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Meet the New Boss: Cactus Jack

As leaked expected ... Jack Cagle is your new County Commissioner.

I don't know that any expectation of someone from the diminishing "respectable" wing of the GOP was ever going to happen unless a placeholder appointment was in the works. But, from the sounds of this 1995 Houston Press story mentioning then-attorney Cagle's work on behalf of rightwing activist Larry Maxwell suggests that there might have been some room for a higher expectation. I realize he was just the attorney for the guy ... but still.

Given his far right bonafides, I'd expect Cagle to navigate his way through any contested GOP primary when the seat is up in 2014. How he settles into the divide between Radack and Emmett seems to be one of the few possible rays of hope.


Harris County Redistricting: The Demographics [UPDATE]

I'm still refining the Google version of the Harris County Commissioner Precinct map. For now, though, here are the demographics, reformatted from the PDF map of the draft plan ...

         Anglo            Hispanic         Afr-Am            Asian
1 Total 187,320 (18.0%)  392,565 (37.7%)  400,005 (38.4%)   55,840 ( 5.4%)
  18+   161,903 (21.4%)  251,869 (33.4%)  291,693 (38.6%)   45,263 ( 6.0%)

         Anglo            Hispanic         Afr-Am            Asian
2 Total 310,908 (31.4%)  566,738 (57.2%)   81,577 ( 8.2%)   26,037 ( 2.6%)
  18+   248,936 (35.7%)  366,570 (52.5%)   58,219 ( 8.3%)   19,642 ( 2.8%)
  CVAP  260,519 (50.4%)  194,774 (37.7%)   48,851 ( 9.4%)   12,349 ( 2.4%)

         Anglo            Hispanic         Afr-Am            Asian
3 Total 416,970 (40.0%)  356,206 (34.2%)  149,009 (14.3%)  113,576 (10.9%)
  18+   327,376 (43.2%)  235,551 (31.1%)  103,277 (13.6%)   86,772 (11.4%)

         Anglo            Hispanic         Afr-Am            Asian
4 Total 434,628 (42.8%)  356,031 (35.0%)  144,754 (14.2%)   73,095 ( 7.2%)
  18+   347,415 (47.4%)  228,580 (31.2%)   97,792 (13.3%)   54,280 ( 7.4%)

I added the CVAP numbers for Pct. 2 since it is obviously the one of most interest for Hispanic numbers. I'm hoping to do the same for Pct. 1, but I believe the numbers for Total Population and 18+ Population are demonstrative enough to conclude that it meets the criteria for a VRA district. Expect to hear about this from people with a greater interest than I have in it.

The biggest reason? It's retrogressive. Some context missing from the PDF of the plan is what the district looks like in its current format, as of the 2010 Census data. In order to shed some light on that, I ran those numbers from the Lege Council's data and got the following.

           2001     2010 BASELINE       2011 PROPOSED
          -------   ---------------     ---------------
Total               888,572             991,395
Anglo     (36.9%)   248,481 (28.0%)     310,908 (31.4%)
Hispanic  (52.1%)   533,812 (60.0%)     566,738 (57.2%)
Afr-Am    ( 7.8%)    83,886 ( 9.4%)      81,577 ( 8.2%)   

VAP                 626,274             697,829
Anglo      (41.5%)  203,286 (32.5%)     248,936 (35.7%)
Hisp       (47.6%)  345,683 (55.2%)     366,570 (52.5%)
Afr-Am     ( 7.6%)   58,788 ( 9.4%)      58,219 ( 8.3%)

CVAP                462,610             522,280
Anglo               219,504 (47.4%)     260,519 (50.4%)    
Hispanic            183,729 (39.7%)     194,774 (37.7%)
Afr. Am.             43,701 ( 9.4%)      48,851 ( 9.4%)

First things first, since it's been a while ... if you're wondering how the CVAP count for Anglos can be higher than the 18+ counts for Anglos, read this. It has as much to do with the counts coming from a non-Census survey (the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, to be precise) as it does the fact that datapoints from as far back as 2005 are included in the counts. While it's an obvious curiosity for Harris County in particular, the percentage shares that the ACS gets for Total Pop and 18+ Pop are typically within a couple of points of being in line with the apples-to-apples Census percentages.

The 2001 basis for Commissioner Precincts (taken from here) is how the district looked when it was created last decade. Comparing it to that, it looks like Pct. 2 is improved on Hispanic numbers. But the baseline for comparison should be the 2010 numbers for the existing district. On that basis, this map looks problematic.

