5) goes down 77-54.

    Rep. Johnson's C157 up next. A quick withdrawal. Rep. Alvarado's C168 follows. Both of her Harris County Hispanic districts are under 50% SSVR. In fact, CD29 clocks in at 35.5% and 35.3% nonSuspense SSVR, while CD36 clocks in at 42.5% and 42.4%. Anglo numbers look low enough so that I don't doubt that both districts would elect candidates of choice. But it poses a very interesting question as to what numerical goals are in order for Hispanic opportunities in Harris County. Solomons notes the retrogression in CD29 as a reason for opposition at the same time that the new district is not a Hispanic majority district. Alvarado regroups by describing the districts as coalition districts. Marc Veasey follows up from the back mic, noting that there are other factors that are looked, namely election performance. The motion to table succeeds 94-47.

    Rep. Johnson's C157 is now back up with an amendment to an amendment (C177). It's acceptable to the author, and hence adopted, as amended. Minor tweaks to Dallas-area districts is all that I see.

    Rep. Veasey's C121 is up. It's the same plan that didn't make it through committee. Veasey references an article in D Magazine about the growth in the African-American population in DFW. Not sure if this is the one, but it's at least a fascinating read on demographics if not. The plan goes down 93-46.

    Rep. Alonzo's C142 is next. It's another plan that failed in committee. Some lengthy back & forth, much of which had been covered in committee. It goes down 96-49.

    Rep. Turner's C155 up next. Definitely a very different map. Goes down 93-49.

    Rep. TMF's C163 up next. Goes down 92-48. We're definitely getting into the grinding phase of amendments and substitutes by now. A lot of the arguments are starting to sound alike.

    Rep. Johnsons' C157 is mentioned as next up. It's a move to reconsider. C178 is the substitute amendment to this. Solomons says it's acceptable. It's adopted.

    Rep. TMF's C164 follows. Goes down 94-48. TMF follows with C168. If I'm anywhere near correct on reviewing this, it looks like we've only got Dawnna Dukes' substitute and then we'll find out what's in store with Hilderbran's artwork. TMF's final plan goes down 95-47.

    Rep. Dukes comes up with C166. It's another take that adds a new Hispanic district to Harris, a true new district to the Valley and something like the MALDEF Hispanic seat to DFW. Of some interest is the amount of Tarrant County in CD6 and a Gulf Coast District 34 that seems like it would be marginal-to-safe GOP. Farenthold's CD27 would lose some GOP turf in Nueces, so he'd be toast. Ted Poe would also be pushed quite a bit outside of Harris County. Interesting in the way it combines some of the known goals (the MALDEF DFW seat, for instance), with some new ideas. One item that comes to mind in looking at this effort is that I wonder why nobody seems to have gone after the three big West TX GOP districts. The plan goes down 93-45.

    Hilderbran's C161 is finally up. CDs 15, 20, and 28 are his biggest "concerns" since the SSVR don't seem strong enough. Given how the previous discussions have gone today, I can't imagine that Hilderbran has enough support to get his map approved. There's already a line of attack from a duo of rural Reps who express their dislike. Rep. Villarreal piggy-backs by pointing out that there is no whole district within Bexar County. I'll give Hilderbran this much ... it's an interesting map in that it's different than a lot of others. But it's also ugly as sin. It may make some amount of sense in that he's trying to head off some of the legal challenges he sees in store for the map currently on the floor. But I don't see how this creation avoids any challenges. C181 is offered as an amendment-to-the-amendment, that leaves the Hispanic numbers alone (in CD23) while improving the McCain numbers in the district (from 48% to 52%). TMF rises against. So if there's any support out there for Hilderbran's work, I'm curious to know where it comes from. Unless he withdraws it, we'll find out soon enough. Solomons up now, motioning to table. Hilderbran withdraws it before it reaches a vote. That concludes the amendments.

    We're now finally addressing the bill itself. Rep. Dukes is up first. Rep. Alonzo follows. Expect the map to go down along party lines, so the rest of the "again' its" are as follows: Veasey ... and that's about it. Solomons is up to close, and the line at the back mic regoups. TMF is up first. Senfronia and Veasey are right behind him. The perfunctory pre-legal arguments have been made.

    The bill moves on to third reading 93-48. I'm guessing the vote for that is tomorrow. Time for a late lunch now.


