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Primary Mapping: GOP County Attorney

Long time no blog. I've pretty much got the remainder of primary contests mapped out that I'm interested in seeing. But I do need to relocate a moment of free time to get everything uploaded and web-ready. Some of the larger fields of candidates made for some interesting research and I'm not sure they tell an easy story in one map. So those will probably get a side-by-side treatment. And by the time I'm done with all of that, I'll be able to go through the runoff elections. I don't know what your hobbies are, but surely they can't be this much fun. Right?

Anyway, the reason I wanted to post this one from the last batch of primaries was simply because I found it to be the most interesting of all the GOP Primary maps. The final results of this contest weren't really all that close:

Robert Talton: 64.6%
Leslie Johnson: 35.4%

What the map below demonstrates, to me, is that Talton essentially ran the table outside of the River Oaks-Memorial region. Or, as I'll call it, "Establishment Row" for GOP voters. You'd expect to see Talton do well in the southeastern area of the county since his old State Rep district covered Pasadena and surrounding areas. Johnson, as far as I can tell, seemed to have evident support inside the Loop. I don't know enough about how this campaign played out to suggest that it was a true case of Insider vs Outsider or Establishment vs Tea Party style choice. Talton certainly has his social conservativism ducks in a row, but he's also been thought of as a bit too friendly to trial attorneys for most GOP tastes.

Whatever the case may be, the contours definitely show up for something vaguely resembling the social vs business conservative breakdown. It'll be interesting to see how closely this map resembles the runoff map for the US Senate seat. Till that gets posted, feel free to click, poke, and explore. Oh, and download if you're into that sorta thing.

ADD-ON: Also, I tweaked the color-coding to make the different reds a bit easier to sort out visually. In this case, the dark red is Talton, the light red is Johnson, and white means there were no votes cast.

ADD-ON 2.0: Grrr. One point of clarification that eluded me while posting this: the map indicates where Talton won over 60% of the vote, not simply where he won. A won/loss map was more of a wipeout for Talton. So the outline here for "establishment" support for Johnson should be viewed relative to areas where she performed under 40%. In short: the outline is still interesting. But the nature of the contest was certainly a lot more muted in terms of how much of any "establishment" vs "non-establishment" differences existed between candidates. This is what I get for leaving maps on Google Earth for several days without blogging about them.

full page - Google Earth


The Last Time Twenty Four was Twenty Five

For your consideration, the last time Harris County was being debated over for 24 vs 25 State Rep seats. Of particular interest, check the arguments that then-State Rep. Robert Talton uses to defend not just the case for 25 seats, but also the case for partisan representation (the county is no longer monolithically GOP at the county level), and the assumption that certain representatives - while having a constituency in southeast Harris County - aren't considered representative of the area. These are all arguments that you make when the facts fit, not as a matter of ideology. Many of them may be heard by some who stood to benefit from the debate in 2001, yet may no longer benefit under the same logic.

This is from Day 68 of the 77th session ...


CHAIR: Mr. Talton.

TALTON: Will the gentleman yield?


CHAIR: Gentleman yields, Mr. Talton.

TALTON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Chairman Jones, I have a few questions I'd like to discuss with you regarding Harris County. As you know, Harris County, I believe, under your plan has gone from 25 to 24, is that correct?

D. JONES: That's correct.

TALTON: And you've also said in your opening statements that it was to look at the communities of interest and try to represent the people of Texas and the people in those communities, is that correct?

D. JONES: That's correct.

TALTON: And do you remember having a breakfast with the mayor of Pasadena and others regarding the city of Pasadena?

D. JONES: I recall that breakfast.

TALTON: And you, you are aware that Pasadena is the second-largest city in Harris county at 140,000?

D. JONES: Yes.

TALTON: And their concern was that they would like to have their own representative, is that correct?

D. JONES: I beg your pardon?

TALTON: And their concern was they wanted to have one state representative, is that right?

D. JONES: Yes, that was one of their expressions to me.

TALTON: In other words, they thought that they had too many and the town was broken up. Would you, would that be a good implication from your conversation with them?

D. JONES: I beg your pardon?

TALTON: I said, would it be fair to say that they just felt like that they had too many state representatives dividing up their town?

