Voter Groups Blast New Interim Maps
AG claims he cut a deadline deal with MALDEF, cuts everyone else out
By Richard Whittaker, 5:52PM, Mon. Feb. 6, 2012
A couple of weeks ago, the plaintiffs in the redistricting case were dancing around their fear that Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund was ready to sell them down the river in redistricting. Now Attorney General Greg Abbott is touting new maps that could save the April 3 primary, and claiming MALDEF backs them.
The San Antonio three-judge panel had given the parties in the suit until close of business today to agree on new redistricting maps: Fail to reach that deadline, they warned, and the April 3 primaries would be impossible. Today Abbot presented new House, Senate and Congressional, and said that he had the backing of the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force – which is lead by MALDEF – and the support of Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar.
Well, good enough, we're sold wait a minute!
Yup, yet again these proposed maps screw Travis County (splitting it into five congressional districts.) On a statewide level, it does nothing to improve minority representation. The reason Texas picked up an extra four congressional seats under redistricting was the growth of minority populations, but these proposed maps create zero new minority opportunity districts.
The Lone Star Project breaks down those numbers: "Under the current congressional plan, minority voters have the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice in 11 of 32 districts, or 34.4 percent. Under the AG’s proposed interim plan, the number is likely reduced to only 11 of 36 districts, which is only 30.5 percent."
There is some give-and-take in the House maps: Quorum Report has looked at the lines and calculate that he has drawn some GOP incumbents into nasty primaries, while breaking up the proposed pairing that would bolt Hubert Vo and Scott Hochberg's districts together. However, there may be a couple more GOP opportunities drawn in there as well, and Abbott has basically ignored any claims of Voting Rights Act violations in Senate District 10, currently held by GOP bete noir Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.
Abbott does note in his press release that neither the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC), the Black Legislative Caucus nor the NAACP has signed off on the deal. Well, that's a generous way to put it. In a carefully-worded joint advisory filed today, all the parties – including, interestingly MALDEF – write that "none of the parties to this submission has joined in or has any plans to join in any proposed agreement with the state, in the person of the Texas Attorney General, as to interim maps for the districting plans at issue in this dispute."
MALC Chairman Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, fired back at Abbott with his own statement, saying that "the Attorney General presents an illusion of an inclusive map; the reality is that it falls short of recognizing minority growth in Texas."
As of now, the court remains unimpressed and has told the plaintiffs to keep negotiating.