    Congressional Redistricting: House Hearing Live-Blog

    Things are now underway with the House side of the Congressional Redistricting side of things. A curious opening note is that Rep. Geren was brought in to explain that this hearing was being broadcast live despite it being a "formal hearing" and that this would not represent the fact that other "formal hearings" would be broadcast live.

    Three substitutes are going to be layed out. The initial layout is going to be the Veasey/Alonzo Plan C121 by Marc Veasey. You can go back to these links for the background on this plan. Veasey's layout today is very much the same as what he stated in his press conference. Veasey references this article on the reversal of migration of African-Americans to Chicago's inner city. Looks like a good read for later in the day.

    Jerry Madden lines up for the first crack at Veasey's map. He's a little miffed at Richardson being placed in a district that goes to Tarrant County. Veasey's contention is that it is still a suburban community of interest, while Madden is making more of the fact that it just goes into Tarrant County. The inclusion of Plano also seems to be a part of Madden's greivance.

    Mike Villarreal balances out some of Madden's opening fire by going over a few points of agreement. Villarreal notes the creation of the I35 district between Austin and San Antonio that corresponds to the one the Solomons/Seliger plan. The point being made is that such a district need not be used as a tool to end an incumbent's career.

    Roberto Alonzo and Carol Alvarado piggyback with some favorable comments and questions aimed at putting some basic info on the public record.

    Motion to adopt is made and Solomons adds some concluding remarks about the incumbent pairings in order to have an official point against on record. The motion, predictably, falls along party lines ... 5-12.

    Carol Alvarado now lays out Plan C126. This plan looks to resolve the main difference between MALDEF and Veasey, which is the inclusion of a second Hispanic district in Houston. Of some interest to me, CD9 included the MALDEF concept of sending the district out to Richmond. It also makes Gene Green my congressman. I've said it before, I'll say it again ... I like that second concept a lot.

    Harvey Hildebran takes on the plan first. His question is whether VRA requires the creation of new minority district. It's a pretty relevant point. Mike Villarreal brings up the Gingles test, to which Hildebran throws up a cloud of dust that "it's complicated" due to whether you use Total Pop vs Voting Age Pop; what role population diffusion plays; etc .... Larry Phillips piggybacks on Hildebran's point by asking for SSVR on both of the new Hispanic districts that Alvarado creates. Both are under 50% SSVR, which Alvarado defends on grounds that election data demonstrate that each would operate as Hispanic districts. Phillips' point is in his pivot of comparing those districts with the claims of retrogression in the committee chair's plan (which will be C144). With the exception of trying to avoid defending CD27's obvious retrogression, Phillips is obviously hoping to point out that CD23 is still over 50% SSVR. He's not gotten to that point, however. Jerry Madden also notes the same Plano-Richardson-Southlake district in Veasey's map that he doesn't like.

    Motion is made to adopt. Solomons concludes with a point that his concerns with the pairings in the plan. It goes down along party lines in any event - 5-11. Jimmie Don Aycock almost votes yes until he's woken up.

    Roberto Alonzo offers up his substitute (C142). It looks as if his DFW minority districts are much cleaner than the MALDEF version. The new Harris County district is pretty interesting. It doesn't break apart the East End/North Side combo that presently serves as the basis for CD29. The Travis County situation also looks cleaner, giving CD25 the bulk of the western side of the county, while a new district would be a much stronger Bexar-based district that doesn't go into Travis.

    The Harris County district is particularly weak - 51% VAP Hispanic and 23.4% SSVR. I'm going to have to request the election history for this plan just out of curiosity, but it would appear that this would be the means of recreating the old CD25 that covered much of the southern part of the county in order to create a coalition that elected the likes of Mike Andrews, Ken Bentsen, and Chris Bell.

    Motion to adopt fails along party lines - 5-12.

    Burt Solomons now lays out his C144 He says he tries to alleviate the fracturing of Hispanic population in Tarrant. He also says he deals with the dilution of SSVR in CD20. Those are big ones and it sounds as if Solomons tries to get SSVR dilution off the table for the purpose of inevitable lawsuits. The election math in CD20 will be something to look for since it was clearly a target in the earlier drafts. Marc Veasey has a brief moment of schadenfreude by pointing out that CD24 places Madden's preferred Richardson into Tarrant County. No word from Madden. Veasey also asks why his hometown area of Lake Como is included in CD26. Solomons offers up that it was "just how the numbers worked" ... which is bunk. It's clearly there to fracture as many minority areas as they think they can get away with in the Ft. Worth area. Solomons continually suggests he needed to make sure the deviations "worked out." The thing is that the deviation on most districts is absolutely zero. So there's clearly room to be under/overpopulated, even if only by some ridiculously small amount.

