State Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) is out with an alternate congressional proposal. More later but for now, here’s the link to the map: Plan C250
After this Wednesday’s Senate redistricting committee hearing, Empower Texans founder, Michael Quinn Sullivan, sent out the following tweet:
Now, Sullivan is just being funny and provocative - and he’s pretty good at it, even if he does sometimes annoy State Sen. Kel Seliger.
But while he’s just having fun, you do increasingly get the sense from talking around that a number of Republicans still are stuck in 2003 when it comes to redistricting.
And, well, they’re fighting the last war.
Redistricting was the big partisan political story of the first decade of the 21st century. It was an epic fight worthy of the books that have been written about it - with colorful, larger-than-life characters, high stakes, and improbable stories like covert flights to Oklahoma and New Mexico with Texas Rangers hot on the chase.
But it also was last decade’s story.
The world has moved on and, from a Democratic perspective, including the perspective of many Democratic donors, the fight coming up is a very different one - a battle for political control of the state at a statewide level in a ‘play big’ sort of way.
And as some Republicans like GOP chair Steve Munisteri have recognized, that battle has already begun with groups like Battleground Texas now on the ground. In the coming years, it will only become even more intense.
I can’t pretend to know the outcome nor can anyone. And you don’t have to agree that it’s a wise fight for Democrats to be having (though Greg Abbott has described it in Axis of Evil terms).
But I do know the battle will be big, expensive, and brutal - and will have the potential to reshape American politics in a way that only Texas can.
It will be fun to watch and a battle worthy of Texas, and Hispanic Texas will play a starring - and maybe decisive - role.
But here’s the rub: the battle ahead will have very little to do with the handful of state house or congressional seats at issue in the current redistricting fight.
Not that I am in the business of advising Republicans, but hey, guys, you are using the wrong frame. The current fight really is about fixing some discriminatory features in the 2011 maps. The partisan political street fight you may think you’re having is happening somewhere else.
In fact, ironically by treating a fight about modest but important changes to do right by Texas’ booming non-Anglo population as a repeat of the massive political knock down, drag out of 2003, Republicans may not only be fighting the last war, they may be winning the battle but losing the war.
We’ll see if the next few days prove any of this wrong.
Here’s the State of Texas’ brief opposing participation in the Texas redistricting case by Congressmen Pete Gallego and Filemon Vela.
Gallego and Vela had asked to intervene in the San Antonio case to “ensure that any Texas congressional redistricting plans fully protect the residents and voters of the 23rd and 34th Congressional Districts and also minority voters throughout the State of Texas.”
Gallego and Vela both won their seats in the November 2012 election and took office in January 2013.
In its brief, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott opposes allowing Gallego and Vela to participate in the case on the grounds that “the Congressmen’s interests are adequately represented by the existing parties.”
A few more tidbits from today’s release of new Census data covering the year ending July 1, 2012.
Nationwide, Hispanics accounted for the largest share of the nation’s non-Anglo population increase in raw numbers (though the country’s smaller Asian population grew faster as a %):
Of the 1,146,441 Hispanics added to the nation’s population in that time, Texas accounted for nearly 20%. California accounted for another roughly 20% of the growth.
Nationwide, natural increase (births) rather than immigration is now the primary driver of population increase for Hispanics and African-Americans. Immigration remains the larger driver for Asians. And as for Anglos, Anglo growth would have been negative if it had not been for immigration.
Last but not least, nationwide just shy of 50% of 1 and 2 year olds are now non-Anglo.
Texas, of course, reached that milestone some time ago.
[Note on sources: Except for the second chart, all charts from US News & World Report here]
Ahead of tomorrow’s floor votes, State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) has filed a proposed amendment (Plan C248) to SB 4 that would draw add a Hispanic opportunity district in North Texas by relocating CD-3 from Collin County. That seat currently is held by Congressman Sam Johnson.
The West amendment is limited to North Texas and is identical to Plan C238 proposed in the House by State Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas).
At times, redistricting can expose competing visions of community of interest.
That can especially be true on maps like a congressional plan, where districts have a large required population, and the where the tussle often is over creation of new opportunity districts.
But, at other times - as I suggested in an addendum to a piece I wrote earlier this week - those competing visions aren’t always at odds with one another.
The place where that is more true than any other is the state house map - and that has a lot to do with what urban Texas has come to be.
In major urban counties in Texas today, populations are not only increasingly diverse but also increasingly mixed up in terms of where people live. In Dallas County, for example, very few cites don’t now have substantial non-Anglo pockets. Those pockets may not be integrated with Anglo communities (sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t), but they are in close physical proximity.
The same goes for large parts of Harris County or Fort Bend County (now the most ethnically diverse county in the nation).
And on top of that diversity, add the fact that state house districts are relatively small (target population of just 167,637).
That combination of small size and diverse populations means is that if a mapdrawer just draws logical, geographically compact state house districts, those districts will be ones where non-Anglos may not control the result of an election - but will almost always be ones where they have a sizable voice in electoral outcomes.