D. JONES: I think that was one of the points that they brought out.

TALTON: Now today, prior to this plan, the city of Pasadena is broken up into four, but under your plan it will now be five, is that correct?

D. JONES: I'll accept that as correct because you're familiar with it.

TALTON: Mr. Jones, also, do you think it's fair, (I just did this since my district is paired and looked at it because I have most of Pasadena, compared to the other areas), but are you aware that when you look at southeast Harris County, in general, that you have over 500,000 people with one resident state representative under your plan? Are you aware of that?

D. JONES: I would question that, but if you say it's true, I certainly would not question you.

TALTON: After your plan, if your plan passes and becomes law, there would only be Representative Davis that would be representing southeast Harris County.

D. JONES: If there are 500,000 people there...

TALTON: Yes, sir. If you'll look at Pasadena, Deer Park, La Porte, Clear Lake, Sagemont, you'll take all those from the ship channel to the Harris County line, all the way around to Clear Creek, and Clear Creek to the Beltway, or even up to, Beltway to I-45 and I-45 to 225, to the 610 bridge in the ship channel again; if you took that area which is considered southeast Harris County in Harris County, then you have approximately 500,000 people with one resident state rep after the election, if your plan is passed.

D. JONES: If your numbers are correct under the census, then that 500,000 people will have three or more representatives because we have complied with the requirement of meeting "one person, one vote"-which means 139,000, (ideal number), up to about 145,000, (maximum). So if there's 500,000 in that area you described, they have got to have more than one representative.

TALTON: No, sir. If you will look at your plan, I did the numbers assuming that the census data that we have on our RedAppl is correct, and I assume that it is, that after the election that there would be only one resident state rep, Representative Davis and, quite frankly, I do not think that is fair to southeast Harris County.

D. JONES: We accept your opinion.

TALTON: And also, I'd like to point out to Harris County, you have dropped us from 25 to 24.

D. JONES: That's correct.

TALTON: Is that correct?

D. JONES: That's correct.

TALTON: Are you aware that there is not one countywide elected Democrat in Harris County and under your plan it would be 14 Democrats and 10 [Republicans], and possibly 15 Democrats and nine [Republicans] in Harris County after the election of 2003? Do you think that's fair?

D. JONES: I think our total plan is fair, yes.

TALTON: Mr. Jones, how can you say that it's fair when you have countywide elected officials that are Republicans that win and then under your plan you have 14 Democrats and 10 Republicans? Can you answer me that question, in how that is fair?

D. JONES: When we considered all of the restrictions and guidelines, and they were all applied to Harris County just as they were the rest of the state, it developed this plan that we are discussing of 24 members. And let me digress a moment from the immediate question and review that taking of the total census population of Harris County. Harris County was, quote, entitled to 24.4 house seats. We, if you recall in our meeting with Harris County delegation, requested that the delegation consider two plans. One, a 24-membership plan and another, a 25-membership plan. And the reason for that was that because of the Harris County situation, population-wise and I don't mean that critically, that as we developed the entire plan for the entire state, there was always a possibility that we would end up with a pattern that created only 125 districts in other parts of the state. And I told the delegation when I met with them that I would request a 25-member plan and a 24-member plan because if we should have developed only 125 districts, then we could go above our guideline rule of those districts, those counties with a proportionate district above 50 percent would get the above number, those below, the lesser number. Harris County was one of those below but we were prepared to put in 25 districts in the event the total plan developed only 125, it would let us violate that rule. As it eventually developed, we had 126 under the new merit distribution that we're required to follow, and we then went to the 24-member plan instead of the 25-member plan.

TALTON: Mr. Jones, you are familiar, are you not, with the Texas Constitution, because you've been doing this redistricting for a long time, have you not?

D. JONES: It seems a lot longer than it really has been, I think.

TALTON: And you are aware of what happened in 1991 with Bexar County when they had 10.47 and they were given 11, and now we have Harris County with 24.46 who is growing at 20.66 percent, which you remember I testified to in the committee, and you're going to give it to someone other than Harris County, one of the fastest-growing counties, large[st] counties in the state? I don't think that's fair to my area, southeast Harris County, or to Harris County or, quite frankly, it's not fair to the State of Texas. Thank you.

D. JONES: Thank you.


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