Today is Election Day for both the Democratic and Republican primaries. For those candidates who ran during this bizarre primary season, thank you for your perseverance. I can only imagine how trying it has been to get to this point. For the rest of us who finally got to vote, I’m sure it was such a relief to walk into the booth and finally get to cast your vote. While Texas missed the opportunity to have a significant influence in the Republican presidential race, it may be the state that finally locks the nomination in for Mitt Romney. But what about the rest of the races that are on the ballot? How might this epic election shape out today, after all the polls are closed at 7 p.m.?
As some of you may know, I conducted interviews with the three candidates in the upcoming CD-35 race. It followed the same format as I’ve done for city council races and other races – you pick the place and I pick up the tab. I’m sure the candidates are ready to see the interviews published but I hate to say I’m holding off a little bit to see how the Supreme Court rules on Texas redistricting. Some have predicted the ruling could come as early as next week. Almost all are certain the interim maps will not hold, hinting that the Court will consider the publishing of interim maps by the San Antonio District Court a presumption of Section 5 violations, a jurisdictional area reserved for the DC District Court or the Attorney General. Those same people have also speculated the maps drawn by the Texas Legislature will not be used as well, based on discussion by the Court about leveraging maps that have not been precleared. So where might that leave us?
Today Michael Li, a Dallas attorney who has been heavily involved in the Texas redistricting process, put out the latest information of proposed maps and reasoning by interested parties to redistricting. As you probably know the redistricting maps proposed by the 82nd Texas Legislature have been challenged in court by several parties, primarily Hispanic interest parties such as LULAC, MALC, and the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force. While some may think redistricting will force all sorts of challenges in November, as the Texas Tribune notes, the real challenges will be in March when candidates in the two parties will decide who will potentially win the district. Very few of the districts were drawn as competitive and “only six of the 150 House districts were won by one party or the other by less than 10 percentage points.” Monday was the deadline for proposals to be submitted by interested parties. So how did those proposals look?
The redistricting trial finished its closing arguments last week in federal court, with some interesting statements being made by both sides. At stake are not only the boundaries of the current 32 congressional districts in Texas but four new districts allocated Texas as a result of the population growth of the state, primarily fueled by a growth in the number of Hispanics. With four new districts in the mix it creates even more challenges are legislators in Austin worked to create the new maps before the biennium session was over. What you’ll start to see as you look at these districts and others across the state is an interesting approach that seems to splinter urban centers by paring the urban areas with rural areas surrounding the cities. It’s a sort of divide and conquer strategy employed by Republican lawmakers to attempt to keep a Republican majority.
Last week I waded into an interesting debate on the Burnt Orange Report regarding State Rep. Joaquin Castro’s candidacy announcement for the new CD35. After a few short hours it was pretty obvious this race was going to be a controversial one within the Texas Democratic Party. Austin readers were lobbying very hard that Doggett deserved the district after being shoved out by Republicans with the redistricting plans. Those of us from San Antonio and even some Austinites argued that the district was created for Hispanics and that a Hispanic candidate would be the better choice for the district. As is always the case in political debates, it got downright nasty at times. Looking back on it, I have to wonder really who’s district is it?
Yesterday the news was buzzing about the formal entry of State Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) for the expected new congressional seat in Texas, the 35th, currently planned as a part of the expansion of four new seats to Texas. I call the district the “35 Road Trip District” due to its strange gerrymandered run from the downtown area of San Antonio to the southeastern section of Austin and Travis County. It was drawn by Republicans during the last biennium of the Texas legislature, most likely to force US Rep. Lloyd Doggett (R-Texas) into a more challenging situation with his current district, the 25th, which is now more Republican and would possibly force ouster of Doggett from Congress. But with the way the new district is drawn, the bigger question will be how this leaves Democrats.