In fact, in most urban counties, you now have to go pretty far out of your way - and with some deliberateness - to avoid that result.
My earlier pieces (here and here) took a look at Dallas County where the fracturing of non-Anglo neighborhoods resulted in oddly shaped, non-compact districts like HD 105 and HD 113 that split large numbers of cities. Exactly the sort of districts that Anglo and non-Anglo voters alike say they despise.
But similar issues can be found elsewhere in the current interim map.
Take for example, HD 26 in Fort Bend County. In the San Antonio court’s original interim map, HD 26 was a compact district taking in most of the city of Sugar Land:
That resulted in a district with a citizen voting age population (CVAP) that was 16.6% Hispanic, 17.6% African-American, 26.1% Asian, and 38.8% Anglo.
But as drawn by the Texas Legislature - and incorporated wholesale into the second interim map - the district became an oddly shaped district that splits non-Anglo communities and weaves through Fort Bend County to pick up Anglo neighborhoods:
The resulting district is one with a CVAP that is: 14.3% Hispanic, 11.1% African-American, 21.1% Asian, and 52.3% Anglo.
And the issues aren’t just confined to the major urban and suburban counties. In Bell County, for example, the original court-drawn interim map placed all of the city of Killeen (adjacent to Fort Hood) in a compact version of HD 54:
However, the Texas Legislature’s map and the second interim map, split Killeen, placing the bulk of the city in a district with rural Lampasas County but the parts closest to Fort Hood in a different district:
The effect of the split was not only to divide a natural unit (the city of Killeen) but to reduce the district’s African-American CVAP by five percentage points and to increase the Anglo CVAP by nearly 8 points.
This morning’s Census Bureau data release also includes updated county-level demographic data current through the year ended July 1, 2012.
Data nerds have at it here.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Texas’ population growth since the last Census.
This morning, the Census Bureau released new updated numbers giving the estimated demographic breakdown of the state’s population increase for the year ending July 1, 2012.
Not surprisingly, the growth continues to be largely non-Anglo and heavily Hispanic.
Altogether, since the 2010 Census, Texas has added an estimated net 499,979 new Hispanic residents and 129,347 new African-American residents, but had only a net increase of 155,193 new Anglo residents.
The Census Bureau also released a state-by-state breakdown by ethnicity by age range, and those numbers put Texas’ looming demographic revolution in even starker relief. In fact, Hispanics now make up an absolute majority of Texans under the age of ten.
Which gets to a tweet I received from someone who read a redistricting guest column I wrote over at the Texas Tribune:
Now, of course, Anglos are moving to Texas (and having babies).* But as the chart above shows, Texas also is disproportionately Anglo at older age ranges. That means that there also is more Anglo decrease (deaths) than there is for groups with younger demographics.
In fact, while this age factor long has been at play in Texas, the Census Bureau also reported today that Anglo deaths exceeded Anglo births nationwide for the first time ever.
Texans like to brag that we’re ahead of the curve, and, in this one area at least, we are.
* See this piece for a breakdown of the components of state population growth (births, migration, immigration) between 2010 and 2012.
More Supreme Court decisions this morning, but no opinion in Shelby Co.
Next opinions: Monday, June 17, at 9:00 a.m. central time.
A decision did come down in Tarrant Regional Water District v. Hermann, unanimously upholding that the Red River Compact did not preempt Oklahoma’s restrictions on Texas’ use of water. Opinion here.
No opinion in the UT affirmative action case.
Coverage of Wednesday’s Senate redistricting committee hearing from:
Tim Eaton of the Austin-American Statesman
Gromer Jeffers of the Dallas Morning News
Enrique Rangel of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
David Saleh Raufof the Houston Chronicle
Chris Tomlinson of AP
And coverage of the House redistricting committee hearing in Houston from:
It’s not my intent to write about every email I get about maps, but sometimes they help illuminate some difficult issues.
Take, for example, the emails I’ve gotten from dyed-in-the-wool Democrats complaining - with some vocalness - that the various maps proposed by Democratic members don’t go far enough in creating Democratic seats - either in the state house or congressional maps.
And that’s right. They don’t. And that’s because it is important to understand that there are two kinds of maps.
The first are maps intended to address the minimum of what is legally required. Then there are maps that comply with the requirements of law but that also are drawn to meet political or policy objectives (such as electing a lot more Democrats).
Though some Republicans no doubt would want to quibble with this assertion, the alternate map proposals offered by Democratic members in the special session come a lot closer to falling in the former category than the latter.
Take, for example, Plan H312 by State Rep. Yvonne Davis which reunites non-Anglo neighborhoods in Dallas County that were fractured in the state’s original map as well as the interim map, while also succeeding in drawing more geographically compact districts and dividing fewer cities.
While some of the districts might become Democratic under Plan H312, others would merely become more swingy and others would become more solidly Republican.
It’s a better map on numerous fronts but certainly is not the most Democratic map that could be drawn for Dallas County.
