On the Lege: Census Could Cause Senseless Redistricting
The GOP will be in charge of drawing new congressional districts. Terrific.
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. That's double the next-biggest grower, Florida, which picked up two. Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington each gained one; the losers were 10 states in the Midwest and Northeast, plus Louisiana. New York and Ohio each lost two seats. 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 much smaller populations. Gov. Rick Perry was quick to take credit: "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," he said, adding, "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."
Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett warned that foul play was already afoot in the Legislature. "Some State Republicans remain intent on forcing all of Austin to be represented by the Tea Party," he said. "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."
Texas Democratic Party leader Boyd Richie recalled that the last round of GOP-led redistricting – two rounds, actually, including the questionable re-redistricting of Texas' congressional seats in 2003 – was an ugly, divisive affair. "In 2003, 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, citing 2009 Census Department estimates showing 33% growth among Hispanics and 16% among African-Americans, but only 7.5% among Caucasians since 2000; 2010 racial breakdowns will not be available until spring. "Given the demographic facts driving Texas' population growth," he said, "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."
2010 Census Results
Population growth determines each state's representation in Congress. Texas' rapid growth translates to four new congressional seats. Here's the roundup:
GAINED (black on the map):
South Carolina +1
LOST (white on the map):
New Jersey -1
New York -2
Source: U.S. Census Bureau