Tue May 31, 2011
Travis Dems See Red in New Redistricting Proposal
Leaders of the Texas House and Senate Redistricting Committees would split Travis County into six congressional districts in a map proposed Tuesday (for a PDF click here). Many, like Jason Embry over at the Statesman, see the redistricting as an attempt to leave Austin with four Republican Representatives in the U.S. Congress and one Democratic Representative.
Northeastern Travis County would go into the seat held by U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan. Southeastern Travis County would be in an open seat that extends to San Antonio.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, would be drawn into a Republican seat that goes out toward the Hill Country.
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, would continue to have part of Austin. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, would continue to have a seat that extends eastward toward the Houston area.
The plan drew immediate fire from Travis County Democrats.
"[Republicans] see Austin as a strong progressive constituency, a group of strong progressive voters, and they're trying to divide us up so that we don't have a voice in Congress," said Andy Brown, Chair of the Travis County Democratic Party.
By stretching the one Democratic district from Austin into Bexar County, the new map would leave Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Austin's one Democratic Congressman, vulnerable to a primary challenge from a San Antonio Democrat.
The Democratic Party's Brown said he thought the redistricting would backfire.
"I think voters are going to realize that if they don't start turning out in bigger numbers, that we are going to be saddled with the decisions of this Republican Legislature and this Republican Governor," said Brown.
Redistricting was not voted on in the regular legislative session, but may be taken up in a special session.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story reported that Travis County would be divided into five districts. A careful reading of the Texas Legislative Council's District Population Analysis with County Subtotals, however, reveals four Travis County residents residing in redistricted District 31 (PDF here).
Strictly speaking, it appears Travis County residents would be divided into six districts under the plan.