    Dan Branch leads off with supportive comments. Solomons follows by saying he thinks it's advantageous for urban areas to have more Congressmen rather than fewer. Mike Villarreal follows with some balance, suggesting that more opportunity districts were warranted. Jim Keffer offers his take that rural areas being split is good. I think we've identified the pro-gerrymander caucus now. Carol Alvarado echos Villarreal's point that more minority opportunity districts are warranted. Harvey Hildebran follows up with a question about differences between the initial Solomons/Seliger map and the Solomon's plan on the board now. Hildebran is also concerned about the improvements made in CD20. Your's to decide if that's a softball for Solomons to put some items on record as addressing minority concerns, or whether Hildebran is genuinely concerned with San Antonio-based minority districts.

    Joe Pickett notes a few oddly-configured districts. CD26 in Denton/Tarrant gets some mention. He asks if anyone has actually drawn a map without regard to special interests. That answer would be yes ... AJ Pate's C106 (and also Bill Owens' C110 and C111). He also asks if anyone has provided maps showing population concentrations. Ahem.

    The plan is voted on along party lines.

    Up next are some correcting amendments. Todd Hunter's C146 shifts Wharton and Colorado counties between districts and makes some population adjustments in Harris, it seems. Veasey notes the ordering of today's proposals. He asks if Hunter knew about C144 beforehand in order to correct it. It's an interesting attack since the committee just rejected a slew of plans preferred by minority members before the chair's substitute. Hunter's position is that the discussions to switch those two counties began before Solomons' substitute since the splits were being seen in the Senate map. The issue is whether minority members were allowed to consult on the plan as it was being developed, which will be a point for courts to consider. The defense in this case seems to be that if there was an amendment, it would have been treated similarly to Hunter's, yet the minority-preferred plans were full statewide substitutes. The timing of layouts in this committee hearing should be a good point for the courts to consider regarding the input toward creating minority districts. In any event, the amendment passes 13-4.

    Jerry Madden offers C147 as an amendment. It sounds like much of what this does is smooth out some precinct splits in Collin in order to minimize the number of voting precincts. Sounds good and I wish this was done more. As it is, I've got no shortage of examples of how Harris County will sprout new precincts after all the redistricting is done. Madden follows with a C148 that fixes some issues in C147 (your classic "amendment to the amendment"), no plan posted online yet for that. The motion for amending passes 13-4. The motion to pass the amended amendment passes 13-4.

    So the full version is essentially C144 with replacements from amendments C146 and C148. Motion is to assemble all of that into the committee substitute (approved 11-5). After some back & forth between Veasey & Solomons, the plan is approved 11-5. No surprises, but a good glimpse at what's in store for the legal challenges. If Solomons mentioned when the plan would be taken up on the floor, I missed it.

    That's all folks ....


    Defining Seliger-Solomons, Part One

    A few things about the map are becoming clearer with a little bit of analysis First things first, I don't think the map falls very cleanly into a definition of whether the new seats are 2R/2D or 3R/1D. It looks like there's some room for interpretation in the map.

    Case in point: the CD27/CD34 swap ... This may be similar to how the State House map recognized two "new" Hispanic districts that were already in existence, but the trick here is that CD27 goes from being a 59.4% SSVR district to one that is 37.3%. At the same time, the Hispanic Total Pop number for the new district is 49.5% compared to the prior 73.2%. I suppose that it could theoretically be argued that this was needed in order to build a new South Texas district that is 81.6% Hispanic and 69.6% SSVR. But what it fundamentally means is that while the map appears to be a 2R/2D map when it comes to the new district, this swap is essentially saying that CD27 is the new district while CD34 represents an improvement (or possibly a packing) and re-numbering of the existing CD27.

