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Texas Redistricting: Winners and Losers

The Supreme Court's decision to largely uphold the mid-decade congressional re-redistricting plan in Texas that led to the defeat or retirement of six Democratic incumbents in 2004 has sparked a spin war of massive proportions.

Always attempting to provide Fix readers with the straight political dope, we offer a sampling of winners and losers from the decision today. Remember that this process remains in flux (the map has been remanded back to a a lower court to make the necessary adjustments) and winners today could turn into losers down the line.

WINNERS

State legislators: This ruling empowers state legislators to redraw congressional districts whenever they see fit. Given this increased power, the fight for control of state legislatures could well draw more national attention and money each cycle. Take New York for example. Democrats hold a wide majority in the state House and are likely to control the governorship after this fall's election. Should they win back the state Senate, Upstate Republicans like Reps. Jim Walsh, John Sweeney, Randy Kuhl and John McHugh could be in real jeopardy.

Former Rep. Tom DeLay (R): DeLay was the mastermind and driving force behind this re-redistricting plan, and the Supreme Court ruling today did little to affect the gains the map delivered for Republicans in 2004. While DeLay won the battle, he lost the war as his work to take over the state House in 2002, redraw the lines in 2003 and then defeat the Democratic targets came at a high political price: his career in elected office.

Former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D):
Rodriguez's political career, which seemed all but over following his primary loss earlier this year to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D), has new life. Assuming the courts remove Webb County out of Cuellar's 28th district and consolidate the seat around San Antonio (as it was prior to the re-redistricting) Rodriguez would be the odds-one nominee in the new seat.

LOSERS

Rep. Henry Bonilla (R): No matter how you slice it, Bonilla's 23rd district will get more Democratic as a result of this ruling. Bonilla has faced serious races before -- in 2002 he beat now Rep. Henry Cuellar by just 6,000 votes -- but the remapping removed the most Democratic sections of Webb County (Laredo) out of the district and he won with 69 percent in 2004. This cycle has been especially cruel to Bonilla as he was seen as the frontrunner should Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) have decided to challenge Gov. Rick Perry (R). Hutchison backed out, leaving Bonilla high and dry. Now, he may have to a serious fight to keep his congressional seat.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D): The most likely solution to the Court's problem with Bonilla's district is to move Webb County back into the 23rd. Cuellar, who lives in Laredo, would then be forced to decide whether to run against Bonilla for a second time or run in a district centered around San Antonio that has none of his natural Laredo base. Some Democrats will be gleeful should this come to pass as they never forgave Cuellar for challenging Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in the 2004 Democratic primary.

Former Rep. Martin Frost (D): Frost was the mastermind behind the 1991 Texas plan that preserved a Democratic majority in the Lonestar congressional delegation for the decade. As a result, he was enemy #1 of Republicans when they redrew the lines in 2003. Frost put up a real fight against Rep. Pete Sessions in the 32nd district -- he spent almost $5 million -- but lost 54 percent to 44 percent.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 28, 2006; 5:39 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Comments

yes

Posted by: peter | June 30, 2006 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we could use 21st century tech every 10 years and let a computer use the census info to redraw voting districts to include an equal number of voters irregardless of race, policital affiliation, etc? Or is that too sensible and democratic?

Posted by: Renee | June 30, 2006 12:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, "Martin Frost did" NOT "do the same thing in 1991". Martin Frost followed well established custom of redistricting only after a recent census.
Any idea how calamitous this ruling can make every state's redistricting now?

Posted by: radiofreebevo | June 29, 2006 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I saw you mentioned, New York 29th district's own Rep. Randy Kuhl (R) as potentially being in jeopardy from a new redistricting plan by the New York state legislature. I guess then you are assuming that the brilliant Eric Massa will not win that seat in November. Well, Chris, for the first time in many weeks, you are right. Massa has the same shot at winning that seat as Bill Parcells has looking good in a speedo. Neither situation will never occur and never should.

