Texas Redistricting Maps Boost Latino Seats

By Michael Li

The three-judge panel in Washington released its interim map proposals for the state house and senate today.

The maps can be found here The senate map is Plan S163.  The house map is Plan H298 (Judge Smith also has a dissenting state house proposal, which is H299).

The parties have been asked to submit any comments or objections by noon, tomorrow, November 18.  A final order on the interim state house and senate maps could come as early as tomorrow afternoon.

There’s a whole lot more analyzing to be done, but a few (very preliminary) highlights:

  • State Sen. Wendy Davis got a competitive seat back.
  • State Reps. Hubert  Vo and Scott Hochberg are unpaired and each will have a seat to run in.
  • The Mexican-American Legislative Caucus is estimating that the map creates 58 minority opportunity districts, up from 49 in the state’s map.  Some sources are saying the map could create as many 15 new Democratic leaning seats.

Overall, it looks like a big day for the state’s growing minority population – and for Democrats.

Oh, no interim congressional map as of yet.  It could come tonight or later tomorrow. Then MALDEF’s statement on the changes included:

  • Locates an additional House district (HD 35) in the Rio Grande Valley that will afford Latinos the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice.  At trial, MALDEF argued that the significant population growth in Cameron and Hidalgo Counties warranted the addition of a House district.
  • Increases the Latino population of HD 78 in El Paso so that it will afford Latinos the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice.  At trial, MALDEF argued that the Legislature’s House plan intentionally gerrymandered the El Paso seats to ensure that Latinos would constitute an ineffective minority of voters in HD78.
  • Increases the Latino population in HD 144 in Houston so that it will afford Latinos the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice.
  • Maintains HD 33 in Corpus Christi as a Latino opportunity district.  HD 33 was eliminated in the Texas Legislature’s redistricting plan when it reassigned the district to Rockwall County.  At trial, MALDEF argued that the elimination of HD33 as a Latino opportunity district violated the Voting Rights Act.
  • Maintains HD 117 in San Antonio.  HD 117 is a Latino-majority district that was re-drawn in the Texas Legislature’s redistricting plan to minimize the ability of Latinos to elect their preferred candidate.  At the remedial hearing, MALDEF argued that the Legislature intentionally gerrymandered HD117 to protect the incumbent at the expense of Latino voters.
[Photo By Fry1989]

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