    The situation with Travis County belongs in the same consideration with this move, though I don't think the argument against the Travis County situation has problems with minority population. Doggett's CD25 is presently majority Anglo. I'm digging through my hard drive to see, but I would suspect that it was majority Anglo when it was created in its present form in 2006. Splitting it up isn't hard to do or justify. But considering that the map puts Doggett in a GOP-leaning district that I don't see him running in, the claim is that the "new" district is the Austin-to-San Antonio CD35, while the greater reality is that the new district is CD25. Taken together, that makes this, functionally, a map with four new GOP seats: CD25 (Austin/Copperas Cove/Cleburne); CD27 (Nueces/Victoria/Bastrop); CD33 (Parker Co./Wise Co./Southern FW/Arlington); CD36 (Beaumont/Lufkin/Memorial Park).

    Granted, there's a fine line between what is and isn't a "new" district. CD35 is very much a new construction that may simply just have an old Congressman elected from it. Likewise, CD14 is very new in many ways for Ron Paul and while CD6 may maintain much of it's Ellis County base, the population gains from the Grand Prairie/Irving area push the district's minority population to 50.1% of VAP (up from 35.2% in its current form). Each "new" in many regards. But I think the point here is for Seliger & Solomons to be able to look at everyone around them and say that they got everything they could ever want. To the far-right: it's really a 4R map. To DOJ: 2 new minority seats (CD34 & CD35). But at the end of the day, the likely pool of new Congressmen will be as follows:

    - St. Sen. Eddie Lucio regaining the loss of Solomon Ortiz. This is papered over by virtue of the fact that CD27 would have flipped back to D in 2012 no matter what and Blake Farenthold is sorta the new member of Congress. This probably depends on who you're having to explain it to.

    - St. Sen. Craig Estes (his district covers everything outside of Tarrant in the new CD33). One thing to consider is that Tarrant County is 80% of the district. The State Senate overlay obviously has Wendy Davis as the most prominent shared area. Maybe Kim Brimer makes a comeback here. The only major State Rep overlaps are Mark Shelton's SW Tarrant district and Diane Patrick's Arlington-based district. Neither of them is on the House Redistricting Committee and their districts are going to be dwarfed by the size of a Congressional. If there are any other ideas for new names for this district, I'm all ears.

    - St. Sen. Troy Fraser or St. Sen. Brian Birdwell (who each cover much of what's outside of Travis Co.)

    - Anyone's guess for the Houston-to-Beaumont-by-way-of-Lufkin district. In some wild theory, it would be a decent fit for Dan Patrick if he were to ever see himself as 1-of-435. I don't see him running for it. Allan Ritter could be a possibility since his House district was paired with Tuffy Hamilton. But The Jefferson/Orange wing of the district only accounts for a third of the district's population while Harris Co. counts for another third. I'd expect a dogfight, but it wouldn't shock me to see a sizable field with the likes of Ritter, Charles White, Dwayne Bohac, and/or Debbie Riddle running for it.

    Lucio, Estes, and Fraser are all on the Senate Redistricting Committee. I'd be shocked if they aren't gearing up for a run right now.


    Solomons-Seliger: Fracturing DFW

    A quick view here of the DFW fracturing going on in the Solomons-Seliger map. You can skim through the slideshow below or open it up in a full page view to get more of the details. The underlying map is the CVAP Majority map, which highlights which demographic group is a majority of Citizen Voting Age Population. Keep in mind that the full population color-coding would show an even greater expanse of geography represented by these populations. But the point here is to show how diffusion of minority population growth is not an excuse for avoiding the drawing of a district where there is a very real electoral opportunity for minority population electing candidates of their choice.

    The fact that Tarrant County and parts of Dallas County minority populations are split up and then connected to heavily-Anglo populations in five surrounding counties in order to prevent that from happening is easily the most egregious example of what this map does wrong.


    Solomons’ & Seliger’s Map (cont’d.)

    Let the head-spinning start early with this map. The biggest issue, as stated earlier is that DFW minorities would continue to be split up among multiple Anglo-dominated, GOP districts. That alone would lead to DOJ shipping the map back for repairs. I'll dive into the numbers later, but just based on geography, here are the details:

    New Districts

    CD33 - Parker County and Wise County are now the offset for both Fort Worth and Arlington-based minority communities.

    CD34 - The non-Nueces portion of CD27, combined with inland Coastal Bend counties. This allows Blake Farenthold to be shifted north, adding Victoria County and moving inland up to the Travis County line. For all that effort, Farenthold must still run for re-election in a district that went 59.1% for Obama, 54.9% for Bill White, and 51.2% for Linda Chavez-Thompson. I'm guessing that Farenthold is not feeling the love from his fellow partisans. (my bad ... too many numbers to review on the first day of the map. Farenthold's new CD27 was 57% McCain in 2008. The original numbers were for the new, open CD34.)