Posted by: Lawrence Frogg | June 29, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

FH,

I would say that most of the posters of the liberal persuasion are not saying that the ruling is necessarily unfair, rather that it is not good for our democracy. I think most posters would say that even if democrats were engaging in this process it would be bad for the country. As a liberal, I would be happy to have more democrats in Congress and would absolutely love it to see NY, IL, and CA engage in TX style redistricting and put an absolute strangle hold on these three huge states.

As a citizen of the US I feel that if these three states engaged in this type of gerrymandering, it would be bad for democracy. I know it will never happen, but I believe there should be some sort of mechanical district drawing process instituted at the federal level, as was proposed in another post above.

Posted by: chris | June 29, 2006 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I guess you could go out and try and convince everyone, no matter what their political persuasion might be, that you have a better direction for America. It would require a cohesive effort with new and exciting ideas that would energize every voter, not just the ones that agreed with you. That just might check some of these partison districts.

No, no...better just complain about the unfair nature of the Supreme Court decision.

Posted by: FH | June 29, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

AndyR -- Thanks for making that comparison so I didn't have to. I have no idea if Delay will ultimately be convicted - this kind of thing is always hard to prove - but the idea that there isn't a case and that poor, victimized Tommy boy is being persecuted is just ridiculous. Ultimately, however, I think views like those espoused by "Joe" are simply indicative of the way that conservatives continue to view themselves as victims despite the fact that they control every lever of power in the Federal Government. Seriously folks, it's been a long time since the days of FDR and Truman. You've controlled the White House for most of the last three decades and everything for 10 years - time to stop pretending like everyone is out to get you.

Posted by: Colin | June 29, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Joe,
A drug dealer takes 191,000 from his customers. Then takes that money and sends it to a banker that he knows. He then calls that banker and says "I am sending you 191,000 to this account, I want you to send 191,000 from another account to these addresses". The banker says sure and then sends said 191,000 to multiple places in columbia. That is Money Laundering.

A 'politician' takes 191,000 of soft money from his 'donors'. Then takes that money and sends it to a 'the RNC' . He then calls the RNC and says "I am sending you 191,000 to this account, I want you to send 191,000 from another account to these addresses". The RNC says sure and then sends said 191,000 to multiple places in 'Texas'. Now how is this NOT money laundering?

Posted by: Andy R | June 29, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Brilliant, Bobby something-hypenated-something.

Astute and analytical generality. Ignorance wears well on you and you aren't afraid to put it on full display. Congratulations

Posted by: Joe | June 29, 2006 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Colin. Additionally, while reminding politicians of their personal political histories may be constructive, challenging their complaints with 70-year-old accounts of long-deceased presidents is not.

I agree further that justices have historically shown a relative independence of the parties that nominated them. Notable examples include Stevens, Souter, O'Connor and, further back, the infamous Earl Warren.

The one consistency is redistricting reform, Andy, is that the majority party opposes it. From a values perspective it is indeed utterly hypocritical for a party to support it in one place and oppose it elsewhere. But then again, most leading opponents offer little in the way of reasoning besides the fact that, hey, it's politics. A buddy of mine, before he voted no on the amendment in Ohio, simply offered, "I just don't want to help the liberals."

I don't know whether that honesty is refreshing or horrifying.

Posted by: peter | June 29, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Joe, unlike you I do not have access to the Delay file, but I know this the ALL REPUBLICAN TEXAS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS refused to through out the charges against Delay.

I guess the conspiracy is the ALL REPUBLICAN TEXAS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS just wanting to destroy an innocent fellow Republican.

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes
www.balancingtheissues.com

Posted by: Joe | June 29, 2006 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Andy R

Be specific, what evidence? There is no crime in the separate transactions that were conducted.

Soft money, because it could not be used in TX, was given to the RNC's soft money account.

