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Long-delayed redistricting plans in Texas could cinch a Republican majority in the U.S. House for another decade, but first Texas GOPers must stop fighting among themselves.


Texas Redistricting Could Cinch GOP House Majority

Long-delayed redistricting plans in Texas could cinch a Republican majority in the U.S. House for another decade, but first Texas GOPers must stop fighting among themselves.

The Republican majority in the Texas legislature is plotting “to turn back the clock and politically segregate Texas,” Democratic State Sen. Eddie Locio Jr. charged last week.

Strong language like that is common these days in Austin. Having retained their 19-to-11 seat advantage in the state senate and won a majority in the state assembly for the first time since the 19th Century, Texas Republicans are now moving to replace a court-ordered map of the state’s 32 U.S. House districts. Under redistricting plans now on the table-one enacted in the House, the other in the Senate-the present U.S. House delegation, which has 17 Democrats and 15 Republicans, could be replaced with 21 Republicans and 11 Democrats.

That would give Texas more Republican U.S. representatives than any other state, significantly increasing the odds of Republicans’ controlling the U.S. House for another decade. This prospect has driven Democrats to employ desperate tactics , including sending 11 state senators to New Mexico to deny the senate the required quorum for taking up the redistricting bill.

Having finally forced the exiles to return two weeks ago and take up redistricting in a special legislative session-the third such session since the summer began-Republicans found their path to triumph blocked by internecine disagreements. The house quickly voted out its map, which ensures 21 Republican districts. But the GOP-controlled senate passed a different plan, which would likely create 18 Republican districts and 11 Democratic districts, and make the districts of veteran Democratic Representatives Ralph Hall, Charles Stenholm and Chet Edwards “swing” districts.

The heart of the GOP dispute is an ancient geographical feud. House Speaker Tom Craddick (R.) favors the House plan because it allows his hometown of Midland to dominate a new congressional district. The senate plan preserves the current 19th District, which Midland shares with Lubbock, a city with twice the population of Midland. Republican State Sen. Robert Duncan has made little secret he will fight to preserve the current district.

Some Republicans are becoming nervous that their prized plans to pick up seats in Congress might slip away. U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R.-Tex.) jetted to Austin two weeks ago in an unsuccessful attempt to craft a compromise between the House and Senate.

“It’s inconceivable to think we can’t pass a fair redistricting plan after all the hard work that got us this far,” warned former Harris County (Houston) Republican Chairman Gary Polland, an expert on redistricting. “Failure to pass a plan, and the required fourth special session, will be a major embarrassment to the Republican Party.”

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as ???the man who knows everyone in Washington??? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on what???s going on in the nation???s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as ???Gizzi on Politics??? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of ???Gizzi???s America,??? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. John???s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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