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Texas Republicans Redistricting Proposal Centers on Incumbency Protection

September 28, 2021 by Reece Nations
Texas Congressional Districts (via https://redistricting.capitol.texas.gov/)

AUSTIN, Texas — Republican lawmakers in Texas’ state Senate released their proposal for congressional redistricting on Monday.

Texas acquired two new Congressional seats after the 2020 census data was published, bringing its total to 38 seats and 40 electoral votes in the electoral college. The current congressional delegation for Texas is composed of 23 Republicans and 13 Democrats, and the new map proposal largely focuses on maintaining incumbencies rather than attempting to flip Democrat-held seats.

Although Texas’ population growth has overwhelmingly been spurred by new Asian, Black and Hispanic residents, the proposal reduces the number of districts where people of color are the majority. The redistricting proposal shrinks the number of congressional districts won by President Joe Biden from 14 to 13 while increasing the number of districts won by former President Donald Trump from 22 to 25.

“The Texas Congressional district maps released today are a travesty of justice and a violation of the United States Constitution,” League of United Latin American Citizens President Domingo Garcia said in a written statement. “The largest growth in Texas between 2010 and 2020 was Hispanics, who added to the population boom in the state. Yet, today’s map all but assures that anyone except a Latino gets a new seat in Congress. Those responsible made sure to pack Latino voters into districts with Blacks and dilute us everywhere else in one of the most bizarre examples of gerrymandering we have ever witnessed. 

Garcia continued, “Since the 1970s, LULAC has challenged redistricting every ten years in court, and we have always won. If senators are not going to do the right thing and address this glaring suppression of our vote, we will go into federal court again to have our voice and our votes respected.”

The Republican proposal overlaps some incumbents’ districts with one another, pitting Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw against Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia and forcing Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston to run against each other. The two new congressional seats were added to Houston and Austin — with the Houston-area seat in a Republican-favored region and the Austin-area seat in a Democrat-favored region.

Despite people of color accounting for around 95% of new population growth in Texas over the last decade, the new map proposal would eliminate the state’s single Black majority district and eliminate one Hispanic majority district. One new White-majority district would be added under the proposal despite the state’s Hispanic population increasing by almost 2 million people since the last census was conducted.

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave Texas an “F” grade overall in its redistricting report card analysis, noting that the proposal holds a “significant advantage to Republicans.” The report gave Texas’ proposal an “F” grade in partisan fairness and a “C” grade in relative competitiveness to maps that could have been drawn.

Because Texas’ Republican-led legislature has final and ultimate control over the redistricting process, they routinely draw congressional districts that their candidates can win comfortably while disproportionately squeezing minority voters into districts that are already Democratic-favored.

In June, a panel of experts hosted by the D.C.- based think tank Third Way pointed out that emerging coalitions of multiracial voters could easily be kneecapped during the redistricting process and stifle elections for Democrats that would otherwise have been competitive, TWN previously reported.

“Texas is a case study for why Congress must work quickly to pass the Freedom to Vote Act,” Eric Holder, former United States attorney general and chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said in a written statement. “The Republican efforts in Texas and around the country to bend or even break the structures of our democracy to retain power are a critical threat. They have made it difficult for Texans to participate in redistricting hearings over the last couple of weeks, right after passing a law making it harder for them to vote.”

Holder continued, “The Freedom to Vote Act will help stop the egregious attacks on our democracy, not only in Texas but across the country — by banning partisan gerrymandering, strengthening protections for communities of color, and putting the power in the hands of the people where it belongs.”

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