The RNC, which, (an important point so don't miss it) exists to elect Republicans, AND had an INDEPENDENT and fundamental interest in electing Repubs to the state legislature in TX in 2002, just like they did in every other state, so they contributed "hard" money from a different account to those TX candidates.

Even if you eliminate the transaction from the DeLay PAC to the RNC, the RNC still would have contributed money to those candidates.

There is no conspiracy and there is no laundering.

The charge was made up out of whole cloth in order to have the effect that it did...DeLay automatically forced to step out of leadership.

Find me another politician in all of American legal history that has been charged with money laundering of political money...doesn't exist. Just like no other politician besides DeLay has been charged under the RICO statutes...another frivolous abouse of the legal system to try to dry up his resources and damage him politically.

Again, what evidence? ...and be specific.

Posted by: Joe | June 29, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Andy - you raised an important point about the impact on immigration and the House - most of the Central Americans who tend to vote Independent or Republican gained their citizenship through the AMNESTY program in the 80's -

The Republicans are rapidly making the CA's mad becasue they fear their fellow CA's who are not citizens are going to be sent home-

If I were Bush I would be banging my head up against the wall over how the HOuse is undoing all of his work in bringing Latinos into the GOP.

People need to remember that Latinos on the border are not the same as Latinos outside the border areas

Here in Brownsville every US citizen Latino wants an end to wealthy Mexican nationals sending their kids to our schools for free - they simply claim a Brownsville address and then cross the border every morning using their 20 year visa. The House has refused any legislation to stop this practice and Governor Perry says the State of Texas cannot stop the practice because it is a federal issue.

My point is we are not one voice -

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes
www.balancingtheissues.com

Posted by: Bobby Wightman-Cervantes | June 29, 2006 2:35 PM | Report abuse

You know it is a sad day Bobby when you might lose friends because of your political support.
I also wonder how long the GOP influence on the hispanic population will be after immigration reform goes through. Especially if the version is one like the house is proposing.
Hal the problem with your scenario is that a representative from Texas has a say in the laws that govern me in Massachusetts. I beleive that since they have a say in my life I should be able to help get a person elected in any district with money or my time. Now I don't usually do this but sometimes I do for people I really like or against people I can't stand.

Posted by: Andy R | June 29, 2006 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Kinky, give the man a cigar!

Posted by: Nor'Easter | June 29, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Andy, you argue the mythical consensus that Latinos will vote Democratic - years ago in Dallas County, even the Republicans were surprised when a Democrat lost to a Republican in a heavy Central American COmmunity - Central Americans like the Cubans are more likely to vote independent or Republican

I will tell you in South Texas, the last bastion for Democrats in the State of Texas, they voted for Bush twice - here in Cameron county (95% latino) it appears that a Republican will be elected as the County Judge (in Texas this means the CEO of the County)

My city district, which is one of the poorest in the City of Brownsville, known as Southmost because I am nearly on the river is held by an Anglo - Atkinson - Anglos have no problem winning in this 95% Latino community.

Every Democrat I know will be voting for Kinky Freedman and not the Democrat Chris Bell - The Democrats of South Texas are nothing but a group of thieves and the people are tired of it - Out of fear of losing friendships and business relationships I no longer speak of my open support for Chris Bell.

I have no use for Bush but I will say this - his policy as Governor to bring the Latino community into the Republican party was brilliant - it has paid off in TExas

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes
www.balancingtheissues.com


Posted by: Bobby Wightman-Cervantes | June 29, 2006 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I would also like to say the citizens of Texas lost.

Currently the game is rigged. He who raises money and is a party loyalist gets elected. It has nothing to do with represent their districts interests. In texas Districts are twist and turn all over the place it doe not allow for community (the building block of a democracy) to exist.

Another nail in the coffin of Democracy.

Possible solution

Only voters registered in a representatives district may donate money.

a Political Party may only provide back office support such as office space phones copiers, election law reporting etc

An election is valid only if 60 percent of the registered voters vote.

