Exhausting Almanac Update

All 150 of the State Rep districts in the court-ordered Plan H302 are now updated on the Almanac. Lots of swing districts to check out in there, so I’m hoping to do a review of some of them before the weekend ends. Each page is populated with a district map, demographics (including CVAP), and 2008 & 2010 election data. Some of the districts are more of a challenge to get good context from those two elections, so I’ll add some 2004 and/or 2006 election data to help that along.

Congressional pages will follow during the UH-Tulsa football game, which kicks off at 11am today. Fortunately, the high school team doesn’t kick off till noon tomorrow. So the heart attacks and fingernail chewing should be at least somewhat spread out over the weekend.

Lege Council Serves Up Data for the Holidays

What politigeeks read over the holidays…

Texas Legislative Council: Court-Ordered and Proposed Districts for 2012 Elections.

I have some vague memories of what Thanksgiving used to be like. But, for now, football is background noise to updating the Almanac. Demographics, 2008 elections, and 2010 elections are now in place for all districts. Maps about to follow. And that’s just for the State House map. State Senate and the proposed Congressional map will follow. No rest for the weary, but at least I get a high school football break right before Christmas.

Plan C220: The Houston Area

Here’s what the Houston-area congressional districts look like:

(full pagePlan C220 Google Earth file)

No second Hispanic district in there. So it’ll be interesting to see what the LULACs and MALDEFs of the world do with this. Some of the districts on the periphery look like they might be rather competitive. The CD14 composition doesn’t change any from this analysis. And CD10 looks like it got a little bit more competitive than it was before. And CD7 starts the decade a bit more competitive than it ended the previous decade. I wouldn’t expect to see all three of those districts electing Republicans by the end of the decade.

I’ll be updating the Almanac with the full election math starting tonight. But here’s what the rest of them look like for Obama & Bill White math.

        McCain         Obama
2   157,174 64.9%   83,243 34.4%
7   147,992 56.6%  111,196 42.5%
8   174,654 73.5%   60,866 25.6%
9    38,001 22.2%  132,168 77.3%

10  142,003 51.9%  127,129 46.5%
14  139,899 57.3%  102,209 41.9%
18   42,095 22.0%  147,832 77.4%
22  141,739 58.6%   98,293 40.6%

29   41,881 37.2%   69,824 62.0%
34  162,077 66.1%   80,665 32.9%
36  160,901 67.8%   73,856 31.1%

       Perry          White
2   107,101 63.3%  59,046 34.9%
7    99,934 54.4%  80,938 44.0%
8   122,481 70.8%  46,474 26.8%
9    21,692 21.1%  80,065 77.7%
10   93,239 53.8%  73,775 42.6%
14   92,365 56.1%  68,641 41.7%
18   26,575 21.9%  93,012 76.8%
22   97,988 58.3%  67,327 40.1%
29   22,505 32.1%  46,566 66.3%
34  109,307 63.0%  59,510 34.3%
36  102,697 63.7%  54,876 34.1%

A Passing Redistricting Two-fer

Lest I be accused of falling asleep on the job – or, more appropriately, of doing a job instead of blogging on all the cool, fancy redistricting news that’s out there – here’s a couple of links to note from Kuff over the past few days:

1. Harris County redistricting … finally. Looks like the biggest hangup of them all was fitting things into the tight Gene Locke/Richard Murray schedule for redistricting. HISD was quick work, HCC was a bit involved. I’m curious to see how this round compares for them. I’ll be shocked if it’s not interesting.

2. Election Math on the Congressional Map. The two big targets for Dems are obviously CD23 and CD14 (depending on whether the pre-2010 world that that district existed in is ever re-creatable). On the flipside, I’d watch for CD15 and CD20 should they ever become open seats or if someone gets caught direct-messaging photos of their crotch.

And with that … back to work.

