Castro Will Challenge Doggett in New District
Texas Tribune reports San Antonian wants seat
By Lee Nichols, 4:18PM, Fri. Jun. 24, 2011
Republican efforts to oust liberal Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett are starting to bear fruit: The Texas Tribune is reporting that state Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, intends to run for the proposed new Congressional District 35, which would run from East Austin to San Antonio.
GOP map-drawers created Dist. 35 partly to comply with federal mandates for "minority opportunity districts" – ones in which minorities have an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice – but also to get rid of Doggett, one of their mortal enemies. They redrew Doggett's Dist. 25 in a way that makes it impossible for him to win, taking away most of his East Austin base and matching him with the conservative Hill Country, running north almost to Fort Worth. Doggett said that although he believes the map is illegal, "I'm ready to live in a Winnebago if that's what it takes" should the map withstand the inevitable court scrutiny (and assuming Gov. Rick Perry signs it into law), and would move into the more winnable Dist. 35.
It's the second time Republicans have tried this: Back in 2003, under the infamous "re-redistricting" led by then-U.S. House Majority Leader (and now convicted felon) Tom DeLay, they similarly made Doggett's old Dist. 10 unwinnable for a Democrat, and drew Dist. 25 to stretch from East Austin to the Mexican border, figuring the latter would be too Hispanic for a liberal Anglo to win.
Instead, Doggett moved into the district and won. A 2006 court decision later changed Dist. 25's boundaries, and Doggett currently represents southeast Travis county and several rural Central Texas counties.
As the Tribune notes, this race – again, assuming courts allow the bizarrely shaped district to stand – would pit an old political veteran against a rising star: Doggett, 64, was first elected to the Texas Senate in 1972, served on the Texas Supreme Court, and has been Congress since 1995; Castro is only 36 and was elected to the Texas House in 2002, and his twin brother is mayor of San Antonio.