Think how that might change the current mix.

Posted by: Hal | June 29, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Karen -- You should go back and read some of the details of the hisotry you cite. When FDR tried to pack the court, members of the DEMOCRATIC party were outraged and rejected the plan. Moreover, the SAME members of the court who had rejected quite a few pieces of new deal legislation ultimately relented before anyone was replaced. It's generally referred to as the "switch in time that saved nine." Finally, I think we all agree that IN THE PAST the Supreme Court hasn't served as a rubber stamp for anyone and that who appointed individual justices hasn't always controlled how they end up voting. The problem is that GWB has politicized the courts more than any president in history, such that that is changing. That's the problem.

Posted by: Colin | June 29, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Joe, I live in twisted Texas - I know what it is to live in a district which is stretched so long it longer than most states in New England - the opinion of Kennedey does not make something so - do you have any idea what it feels like to live in the bastion of liberalism (Section) in Dallas Texas
and not have your vote count because your district is stretched into the KKK territory of far East Texas .

Further, the entire point of my piece was to say let's use a mechanical process and let the apples fall where they may fall - for all I know my proposal would mean even more Republicans in Texas-

To Chris - I like Andy R.'s proposal on the top 20 state legislatures - it might add some light to the real impact.

The consensus in the posting from both sides is - we need to switch to a mechanical process - somehow to Joe this means a double standard by the Democrats -

a true mechanical process will protect the Republicans in New York and California - this is not a double standard Joe - it is a bipartisian standard which will protect all parties equally.

BObby WIghtman-Cervantes
www.balancingtheissues.com

Posted by: Bobby Wightman-Cervantes | June 29, 2006 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I trust that the supreme court knows much better than I do the legality of the situation in Texas and they probably made the correct decision.
However, the politicians don't seem to get the political ramifications of this. Delay thinks that by doing this he has created a situation that will create a Republican dominance for the next 100 years. The only problem is that the increasing Hispanic population in Texas will slowly move the electorate to be more democratic. When this happens and the Dems take back the Legislature they're gonna throw this back in the GOPs face. That is why they should make a concession now to a non-partisan decision making process for their state.
But I don't expect either party to jump at that idea. The Democrats supported the measure in Ohio, and opposed it in California. The GOP stance was the opposite. Hypocrites both if you ask me.

Also Joe, there is no way Delay doesn't get convicted of something. The evidence is strongly against him in the Texas case, and it seems that the Feds have got em pretty good too. But hey he is innocent until proven guilty.

Posted by: Andy R | June 29, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh, God, the Liberal version of Chris Ford is alive here. Mess with the Constitution for something that is a state right to define by residents of a state.

Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum politics at it's worst.

No wonder why folks consider there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | June 29, 2006 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Just wanted to state that in referring to Nor'Easter I should have said his or her rather than her.

Sorry for all these posts, I really need to take more time reviewing them before I hit the submit button just like I should take more time digesting my food when I eat!

Posted by: Jason | June 29, 2006 1:33 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats call the Supreme Court a rubber stamp for President Bush. I guess they forgot that President Franklin Roosevelt tried to PACK the court by ADDING more judges, either 4 or 5 of his buddies.

FDR was pissed the Supreme Court kept demolishing his New Deal plans, because FDR failed to work with Congress. That is why FDR tried to PACK the court, to get them to walk the FDR march as rubber stamped judges in owed their jobs to FDR.

Now, the rest of the story is that by the time FDR died in 1945, he had replaced every judge at least once, so that the Supreme Court was totally new as compared to the Court which existed in January 1933.

That is the debate the Democrats are trying to make with the rubber stamp garbage. So I guess their own political history is nothing to be proud of.

When Rov v Wade was decided in the 1970's, 7 of those judges had been appointed under a Republican judge. Hardly rubber stamp.