Congressional Redistricting: Third Reading in the House

I’m belatedly getting into the floor discussion on the third reading for the Congressional redistricting map. The first item that I land on involves an effort to add the General Motors plant to Joe Barton’s district. It’s on par with the debate yesterday to add a future ExxonMobil headquarters to Ted Poe’s district. In this case, it puts Redistricting chair Burt Solomons against some in his own party who are trying to carry a little water for their friendly/hometown members of Congress. In fact, Solomons unloads a bit of criticism on Barton for trying to work outside of the process that’s been going on (a likely reference to the Jodie Laubenberg map released during the regular session). In this case, the amendment is put forth by Rep. Zedler and goes to a final vote, going down 115-21.

As is common for third reading, amendments are harder to pass, so Solomons calls for a final vote. And with that, the map passes 93-47. On to the Governor’s desk … and then the courts.

Congressional Redistricting: LULAC’s Lawsuit

» KSAT: LULAC Files Redistricting Lawsuit

There are lawsuits aplenty that have already been filed, but I’d rank LULAC’s as likeliest to make it’s way further down the process than others. Here’s the nub of their argument …

LULAC filed its legal challenge in the U.S. District Court’s Western District of Texas. The suit alleges the state is trying to take away votes from Latinos.

Vera said the first issue they have is with the 2010 U.S. Census. According to Vera, the census did not provide an accurate count of Latinos in Texas. Vera argued if the count was accurate, Texas would have gained a fifth Congressional district, so the lawsuit seeks to have those numbers thrown out and an accurate count provided.

The second part of the suit alleges violations of the Voting Rights Act, specifically that Texas Republicans drawing the new maps are packing Latino voters into districts in disproportionate numbers.

LULAC also argued that as it stands now, the redistricting takes away one Latino opportunity district without replacing it with another one.

I’m not a lawyer, nor am I going to pretend to be one on a blog or television. But I don’t seem to recall “bad census numbers” ever being a very successful grounds for lawsuits such as this. But the second leg of their suit should have better grounds. To the extent that I’m willing to game this out, I’d suspect that DOJ takes the most offense with the treatment of DFW minorities and the courts take the most issue with things like the CD27/CD34 swap. Depending on how CD23 measures out in terms of retrogression, I can see that one being an issue in either setting.

The reason I’d argue LULAC lawsuits are generally stronger is that they aren’t as tainted by incumbent members of Congress who try to throw in partisan aspects of redistricting, which generally don’t hold up in court. I’d have to review how the DFW situation of 2003 held up in court last time around. At that time, it had the double benefit of being a strong community of interest argument that went hand-in-hand with an incumbent’s argument (in this case, Martin Frost). Obviously, the fracturing held up in the courthouse round at that time despite the fact that the career attorneys in DOJ found the fracturing to be out of VRA compliance. All that to say that if there’s any lawsuit that expends a great deal of time trying to argue over the division of Travis County in the latest Congressional plan, I don’t see it winning. It may be ugly, it may be blatantly partisan, it may be unfair as all get-out. But it’s legal.

Likewise, coalition districts will be harder to defend than true, 50%-plus single-minority districts. And coalition districts that rely on Anglo voters (like Doggett’s) with an overall majority Anglo population would seem to me to be out of the question unless there’s an incredibly favorable selection of judges in multiple rounds of appeals.

So keep an eye on LULAC’s lawsuit as it may be one of the strongest challenges in the courts to the present map.

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.

    Lost Friday Aggresposting

    Full couple of days ahead with day job stuff. But a few quick links for recommended reading …

    » Off the Kuff: House Redistricting committee approves modified Congressional map … numbers and electoral possibilities abound. I should get around to mapping, number-crunching, and more by Sunday. Hope that’s before the House takes it up on the floor. The Trib also has a few extra insights from behind the scenes. It looks like the thinking behind the CD20 fix, from Dems, was that it was really aimed at weakening CD23.

    » Chron: HISD can improve performance by realigning priorities (Mary Nesbitt, Ed Klein, Lillian Villarreal, Sue Dimenn Deigaard, Andy Chan, Jay Aiyer) … the lede:

    The Houston Independent School District is at a crossroads in its direction and vision for the future. The most recent Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) testing data shows that overall student performance is stagnant at most HISD schools, has declined at others and has improved at a few. Fewer HISD schools will be designated as “exemplary” or “recognized,” while at least nine more schools are now deemed academically unacceptable.

