Candidates Assess Prospects in New Districts
A court in San Antonio released new district maps for congressional and state legislative seats Tuesday. Now that the maps are in place, new candidates may come out to challenge sitting lawmakers in Central Texas.
Longtime Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) could be in trouble. But he’s not the only one with constituents that will need to learn about their new incumbent congressman.
Travis County goes from three to five congressmen, with districts that stretch from Austin north to Tarrant County, west to the Hill Country and south to San Antonio.
For Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin, not much has changed. His district has a little bit more of Travis County and a little less of Harris County, and the Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg says he still has a good chance of being re-elected.
“It’s kind of hard to look at the precinct-by-precinct votes over the last two election cycles and draw any real conclusions, because there was so much pro-Obama intensity in 2008 and so much anti-Obama intensity in 2010,” Kronberg said. “But at least on paper it looks like it ought to be a little better for McCaul.”
Kronberg says the only politician not enjoying the new maps is Doggett. He’ll have a tough time winning a seat with most of the vote coming from San Antonio.
“The real Travis County takeaway, though, is that Travis County looks to be like it will be represented by four Republicans and one Democrat, none of whom have a major population center in Travis County,” Kronberg said.
Now, one thing to consider is that the House, Senate and Congressional maps released by federal judges in San Antonio are interim maps. The Texas Tribune‘s Ross Ramsey says they will only be in effect for the 2012 election.
The interim maps have to be reconciled with maps under review by a court in Washington. Those maps, drawn by the Legislature, are going through a process called pre-clearance. Because of a history of discrimination, Texas is required to get federal approval on any changes to voting procedures.
“So it could be that you come in, you reconcile these court decisions after these elections,” Ramsey said. “And the Legislature comes in and says, ‘you know, we don’t like your map.’ They can start redrawing all over again, and we’ll be back where we are now.”
And of course that could mean another round of lawsuits.
There’s one more scenario, according to Kronberg. The D.C. court said it could rule on the legality of the Legislature’s maps sometime this week.
“So wouldn’t that be a hoot if this new map comes out, has to be pre-cleared, and on Friday they come out with their decision essentially saying, well, the whole damn map was discriminatory,” he said.
If that were to happen, the Texas primary could be pushed back to June while another set of new maps is drawn.