Finally, on the matter of the Texas redistricting decision, it is a political decision to be made as set up by the US Constitution. If Martin Frost was part of gerrymandering in 1991, then he is the one who deserved to kicked out for abusing his own political power. It is a shame FOX News is paying that mouthpiece for the Democrats, since Martin Frost is now considered a political hack.

Posted by: Karen | June 29, 2006 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Look at the big brains on Bobby something-hypenated-something.

Come down off your self-made ivory stoop and do a little research of the Kennedy opinion itself.

Kennedy called the '91 plan a gerrymander and basically said this was a more fair representation, so it was an actual defeat for gerrymandering.

I'm a Republican and I think it is funny as hell that all you self-righteous liberal blow hards sit around all day and write your vast wisdoms down in blogs.

Bottom line: Tom DeLay was vindicated on this and will be vindicated on two other major issues in the next six months in Austin, TX and here in DC with the DoJ.

What are you going to say then?

Amazing how many double standards you all are so eagerly willing to apply...grow some objectivity and then maybe voters would take you and your ilk a little more seriously.

If you can't advocate and pursuade voters with winning positions and win elections with it, maybe you don't deserve to be so rhetorically high and mighty...

Posted by: Joe | June 29, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Yep, all talk no action, again.

I swear the Democrat party has taken up how the French run government!!

Folks will be on Pluto before our Slowskis finally get around to change anything -- and rest assured they'll w--h--i--n--e like the French along the way!!

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | June 29, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

A follow-up to my last post. This, as Nor'Easter implies in her post needs to be done on the federal level NOT on the state level, otherwise there is no way to ensure fairness in the process.

Posted by: Jason | June 29, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Drindl the Dope wrote:
===========================================
"Well, I don't see them hanging out with pimps, hos, crackheads, junkies, con artists and murdereers like your friend, the 'president'."
===========================================

You voted for Bush, Drindl, not I. :)

Why you just *know* theres pimps, hos, crackheads, junkies, con artists and murderers around the prez.

Keep suffering from Foot and Mouth Disease. The drooling is so becoming from you!

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | June 29, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I strongly agree with Nor'Easter. I would hope Congress can do this by statute rather than needing to amend the constitution, but it must be done. For the legislature to want to do it, it must come from a whole bunch of us lobbying them to do it because they are not going to want to do it on their own.

Posted by: Jason | June 29, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

There'a simple solution to the regular chaos prescribed by this Syupreme Court ruling.

A Constitutional Amendment.

Not a phony one; a real one.

One to which both parties should be able to agree. It would amend Article I, Section 2. Clause 3. saying, "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined according to the Decennial Census of the United States. The actual Enumeration shall be made only once within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. This shall take effect with the first Decennial Census of the United States following the ratification of this article."

Or something to that effect.

With the DeLay approach everybody loses eventually; Democrats and Republicans.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | June 29, 2006 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Redistricting is an exercise of political power granted to the states. The Supreme Court decision reaffirming that, so long as there are no Voting Rights violations, is no big surprise. Unless the people (voters) are willing to make reform of the process an election issue on a state by state basis, don't expect any changes soon. And, given all the other issues that voters are focused on, don't hold your breath waiting for that. The question then becomes will state legislatures, in the interest of good public policy, voluntarily step forward and reform the process? No. No legislature, Democratic or Republican is going to willing give up the power to draw legislative districts unless it is a matter of political survival or there is some benefit to be gained. In California the legislature is talking about reapportionment reform for three reasons. First, due to term limits, most of them will not be around when the next set of districts are drawn, Second, it polls well with the population (notwithstanding last November's vote) and could pass as an initiative in a future election. Third, reforming term limits will be coupled with relaxing term limits, extending their political lives. We can whine all we want, but don't expect any changes in the states unless it is in their political interest.