    And speaking of HISD, they wrapped up their public hearings last night. I didn’t make it, but I’m told that it concluded after about 30 minutes. That’s pretty speedy work.

    HCC’s board meeting on Thursday looks to be the next step for that round of redistricting and it truly is one of the more intriguing redistricting efforts in town. I’ll have a recap of the Wednesday night hearing, which included Sen. Mario Gallegos calling for a new Hispanic district in HCC. But that’ll have to wait till time frees up on Sunday.

    Lastly, the Empty Lot Primary has the following early numbers for candidates who’s signs have been spotted and sent in ….

    Brian Cweren .. 19
    Eric Dick ..... 14
    Jenifer Pool ..  6
    Marc Campos ...  1

    I’m told that I can expect some new candidates showing up on the list next week. Keep it clean, y’all.

    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 ….

    Congressional Redistricting: Plan C136 Clears Commitee

    » Statesman: Senate panel signs off on 5-Travis County district congressional map

    Before I officially lapse into “overlooking” status on this bit of news …

    A plan to divide Travis County into five congressional districts took its first significant step Friday toward becoming law.

    The Senate Redistricting Committee approved the proposal on an 8-4 vote along party lines, sending it on to the full Republican-dominated Senate for action as soon as Monday. The vote came after hours of testimony from several dozen members of the public, including numerous Austin residents who urged senators not to slice up the city.

    The actual vote was 9-6 after the no-shows registered their votes. The only interesting thing to come out of this is that it seems as if Dan Patrick is either over the fact that Western Harris County does not have a new district or has perhaps been promised a fix elsewhere in the process. Given that a fix would involve a substantial re-drawing, I have a hard time seeing that happening.

    The finished product is now officially Plan C136. Monday seems to be the target date for getting it passed by the Senate. I’ll get back to some mapping once we have an idea of what the House plans to do with the map.

    Since I’d expect this map to fail at the DOJ level, here’s a relevant read from the Washington Post on how some of the early states are juggling pre-clearance.

    In a racially mixed corner of Shreveport, La., a small group of white voters protested loudly this year that they did not want to be part of a majority black district when the legislature redrew the state’s political boundaries. The Republican-led statehouse complied, drawing a line around the community to accommodate them.

    That line is at the heart of a case before the Justice Department that is seen as a critical test of how the Obama administration will interpret the controversial Voting Rights Act as it rules on a new wave of redistricting plans.

    It seems as if there may be some hesitance by the DOJ to push back on the Voter ID laws moving through the states (Texas among them). That’s not terribly surprising. The biggest amount of scrutiny will likely involve Congressional maps, and that should have the Texas map somewhere on the watch list for plans that get rejected. What it means if a court and DOJ disagree, I’m not sure. And whether Texas plans to be among the states to go the court-only route, we’ve not heard a definitive word that I’m aware of. Certainly, the early rumor rounds would suggest as much, but the fact that Virginia is going through both the courts and DOJ may be an indicator of how other states may proceed.

    Kuff has more on the Senate committee approval. The only remainder point I’d add to it all is that the timeline for Friday and for the process as a whole is worth remembering when the tables are turned. When the early portion of public testimony ended on Friday, Sen. Seliger noted that the committee members would discuss on the floor of the Senate about the remaining timeline, amendments, and so on. Apparently, it was decided that the committee would reconvene after floor votes on Friday night to vote the plan out. That has the effect of limiting amendments, stifling input, and ramrodding your own plan through the process. Just in case anyone’s of the opinion that the process for this map is any less disingenuous than what was done for the DeLay round of re-redistricting. They at least did public field hearings around the state for that plan. All that to say that elections have consequences and that elections in years ending in zero have a little bit more.

    Senate Redistricting Hearing: Congressional Style

    I missed the first few hours of the House hearing yesterday and still haven’t had a chance to review the opening moments. Today is a day of better luck since I’m plopped down at ye olde workstation in a more timely manner. Sen. Kel Seliger is opening up by laying out his revised map, Plan C125. Things are underway, so I’ll be adding as highlights present themselves.