At first glance, it seems possible to me that the issue of retrogression could be fixed without necessarily altering the partisan desires of those on Commissioners Court in drawing the district. But if it goes through Commissioners Court as-is, I wouldn't expect it to come out of the other side of the legal process the same way.

ADD-ON: The County Attorney's site now has a link for redistricting info.

SIDENOTE: I know I've written this out somewhere else before, but just a methodological note for CVAP in particular ... the counts are generated by me. My method is to visually check all Census block groups that are fully contained within the district and to make judgment calls on those that are split. In the case of Pct. 2, I feel that the Hispanic numbers are at the high end due to including a higher degree of split block groups that were majority Hispanic than I might otherwise feel comfortable including. From there, I run the list against the Census Bureau's counts for each block group. It's not perfect, but checking it against how the Texas Legislative Council does it for State House districts, it's proven to be a reliably accurate method against that yardstick.

UPDATE: A quick election comparison for the existing Pct. 2 vs the proposed draft Pct. 2 ...

  • Existing Pct, 2 - 2010 results: Bill White won 49.4% - 48.7%
  • Proposed Pct. 2 - 2010 results: Bill White lost 45.6% - 52.6%

Redistricting: First Take for Harris County Commissioner Precincts

First take at what Harris County redistricting might look like for the four County Commissioner precincts. There are some big assumptions that lead to what kind of map you end up drawing for these jurisdictions. Mine assumes that Jerry Eversole is no longer needing to be protected. I don't know if that scenario is warranted, but one thing becomes clear when trying to draw a 2R-2D map - it's awfully hard to defend the argument that the Hispanic population in Harris County is too diffuse for a single opportunity district. The green district below is about what it would take to accomplish that and as you can see, the counterargument may be that it lacks compactness. The connecting precincts in the northeast corner might be a particular issue in need of finessing if this plan were to become a reality.

With Roads:

With blank background:

The composition of the precincts is as follows:

Precinct 1 (purple): Anglo - 16%; Black - 49%; Hispanic - 27%; Asian - 8% // Obama - 82%; McCain - 18%
El Franco Lee maintains a safe African-American opportunity district. The black percentage in the precinct could use some improvement given the numbers available in Dave's Redistricting App, but the population shift within the county may mean that the precinct might need to take on an Anglo Dem area like Meyerland. That'd be defensible as a coalition jurisdiction, especially since I found myself adding Montrose to it in the first place.

Precinct 2 (green): Anglo - 27%; Black - 12%; Hispanic - 58%; Asian - 4% // Obama - 60%; McCain - 39%
The fact that there is no problem drawing a >55% Hispanic district in Texas may force the issue of the partisan composition of the 2011 precincts. Recall that the existing Precinct 2 is a function of the late Commissioner Jim Fonteno. He had represented a Baytown and Crosby region that was historically Democratic in the past, adding Hispanic precincts over time. As demography and partisanship settled, the district grew to the 50-50 swing district that we now know it to be. Trying to find a way to take the basic structure of Pct. 2 and making Jack Morman safer for the next decade will, by default, represent retrogression of the Hispanic population's voting strength. So it makes some sense in this particular scenario to just draw a better Hispanic district and define the Anglo GOP ring around the county more faithfully.

Precinct 3 (pink): Anglo - 61%; Black - 7%; Hispanic - 23%; Asian - 9% // Obama - 40%; McCain - 59%
Knowing that Steve Radack will be the one drawing these lines, I'm not certain that he'll leave things to chance with a district under 60% GOP. So there is some obvious self-interest on his part to seeing the district made a little safer. Noting the situation with intra-county population shift in Pct. 1, losing Meyerland would help a little. Losing Gulfton would help more. We'll see soon enough if the population shift is warranted for that to happen. Otherwise, where Radack & Morman agree to draw the line in Champions Forest is a pretty big open question.

Precinct 4 (orange): Anglo - 69%; Black - 6%; Hispanic - 20%; Asian - 5% // Obama - 33%; McCain - 67%
Nothing terribly surprising about the way this region is put together. About the only anomaly I accounted for was leaving Pasadena fairly whole, as I suspect their city leaders will argue for that and staying whole with the other refinery towns in the southeast. The fact that this district contains a few Hispanic pockets due to this is another telling indicator of the fact that a Hispanic opportunity district for Harris County may be inevitable.

As time permits, I'll try to draw a map that protects three GOP County Commissioners. I expect that to be tough and it should demonstrate the challenges of improving on this from a partisan GOP perspective.


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