    CD35 - This is essentially a second effort to connect Travis County Hispanics to Bexar County Hispanics. It is also part one of how the map targets Doggett. Lloyd Doggett does not reside in this district, as drawn. Bexar County outweights Travis County in population 3:2. I'd suspect that Doggett could run and win in the district if no top-tier Bexar County candidate is eying it (not exactly a given). But it's intent is clearly to give Doggett as minimal of a chance as possible to be re-elected. Doggett does reside in CD25, still ... but that district snakes into his home precinct in order to connect it with the more GOP-friendly western side of Travis and counties to the north. CD25 went 56% for McCain and 55% for Rick Perry. It'll be interesting to watch if left intact. CD35 is about as Democratic as CD25 is GOP.

    CD36 - Beaumont, Lufkin, Crockett, Madisonville, Waller, Tomball, Spring Branch, and a portion of the Houston Heights. For all that creativity in defining a "community of interest" you'd think they could at least draw a district that got over 60% for GOP candidates. Instead, it's 58% McCain and 56% Perry. The fact that the map goes out of its way to carve up minority communities in both Harris and Jefferson Counties may get the attention of DOJ, also. Considering that MALDEF wants a second Hispanic district in Harris County, I'd be willing to bet that they jump all over this district as a violation.

    Aside from that, I'm still looking over some of the details. I do notice that Lamar Smith's CD21 looks relatively competitive for incumbent GOP districts (56.1-42.5 McCain) and that CD23 looks like it has enough electoral strength for Rep. Canseco to hang on (51.9-47.2 McCain). More as I get some homework completed. Demographics for the districts can be seen here.

    DFW (default) - Harris - Central TX
    (right click and open in a new tab for full-page view of each)

    Google Earth Files: DFW - Harris - Central TX - Statewide


    Congressional Redistricting: Solomon & Seliger’s Map

    Solomon-Seliger propose a map. If it goes through DOJ at all, it's a complete non-starter based on the treatment of the DFW region. Whether there's possibility of getting the map out of the Special Session starting today or whether it's just another plan to show a judge, we'll have to wait and see.

    Goog-ifying the map now. You know what to expect during the day.


    Same As the Old Boss …

    » FW Star-Telegram: New 'minority seats' often won by Anglo candidates, history shows

    Before too much time passes and this story isn't timely for the blog world, there's some good reporting here that gets into the weeds of how House Redistricting Chair Burt Solomons is rigging the maps ...

    In wake of the 2010 Census, MALDEF and other Hispanic political groups are pushing harder than ever for redistricting maps that will boost their clout. Hispanics accounted for almost two-thirds of the state's 4.3 million increase in population and make up 37 percent of the Texas population.

    In testimony to the Legislature this year, MALDEF said the percentage of Hispanic registered voters in District 90 and elsewhere should grow. While District 90 is already 70 percent Hispanic, only some Hispanics are eligible voters.

    Last month, House Republicans led by Rep. Burt Solomons of Carrollton repeatedly cited MALDEF's statements in saying a proposed redistricting map would create two Hispanic-opportunity districts in Tarrant County: District 90 and a district planned for southeast Arlington.

    Solomons focused on a measurement standard called Spanish surname voter registration. He said District 90 isn't Hispanic-opportunity because the district's SSVR is below 50 percent. House Democrats said District 90 has long functioned as Hispanic-opportunity with Burnam as representative.

    "That's your contention," Solomons said during the debate. "District 90 was not performing with the SSVRs. ... It was at 45 percent."

    Perales said the group is only trying to suggest that the Hispanic voice in districts like District 90 be strengthened.

    "We didn't claim that we were turning these districts into opportunity districts where they weren't previously opportunity districts," Perales said.

    Burnam said MALDEF made "a strategic mistake" by pushing for more Hispanic voters in districts such as his that already have strong Latino numbers. That could allow House Republicans to de-emphasize less diverse districts that are more in need of a boost in Hispanic voting strength, he said.