    Four new districts laid out by Seliger. He says the new districts track with population growth in the state:

    CD33 …. Arlington-to-Parker Co. Not a lot of mention about why Parker County represents a major corridor of population growth in Texas.
    CD34 … South Texas
    CD35 … I35 corridor. A new latino opportunity district. The concept, they claim, comes from MALDEF’s Plan 122. Of course, that doesn’t mention what they’ve done to CD20 as the tradeoff for a new creation.
    CD36 … If Seliger mentioned this, I missed it. But it’s obviously it doesn’t track in any way shape or form with population growth. Channelview and Colmsneil are not exactly what you would consider “fast growth” areas of the state.

    Sen. Royce West starts off with an opening grilling of Sen. Seliger about consulting with members of Congress, minority members of the State Senate or any other advocacy groups. West then takes that groundwork to ask what was taken into account to create the current plan. It’s a pretty good line of questioning from West, but Seliger looks well aware of the fact that all he has to do is wait it out. West also asks whether Seliger took population away from existing minority districts. Seliger says he’s “not advised” but that they did check with legal about any changes not being retrogressive. Wonder if CD20 will come into the conversation anywhere. West’s point seems to be more about Eddie Bernice Johnson’s CD30, which has an African-American VAP share of 35.6%.

    Sen. Chuy Hinojosa asks whether the committee plans to vote out the map today, to which Seliger says that he does intend to do so if a quorum is present after public testimony. There’s a concern over the CD27/CD34 swap and how amendments will be dealt with.

    Sen. Eddie Lucio notes that CD34 is a replacement for the existing CD27. Expect to hear a lot about this. Fairly important point since it’s coming from someone who would conceivably be a strong candidate for the new CD34. Seliger notes that you can view CD27 as a new district if you want (he doesn’t, but …).

    Sen. Judith Zaffirini notes that this is the least amount of input she’s ever had on any redistricting process. It’s a point aimed at VRA attorneys more than Seliger. She also asks who it was that actually drew the map on the actual computer. It’s not the old bald guy … it’s the committee attorneys. I’m not familiar with how this point plays with the legal side of redistricting arguments. But it definitely seems to be in line with her first point – more aimed at lawyers who will be reviewing rather than the committee chair himself. Her primary interest seems to be CD23 and asks about SSVR. It’s over 50% in both Plans 125 and 130 and the non-suspense counts are higher than the overall list.

    Sen. Dan Patrick doesn’t seem terribly happy that West Harris County is not part of a new district, though he’s happy to not see the horseshoe CD36. It’s pretty interesting since it would require a major re-work in order to fit something in there for a new district without going back to the horseshoe in Plan 125. Considering the population growth in that area, it could be something to watch.

    Sen. Carlos Uresti asks about the amendment process. Apparently, the staff sent out a suggested deadline of 10am today, but that wasn’t a done deal. Sen. Uresti, it should be noted, raised the question at 9:52am. The deadline may still be an open question, but I think you get a sense of the gameplan that the GOP is operating under with the mere suggestion of such a quick deadline.

    Sen. Zaffirini asks about the status of both Plans 125 and 130. Plan 125 is presently the map under cosideration. But Seliger openly suggests that 130 could be substituted at some point (floor or committee, we don’t know). So there’s an open question about how amendments will be dealt with if 130 is substituted while amendments have to be drawn for 125. See the above point on the GOP gameplan for this process. This is definitely of a similar piece.

    Sen. Mario Gallegos says the map is “full of the Christmas turkey.” First point is the splitting of Nueces County Hispanics from an opportunity district. Making a lot of comparisons to LULAC v Perry. Harris County is another obvious concern. He makes a statewide comparison – that Texas Hispanics equals the population of Michigan, which has 14 districts compared to the six Hispanic districts in Texas. If that wasn’t a colorful enough point, he offers up the “30% b*tch” quote about Hispanic population being carved up and shared in order to dilute Hispanic vote. Look for some quotes to make the media rounds from his presentation.

    Public testimony is now underway. Sen. Kirk Watson essentially addressed all of the Travis County talking points. I’m not going to get into the play-by-play for this portion of the hearing, but expect some of the stronger and/or most interesting points to warrant a mention.

