Four New Congressional Seats for Texas
Democrats demand better representation for minorities
By Lee Nichols,
2:14PM, Tue. Dec. 21, 2010
Texas got an early Christmas present Tuesday: Four new Congressional seats.
The 2010 Census results are out, which of course brings a new reapportioning of representation in Washington. The Lone Star State’s rapid growth over the past 10 years means we get a bigger share of the floor in the U.S. House, growing from 32 seats to 36.
As shown in the graphic to the right, that’s double the next-biggest grower, Florida, which picked up two, with 10 states in the Midwest and Northeast, plus Louisiana, losing.
Since representation in Congress also determines the number of votes each state gets in the Electoral College, Texas will be an even bigger force in the next three presidential elections.
While every state except Michigan saw population growth, Texas’ 20.6% growth was beaten only by Arizona, Utah, and Idaho, which have smaller overall populations.
Gov. Rick Perry was quick to take credit for the news: “Texas’ gain of four new Congressional seats as a result of our state’s booming population is further evidence that Texas remains the best place in the nation to start a business, find a job and raise a family,” Perry said in a statement. “As our state continues to grow at a rapid rate, we will remain steadfast in our effort to uphold the low taxes, restrained spending, reasonable regulations and fair legal climate that has given Texans the freedom to succeed.
“I look forward to working with the Legislature in the process of drawing these new seats into our state’s district map and ensuring that Texas remains a leader in job creation and a land of opportunity for those willing to come here and risk their capital,” Perry added.
In a statement of his own, Texas Democratic Party leader Boyd Richie recalled that the last round of Republican-led redistricting – two rounds, actually, including the sleazy re-redistricting of Texas’ Congressional seats in 2003 – was an ugly, divisive affair.
“In 2003, [then-House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay and state Republican officials achieved their partisan goals by drawing maps that effectively deny a majority of Texas’ African American and Hispanic voters the opportunity to cast a ballot that really counts by stranding them in districts represented by Republicans whose votes in Congress do not represent their interests,” Richie wrote.
“A legal and fair redistricting process must produce new Congressional districts that reflect the Hispanic and African American population growth responsible for Texas getting four new districts,” Richie continued, citing a 33% growth among Hispanics and 16% among African-Americans, but only 7.5% among Anglos. “Given the demographic facts driving Texas’ population growth, the new plan should be drawn to create at least two additional Hispanic opportunity districts and restore African American and Hispanic voting strength in other districts where it was denied and diminished under the current plan.”
One politician with a particularly keen interest in today's news was Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett. He was one of three white Democrats that DeLay targeted for defeat in the 2003 re-redistricting (the effort failed against Doggett and Waco's Chet Edwards, although Edwards finally lost last month; Fort Worth's Martin Frost got knocked off in 2004).
DeLay did succeed, however, in putting about two-thirds of liberal Austin under Republican representation, leaving Doggett – who formerly represented almost the entire city – with only the south and southeast portions.
“As we work together to keep Central Texas moving forward, those who aim to move us backward have just been strengthened,” said Doggett. “While these four additional seats for Texas could ease the redistricting fight, the spirit of Tom DeLay permeates the State Capitol. Some State Republicans remain intent on forcing all of Austin to be represented by the Tea Party.
"Their goal is to cut up our community, defeat me personally, and ignore what makes Austin unique. It’s another big, uphill challenge, but if we get enough folks committed and actively involved, both during and after redistricting, we can overcome their scheme.”