    The contention in both the State Rep and State Senate maps is going to basically come down to "where are the new Hispanic seats at?" Solomons answer seems to be that he's created something new by boosting the numbers in a district that's been controlled by minority voters for years and saying that just because it's over a new threshold, it should count as a new minority district. By that logic, Jessica Farrar will be the "new" Hispanic State Rep in Harris County. Something that strikes me as a surprise since she's already been that for years now.


    New Day, New State Rep Map for Harris County

    No sooner do I draft a post for tomorrow showing how the maps change from their existing shapes to something new with the plan passed last night ... only to discover that Harris County State Rep districts have changed yet again as the plan was passed on it's 3rd reading. Plan H283 is the version that passed today.

    I've only given it a cursory glance, but it looks like the biggest changes are within Harris County and what appears to be a very minor change in Montgomery County. Nothing jumps out at me as changing in Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, Travis, and South Texas. I've updated the Harris County map and the statewide Google Earth file in the post below. I'll followup with any other changes as I spot them.

    It could be that this is the follow-up of the big multi-hour confab over Harris County late last night. Not all the changes are bad - Pleasantville was removed from a Hispanic district and returned to an African-American district. That makes a world of sense. But one change jumps out for obvious - and not entirely positive reasons.

    The extension you see here is a pure add-on to HD131 (shaded blue). It breaks up a precinct to the point that it may force the one previous precinct to become parts of at least three separate precincts once the county gets around to that. I'm not sure what kind of conspiracy to think of here and I haven't been watching the proceedings of the House today in the event this was explained. But I sure hope someone gets an answer for this oddity.

    (click to enlarge)


    Plan H276 From Austin

    Here's all the cartographic goodness you should need for the day. The full statewide Google Earth file is also available if you're that deep into this sorta thing. If you're a simpler PDF kinda person, there's this for ya.

    Map: Harris (default) - Dallas - Tarrant - Bexar - Travis & surrounding - El Paso - Nueces - South Texas - SE Texas - Fort Bend - N. Houston Suburbs - N. Dallas Suburbs
    (right click and open in a new tab for full-page view of each)

    Google Earth Files: Full State - Harris - Dallas - Tarrant - Bexar - Travis & surrounding - El Paso - Nueces - South Texas - SE Texas - Fort Bend - N. Houston Suburbs - N. Dallas Suburbs


    House Redistricting: The Liveblog

    It's an 11am kickoff. There's still some formalities and points of order to get through, but we're approaching gametime.

    11:10 ... Burt Solomons is starting his pitch. Here are the pairings in Plan H153:

    District 2 - Cain, Flynn
    District 21 - Hamilton, Ritter
    District 34 - Scott, Torres
    District 68 - Chisum, Hardcastle
    District 83 - Landtroop, Perry
    District 105 - Anderson, Harper-Brown
    District 113 - Burkett, Driver
    District 137 - Hochberg, Vo

    Rep. Mando Martinez raises a point of order against the redistricting debate continuing. There's an extended "at ease" while they sort that matter out. But in the interim, here's a good math fix on how the Solomons map changed each district in terms of GOP v Dem shares. I can't help but notice that HD134 did not move much. That's a key target for 2012 unless it changes.

    11:55 ... still awaiting resolution of Martinez's point of order. So another interim filler: Charlie Howard's HD26. Again - blue is the existing district, red outline is the Plan H153 version ...

    View House Redistricting: HD26 in a larger map

    The worst aspect of this map isn't just that it connects so many disparate neighborhoods in a funny-looking way. It's that it slices through the Asian community in Fort Bend, taking the existing >30% Asian population in the existing plan to 27.5% with this boundary. And none of the other districts make up for that drop, so it's a straightforward fracturing.

    Here's the math of how Fort Bend County is divided by district. I did this based on the H113 plan, but it looks as though the boundaries are identical in H153.

    PlanH113  2011         
                        A%    B%    H%   B+H%   O%
    DISTRICT 26 (27%)  44.3  12.2  16.4  28.2  27.5
    DISTRICT 27 (27%)  21.0  43.8  21.7  64.6  14.4
    DISTRICT 28 (27%)  46.6  15.0  22.0  36.4  17.0
    DISTRICT 85 (18%)  31.0  16.3  40.6  56.1  12.9
    PlanH100     2001
                        A%    B%    H%   B+H%   O%
    DISTRICT 26 (31%)  39.4  12.8  14.7  27.1  33.6
    DISTRICT 27 (39%)  25.1  35.2  31.7  65.9   8.9
    DISTRICT 28 (31%)  46.8  15.8  22.9  38.1  15.1

    Oh,and District 85 connects part of Missouri City with Jackson County. So not all is well in suburbia.