Posted by: jclark | June 29, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

This week the United States Supreme Court delivered two opinions which in effect will destroy any hope of the United States continuing as a democracy. In the Vermont case the Court found the States cannot set spending limits on campaigns. This means the US will eventually become a democracy run by the wealthiest of Americans.

In Texas, political gerrymandering won out over true representative government. My position on the issue is simple. The number of people in any given state should be divided by the number of Congressional seats. Assuming that number is 500,000 you begin the in north west corner of the state and then proceed southward and eastward in equal distance until you have 500,000 people in the district. You keep on doing this until you have designate all of the districts. Let the apples fall were they fall.

Now to the brain dead Democratic leadership in the Beltway. If you want to stop the Republicans from redistricting Texas again and again and again until there are no Democrats left, you stop sending money to Barbra Radnofsky for the US Senate and start to send money to Chris Bell for Governor.

To the Republicans who think this is funny, let's see how funny it is if a Democrat wins the governors house in California, and then redistricts Republicans out of the State. The country and more importantly our democracy lost in the Texas case.

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes
www.balancingtheissues.com

Posted by: Bobby Wightman-Cervantes | June 29, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

A nonpartisan (possibly mechanical) redistricting method would be the ideal, but I don't see it happening any time soon. As a liberal Texan, I didn't like the Republican plan (it's about twice as partisan and counterintuitive as the Democratic plans of the past had been, including ridiculous one-county wide snake districts reaching hundreds of miles long), and clearly wasn't sporting, but I didn't think it was illegal.

Unfortunately, it's just one more slip down the slope into 100% full-time ugliness in American politics. I hope some of the state parties can find their way clear to enter into some type of "gentleman's agreement" not to redistrict constantly trying to gain any advantage they can cook up. If they don't, we may never get anything substantive done again.

Posted by: Staley | June 29, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Peter for the detail on Ohio. You know that is what kills me. The republicans have to see the writing on the wall that with the whole Taft debacle they are gonna lose some serious strength in the Buckeye state. Now would be an ideal time for them to support a non-partisan commission. But they won't do it because pols have this view that they will always be in power no matter what.
Also this makes the thread we had a few weeks ago about state legislatures seem even more pertenant. CC why don't you do a top 20 of State legislatures that might change hands and what type of influence that would have on federal districting.

Posted by: Andy R | June 29, 2006 12:40 PM | Report abuse

In Ohio the state districts are drawn by a panel consisting of the Governor, the Secretary of State, the Auditor, and one leader of each party from the legislature. The plan is then submitted to the legislature for approval. In 2001, as it is today, these statewide offices were held by Republicans, so naturally the plan favored Republicans, and the Republican legislature approved it applaudingly. This year, Democrats have a realistic opportunity to take at least two of these posts - but whatever plan they draw is subject to the vote of the legislature, which is, of course, overwhelmingly Republican. Even for a plan that would draw mostly competetive districts, how many Republicans would vote for a plan could redistrict them out of power?

Ohio is arguably the most influential purple state - but assuredly, Andy, no such truce exists.

On another note, I'd imagine that with the current demographic shifts occurring in Colorado, the issue of redistricting there will assume a greater degree of urgency following the Texas case.

Posted by: peter | June 29, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The other case this ruling could potentially impact is the redistricting case in Colorado, Lance v. Davidson. The Colorado legislature did exactly the same thing the Texas legislature did, passing last-minute redistricting legislation after a court-mandated plan was implemented the previous cycle. In Colorado's case, however, the Democrat-leaning state supreme court threw out the legislature's map in a case brought by the then Democrat Attorney General (and now US Senator, Ken Salazar). A separate action was filed in federal court on the issue, and it's still in play.

The US Supreme Court recently reversed a motion to dismiss the federal case based on a certain type of preclusion doctrine, and remanded the case to the Colorado federal district court for a hearing on the merits.