    * Rep. Jose Menendez makes the point about CD20 retrogression. Among the points is that Congressman Gonzalez’s district office would now be in CD35. In and of itself, it’s a fairly minor example, but demonstrative of the extent to which the district has undergone substantial change in order to ostensibly carve up Bexar County’s Hispanic community into three different districts.

    * Nina Perales of MALDEF is up, saying that C130 is not a fair plan since it does not create two new Latino majority districts. She’s not buying the CD35 creation since it diminishes the opportunity in CD23 and CD20. Also says that you can avoid the retrogression of those districts while still creating a new opportunity district in CD35. She picks up on the CD27/CD34 swap by saying that 200k Latinos are stranded by the way CD27 is reconfigured.


    Just to put a bowtie on the post to wrap things up, I didn’t see anything at the end of the hearing about amendments or the plans on voting a map out of committee. The Senate is back in session to vote out a few items and reviewing the end of the hearing, it seems as if there’s no more public testimony.

    One point to highlight for emphasis for what was covered in the hearing was that the committee attorneys were put on the witness stand and there were some good exchanges that I wish I could recap. But in any event, the exchanges were more for the matter of putting comments on record for the lawsuit round of all of this. I just found it interesting, in and of itself, that the legal staff was on public display. What I did catch of the testimony wasn’t anything that jumped out in terms a gotchya type of moment with regard to any of the problematic districts – they’re lawyers, so they know as well as anyone else how to properly couch a comment safely. But it should all serve as supporting references for when the judges get their hands on the map.

    There was also plenty of other good testimony from the likes of AJ Pate, Bill Owens, Rey Guerra and a variety of others. Lots of Austin folks wondering why they’re the largest city without a fully contained district. For comic value, there was an African-American Tea Partier from Houston, Earl Johnson, that got into a testy exchange with Sen. Lucio after suggesting that we no longer use the word “minority.” It got real interesting when Senator Lucio asked if splitting up Travis County denied a community of interest from voting for a candidate who shared their values. Johnson took issue with the words “community” of “values”, suggesting that they might not be “honest” words. Sen. Lucio got a little bothered by Johnson’s comment that instead of “community” and “values,” we need to be “1. American” and “2. Texan.” Sen. Lucio then introduced a bit of his own family history with regard to patriotic service to this country. The following intemperate comments followed from Mr. Johnson toward Sen. Lucio …

    I have to choose my words, because I could really deal with you …. Don’t lecture me about racial issues …. Evidently there was some sensitivity there that you can’t handle.

    Sens. Eltife, Patrick and Huffman went out of their way to thank Mr. Johnson. Just in case there was any question about which color the jerseys were on the committee.

    Also, some followup on Plan C130 …

    » TX Tribune: Updated: Ron Paul Says Map Changes Don’t Bother Him
    I’m looking over CD14 in the Plan C130 and may want to walk back some of my dismissal of it as being politically competitive. It looks like a pretty major swap of GOP turf for Dem turf in a district that was 61-36 Perry in 2010 and 57-40 Wainwright in 2008. If the change is substantial enough, that might be enough change in the district to make it more interesting. I’ve got my request in for election math on the plan and as soon as I know something, I’ll pass it on.

    UPDATE: Like clockwork, the Lege Council staff sends me the election math on Plan C130. Here’s how CD14 looks …

    ============ 2008 ===========
    US President
    McCain ...... 140,543 (57.2%)
    Obama ....... 103,112 (42.0%)
    US Senate
    Cornyn ...... 130,873 (54.6%)
    Noriega ..... 103,825 (43.3%)
    Wainwright .. 116,707 (49.9%)
    Houston ..... 110,636 (47.3%)
    Price ....... 118,482 (51.0%)
    Strawn ...... 107,923 (46.5%)
    ============ 2010 ===========
    Perry .......  92,950 (56.1%)
    White .......  69,305 (41.8%)
    Lt Governor
    Dewhurst .... 102,637 (62.5%)
    Chav-Thmpsn .  57,054 (34.7%)
    Attorney General
    Abbott ...... 105,876 (64.5%)
    Radnofsky ...  55,104 (33.6%)
    Land Commish
    Patterson ... 103,274 (63.4%)
    Uribe .......  55,395 (34.0%)