Thursday, November 24, 2011

Judges' new congressional map favors Democrats

(click image for larger view)

San Antonio - If adopted, a new Congressional District map proposed by a U.S. District Judge would potentially eliminate as many as 6 Republican seats.

Judge Orlando Garcia, an appointee of President Bill Clinton who came to the federal bench in 1994 from the 4th Texas District Court of Appeals, adjusted the work of a largely Republican Texas legislature in order to represent the increases in Hispanic population over the past 10 years.

One of the big winners in the new plan is U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat whose District 25 seat would remain safely within the confines of south Austin in liberal Travis County. Under the legislators' plan, District 25 would extend from the Tarrant County suburb of Burleson in Johnson County to the north shores of Austin's Lake Travis and the hill country Hays County community of Spicewood to its west.

Mr. Doggett is a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and a member of the “Killer Bees” liberal Democratic caucus who denied quorum in Texas Senate sessions dominated by conservative Republicans by hiding in a parking garage across the street from the capitol building.

A powerful Hispanic lobby, NALEO (National Association of LATINO Elected and Appointed Officials) said in a statement released on Wednesday, “Latinos accounted for 65% of Texas' growth last decade, which resulted in the state gaining four additional Congressional seats. The Congressional map enacted by the state legislature did not reflect this growth, and would have severely violated Latino voting rights. We are pleased to see the results of the court challenge that produced the new Congressional plan, and we urge the court to order these maps into law.”

A federal judicial panel will review Judge Garcia's work to determine if his plan will be adopted under the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie, “We are pleased that Texas is on the road to fair elecitons in which the voters, rather than Republican mapmakers, will get to determine the outcome. The maps enacted by the legislature were an egregious example of Republican overreach and a complete disrespect of the changing Texas demographics.”

Republican officials will have until the end of this week to provide their ideas about how they would prefer the map drawn by Judge Garcia to be changed.

Additional detailed maps that show proposed changes to especially large counties and how Judge Garcia's plan would affect pairings of incumbents may be viewed by clicking here.

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