It should be interesting to see how this Texas decision impacts the Colorado redistricting case. The editorial page editor of the Rocky Mountain News sure seems to think it is worthy of some attention: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion_columnists/article/0,2777,DRMN_23972_4808695,00.html

Posted by: RRC | June 29, 2006 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I tend to think that this after a few bumps and bruises will work itself out. Republicans in State office usually can't draw their own districts (the State Supreme courts will never let that go down). They can redraw the Federal districts. Now in most purple states the two parties are pretty close in terms of who controls the legislative houses. So if the GOP try and gerrymander districts then when the Democrats take power they will do the same thing. These guys Know that and what will happen is a sort of non-aggresion plan to keep both sides happy.
The reason this didn't work in Texas was because Delay turned the screws on all the republicans that opposed the redistricting by holding up the money and influence that he controlled.

Posted by: Andy R | June 29, 2006 11:33 AM | Report abuse

On the ballot last November here in Ohio was a slew of election reform amendments, one of which would have created a nine-member committee in charge of drawing competetive legislative districts. It failed, only garnering something like 35% of the vote.

Ohio has been dominated by Republican politicans for the last 16 years. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the state legislature 2:1, and consequently currently has 12 Republican U.S. Representatives and 6 Democratic Representatives - the same 2:1 ratio. There is arguably only one competetive district in the entire state, and that is the one currently by gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland (D, OH-6).

And yet, John Kerry got 49.2% of the vote here, and party registration is virtually equalivalent for the two parties. The problem, you see, is not unique to Texas or California (which rejected an amendment similar to Ohio's), or anyplace else. Republicans, being fully aware of their ludicrously advantageous position, voted against the amendment in full force. However, a number of prominent Democrats -members of the party that stood to gain from the amendment - refused to endorse it on the grounds that they'd like to redraw the districts in favor of Democrats someday. Nevertheless, it wasn't these politicans that voted down the amendment (and the three other election reform amendments on the ballot), but the Ohio electorate.

Isn't it fitting how democracy precipitates its own fall?

Posted by: peter | June 29, 2006 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Drindl,

Oh my God, Amen! I'm absolutely astonished at how much Americans DON'T pay attention to what's happening to this country. In Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" he talks about how a frog, if placed in boiling water, will jump right out of the pot. However, if placed in cold water and that water is slowly heated, the frog will sit right there until he's boiled to death. That's exactly what's happening to this country and most Americans are just sitting there in ignorance and denial about what going on.

Posted by: KAS | June 29, 2006 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Oh come off of it now, Drindl. Even as a very liberal person, I can see why the court ruled this way. It is repeatedly mentioned in the opinions that redistricting was done for mostly political purposes, and while that may not be the most moral way to do it, it ain't illegal.

The SC decision wasn't wrong. The redistricting was wrong from a democratic standpoint. If the Congress has any moral fortitude they would pass a law strictly defining how and when districts are to be redrawn, and assign that to a nonpartisan or bipartisan panel (within each state). Arnold tried to do this, but it was voted down and the Democratic statehouse nearly went berserk because it would have meant lost seats for the Dems.

Redistricting by politicians is an awful practice, but it is not one for the courts to change because it is fully within the law that those politicians wrote.

Posted by: Mike W | June 29, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Colin, I think no matter what happens now it's going to get ugly. Republicans still hold the majority. What's to stop them now from redistricing every state by November, so there's no chance they can lose that? Now, with computers and voter info, you can draw a district with 100% accuracy of how th vote will go.

Our founders likely coulnd't have imagined the technology we have. Combined with e-voting machines, redistricting is, quite simply, destroying democracy.

Everything people say and do here is useless, if we have no vote. We ARE losing democracy and the complacency we exhibit about it astonishes me.

Posted by: Drindl | June 29, 2006 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Chris: One minor point.

"This cycle has been especially cruel to Bonilla as he was seen as the frontrunner should Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) have decided to challenge Gov. Rick Perry (D)."