    12:24 ... Martinez's point of order is over-ruled. Solomons is back up, but now it's Rep. Harold Dutton's the one needling him. Looks like another point of order in the making.

    12:42 ... no p.o.o. from Dutton. Just a lot of back & forth over prison population. No movement made to tweak the population counts from the Census to account for prisoners to be counted where they resided prior to incarceration. Sounds like this woulda given Harris County 25 districts if counted that way.

    Trey Martinez-Fischer up now with some parliamentary inquiries. Another point of order. Another delay.

    So, with that, here's another time killer. This shows the Houston Heights area with the districts that slice and dice it in the H153 plan. And as Yvonne notes in the comments, it also splits up Montrose.

    View House Redistricting: Heights Crackup in a larger map

    1:10 ... they're still mulling the TMF p.o.o. ... meanwhile, MALDEF responds to claims that the plan under consideration is not retrogressive. Barring a bailout, it seems like that determination is going to be up to the Obama DOJ and I'd suspect that MALDEF may have a very persuasive argument for them to consider.

    1:14 ... TMF's p.o.o. is overturned. Yeah, so now you know why I use periods. Rep. Jessica Farrar up now with Solomons, asking where all the new Hispanic districts are since that's what drove the overall population growth in the state. Interestingly, Solomons references the use of SSVR in the establishment of Hispanic opportunity districts. He's saying they didn't create new districts, but they tried to beef up the existing districts. Does this sound incredibly familiar to anyone but me?

    Farrar's main point is that her district should not be counted as a "new" Hispanic district since it is already a functioning Hispanic district. This is somewhat similar to what defines an African-American district under the same logic - not many of them have over 50% African-American population. The general guideline for A-A districts is 40% and it's very arguable that some could be just as reliable with as little as 35% A-A population. The district proposed for Garnet Coleman, for instance is 39.3% A-A. Dawna Dukes' district is 22.3%. Ruth Jones-McClendon's Bexar County district is 27.8%. In the case of these districts, it's due to them containing a large share of "phanton" Hispanic residents, so the overall minority numbers are high, but primaries are controlled by A-A voters.

    1:30ish ... still some back & forth about the procedural aspects of putting the map together and how some VRA items are accounted for. Rep. Sylvester Turner follows Farrar on similar grounds to hers, but with regard to African-American districts. Rep. Marc Veasey checks in with some changes on two minority districts in Tarrant and whether HD101 also warrants being considered a "new" minority coalition district.

    2:00ish ... Rep. Armando Walle up with questions about Harris County. Solomons defends giving Harris County only 24 districts by pointing out that the Democratic members of the caucus voted to give the county 24 seats last decade. It was the LRB that awarded 25 seats. With regard to the pairing of Hochberg & Vo, he notes that there is "some discussion" about whether HD149 is a protected district (yet, he concludes "no"). Solomons ekes out some specious reasoning on how the map under consideration merely "follows the law" rather than carries out some other design. I don't think anyone outside of the capitol accepts that.

    Rep. Scott Hochberg up now with the history of how Harris County has generally been granted a "rounding up" of seats. He hits some of the highlights of his testimony (where Solomons was not present). Solomons has been saying that he "had" to round down. He's changing his story now to that it simply being "better practice" to round down. Solomons points out that Hochberg voted for 24 last time. Hochberg's response is that there was no argument made that Harris County "had" to be 24 back then.

    2:30 ... We're finally down to the amendments. Bexar County is first (H160). Rep. Menendez wants a minor tweak involving no population. Approved. H182 is up by Rep. Farias. Adds some partial precincts from HD117 (Garza) that Farias presently represents. Garza doesn't oppose the change. Rep. Aaron Pena asks whether the amendment was an "agreed to" amendment and whether the changes were presented to the committee. Pena says there's a "quandry" about whether or not members can support the amendment. Rep. Aliseda notes that the change would remove GOP votes from Garza. This is the first time we're getting into a discussion of partisanship within the map. Solomons hits the mic with some negativity, so it's not looking good for Farias. Solomons' motion to table comes up for a vote. Motion to table prevails. That's it for Bexar.