What Democratic complainers need to understand is this: To optimize Democratic gains, Democrats first need to go win a few more elections in order to be in a better position to influence the political part of the process (e.g., have a governor who can veto a bill, etc.).
Until then, or until the Supreme Court recognizes a claim for partisan gerrymandering, the dispute really is a different one: about complying with the basic requirements of law with respect to protection of non-Anglo voters.
Which gets to a question raised by another emailer: Why are Republicans so resistant to what are meaningful, but relatively modest, map changes that will have no overall effect on the balance of power in either Austin or Washington?
That’s a good question. I’ve written elsewhere in a guest column that there seems to be much less at stake for Republicans politically than there was in 2011.
And while it is certainly possible to disagree in any particular instance on the exact boundaries of what the law requires, there seems to be a not inconsiderable legal risk in not trying harder to get to a deal.
After all, you would think Republican members would recall all the things they were told last time by their legal advisors that turned out to be wrong:
* We’ll go to the D.C. court rather the DOJ for preclearance. It will be faster, and the ruling will be better. (The D.C. court unanimously denied summary judgment finding that Texas used the wrong standard for measuring ability-to-elect districts and then after a trial found both retrogression and discriminatory intent. Worse, the process dragged on into 2012, requiring both interim maps and delay of the 2012 primary.)
* We can do things like swap out high voting Hispanics for low voting Hispanics as long as the overall number of Hispanics is the same. (Rejected by D.C. court which said the state’s actions resulted in retrogression in CD-23. The court held, instead, that the required ‘functional analysis’ means looking at the actual electoral performance of districts.)
* Crossover districts like the old CD-25 are not protected and can be dismantled at will. (The D.C. court found 2-1 that the district was protected and unanimously that the congressional map was the product of discriminatory intent.)
* Email communications between congressional Republicans and legislative staff are privileged. (The San Antonio court and D.C. court both required disclosure of emails, which proved to be both revealing and entertaining - see here, here, and here.)
* We can rush the maps through on limited notice, don’t need field hearings, and don’t have to take amendments offered by non-Anglo members even on non-substantive points. (The D.C. court specifically cited to the 2011 process as evidence of discriminatory intent.)
I could go on, but the point is not to say that the state has bad lawyers but rather that any litigation takes on a life of its own (or is a “known unknown” as Donald Rumsfeld would say).
So why not negotiate harder?
The best explanation I can come up with is that most members really don’t understand redistricting and so default to the familiar frame of Ds vs Rs - a frame where what matters is running up the most points in a BCS style contest. Or maybe people are just too tired and just don’t want to deal with making choices.
It’s their call, of course, but it’s worth noting the state’s record in predicting the future thus far hasn’t been that good.
The Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force sent a letter to the chairs of the House and Senate redistricting committees today, saying that the interim maps “were not perfect” and that “there is room for improvement.”
The letter noted that the Legislature was not under the same legal constraints placed on the San Antonio court by the Supreme Court and was “free to create maps that fairly reflect the voting strength of minorities and recognize future growth.”
The letter implicitly rejected contentions by some Republicans that map proposals by Democratic members resulted in retrogression, saying:
Some of the recently introduced congressional redistricting proposals echo proposals by the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force to: create a new Latino opportunity district in Dallas-Fort Worth (C188; C236; C238; C241; C246); create a new minority opportunity district in Harris County (C188; C243; C246); and strengthen the ability of Latino voters in West Texas CD23 to elect their preferred candidate (C188; C236; C246).
The full letter can be found here.
Although there had been some speculation that the House redistricting committee would vote out bills this Friday or Saturday so that the full House could take them up Monday when it reconvenes, that no longer seems to be the case.
Instead, the House redistricting committee now will meet at 1 p.m. on Monday in Austin to take up pending business.
The Texas Senate will take up the three redistricting bills voted out of committee this morning (SB 2, SB 3, & SB 4) on Friday at 9:30 a.m.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said that he expects the votes to be completed by noon that day.
Redistricting committee chair, Kel Seliger, asked that any proposed amendments to the bills be submitted “as soon as possible” but did not specify a suggested time.
After a two-hour hearing this morning, the Senate redistricting committee voted out bills that would make the three interim legislative and congressional maps permanent.
The votes on the bills were all on party lines 8-6.
The hearing started with a bit of drama after the committee voted down amendments offered by State Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), which would have removed language from bills finding that the interim maps complied with all requirements of the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. Committee chair, State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), opposed the amendments saying they would “gut the bills,” and the amendments also failed 8-6 on a party line vote.
Before the vote on the bills, the committee also rejected substitute maps offered by State Sens. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) (Plan C243) and Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) (Plan C246) as well as a more limited amendment offered by Garcia affecting just two current Democratic held districts (Plan C244).
State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) also offered a committee substitute proposed by State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) (Plan C245), though West pulled the amendment before a vote.
West also filed a substitute map (Plan C242) but did not offer it in committee today.
The action now shifts to the Senate floor at 1 p.m., with the expectation that the Senate will vote on bills this Friday.