    Sidenote: A reason to love Marc Veasey - upon hearing a satisfactory answer on his parliamentary inquiry, his response is "Sweet!" The man is a million times cooler than I could ever hope to be.

    Dallas County up next. Plans H188, H213, H211, and H210 have been withdrawn. Rep. Anderson is up first with Plan H220 (which is amended with an amendment H247). Looking at Anderson's map, it's pretty radical in its differences from the Solomons map. Rep. Jackson of Dallas County announces his opposition to the amendment ... that should be enough to tank it. Rep. Hartnett also states his opposition. Here's a quickie version of Anderson's map. Rep. Harper-Brown states her opposition. So far, not a lot of love for the map out of Dallas County. Rep. Alonzo says he's against because the SSVR numbers go below 50%. Rep. Branch says he's against. Not sure anyone out of Dallas really likes Anderson's map. Guess who's not likely to survive his pairing? Solomons makes a motion to table. The amendment tanks: 119-21-3.

    Sidenote: That was merely amendment #4. There are 71 amendments total and I am working on a negligible breakfast and no lunch. Ugh.

    Harper-Brown is next up with H219. Her's is a limited Dallas County re-draw. She says that Rep. Jackson also supports the plan. So that's one more person than supported the entire Anderson map. Anderson returns fire on Harper-Brown by asking how cut up Grand Prairie is (the Dallas County part, at least). She says three districts, Anderson points out that it's five cuts. Given the way GP sits on four different counties, there would be 7 people representing Grand Prairie if this amendment were to go through. If there's one good argument against the County Line rule, Grand Prairie is it.

    4:15ish ... {late lunch break}

    I'm catching up to some of the debate over Dallas districts. It seems as if Rep. Barbara Mallory-Caraway is upset at seeing her district (HD110) go from a majorityplurality Afr.-Am. district to one that is 39.6% Afr.-Am. and 50.7% Hispanic. There's an arcana about those numbers that warrants the debate that's going on. But in terms of sheer electoral viability - in the near term - for any Afr-Am candidate, it's not an issue. Whether it risks becoming more of a CVAP plurality for Hispanics over the next decade, however, could be an issue in the long term. It's worth noting that the SSVR numbers in the district are under 17%. So I'd be very shocked if this were a Hispanic opportunity over the next decade.

    Looking over the data for the present plan and the LHB amendment, here's what happens:

    110  - Current  District
            Anglo  Black Hisp  B+H  Other         SSVR   SSVR
    Total:   13.0  39.4  47.5  86.2  0.8    2010  14.9   15.6
    VAP:     15.8  42.2  41.7  83.3  0.9    2008  14.2   14.7
    110  - Linda Harper-Brown Amendment
            Anglo  Black Hisp  B+H  Other         SSVR   SSVR
    Total:    9.7  39.6  50.7  89.5  0.8    2010  16.9   17.6
    VAP:     12.3  42.2  45.1  86.8  0.9    2008  16.3   16.8

    Alas, the LHB amendment is tabled.


    I'm back now as Rep. Armando Walle brings up an amendment to fix some of the retrogression in Fort Bend County. H172 is the plan. Rep. Charlie Howard (white guy) is speaking out against it. Says Asian-Americans are already "represented" because they have two of 'em on Sugar Land City Council. Rep. Zerwas ('nuther white guy) also speaks out against it, saying that Solomons' plan allows for Asians to get elected. Howard gets back to the mic and drops a couple of "those people" references. The amendment goes down 99-38. Good job by Rep. Walle, with Rep. Farrar in a supporting role. The Asian population in Fort Bend isn't a VRA protected population (at least not Section 5 - there are some Section 2 protections), but the discussion on this amendment is as clear an indicator of why - in at least a general sense - the Voting Rights Act is in place to protect minorities.

    Sidenote: It looks like there's an upcoming amendment to fix the "split apartment complex" between HD137 and HD134. Correction ... a couple of possible fixes.

    Aaron Pena is getting a grilling on a variety of subjects. For starters, he's apparently the only member of a redistricting committee majority that has not had input on the drawing of his own districts. Yet, magically, the Solomons map had some verrry creative cartography in order to get his home in there. And speaking of Aaron's home ... there's this.

    The amendment-fest is still tossing around some South Texas plans. But I'm heading out of the office because that just seems like the thing to do around 8pm. Here's the running log of amendments if you're interested.

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