Perry is a Republican. The rumors were that Hutchison would challenge Perry in the Republican primary because many Republicans view Perry as incompetent and ineffective. Of course, this didn't happen, and Perry is on his way to a comfortable reelection.

Posted by: Ind. in TX | June 29, 2006 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Drindl -- I agree 100% that once a decade redistricting by some kind of non-partisan group is what ought to happen. I'm just not sure what basis the Supreme Court has for mandating that that happen. After all, the Constitution really does leave the process up to the States. Honestly, as messy as things are like to get now, do you really think that the 9 Supreme Court Justices (hardly non-partisan figures)would do a better job in deciding on a case-by-case basis whether each redistricting was allowable? That would get ugly...

Posted by: Colin | June 29, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Oh here comes Sandy the Hitler-lover talking about the 'radical' Dems. Well, I don't see them hanging out with pimps, hos, crackheads, junkies, con artists and murdereers like your friend, the 'president'.

I mean, it isn't radical or anything to invite the junky limbaugh to the White House 2 days after he gets busted AGAIN for illegal drugs, in violation of his sweetheart plea deal for his previous drug bust, said apparent embrace and pardon thereby prejudicing the prosecutor's case against him?

You wanna talk radical, Sandy? Your party has turned DC into a stinking sewer.

Posted by: Drindl | June 29, 2006 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Seriously? Cause I was pretty much hoping that eventually all this crack-smoking would pay off.

nuts. now I have to find a better way to get things done.

Posted by: Jake | June 29, 2006 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Once again, all mouth and no backbone. Just throw up your hands and cry, "I wish..."

That's how Republicans win. They get mad and they take it to the people (who get mad), and then they get what they want.

Problem with Dems is they're so fractured with a radical Left holding them hostage. They can't get mad as it'll upset these bridge burners, so they'll just whine, and let the Republicans walk over them for the 100th time (or they'll spend their nights/mornings/afternoons and evenings trading insults with folks online).

Worse, they just wait until Marky has a brain fart to order them about like his personal lemmings (and redirect the anger that stumps votes to nowhere -- with Dean smiling in the background, "What tools!").

Want to win? You don't give up. You don't spend 5 years crying foul. You don't waste your time hob nobbing just to meet and greet. You pull long nights doing things that you despise (like traveling all over to gladhand); you survey (even in areas that would scare the bejeezes out of you); you make a presence at your state capital, one the Republicans can't ignore. You picket. You do anything but wallow, snort, smoke that bong (or crack) hoping some salvation will just plop in your lap.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | June 29, 2006 3:06 AM | Report abuse

Hastert is a loser in today's decision only in the vaporous land of make-believe. However much they may hate his politics, Blago & the Dems (not, BTW, an excellent name for a rock band) would be crazy to make waves for a Speaker who brings the federal bacon to the state.

Posted by: mark | June 28, 2006 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Sigh. Why can't there be a non-partisan way to redistrict once a decade?

I'm sick of having congressmen choose their voters. I don't care what party benefits.

Posted by: Jeff | June 28, 2006 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the real question why our 'president' hangs out with a heroin junky like Rush Limbaugh, who breaks any law with impunity?

From the Post's Dan Froomkin:

'After making a few Viagra jokes, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh yesterday described his Friday visit to the West Wing, which included a private chat with Bush.

Limbaugh was in town to emcee a Heritage Foundation forum on the TV show, "24," which is the darling of conservatives for, among other things, its endorsement of torturing terrorists.

"Went over to the White House and I chatted with the president in the Oval Office, was just the two of us for about 15 minutes, and he said to me, 'Where are the "24" people?' I said, 'They're still over at the media gaggle, they're right behind me.' . . . I am not going to divulge the contents of the discussion. These things are off the record. It was pleasant and highly informative, by the way, on a couple of things."

Afterward came lunch with Karl Rove, and several hours just hanging out in his office. "Now, I've been in Karl's presence not a lot, three or four times, but never for this length of time. I can't tell you how brilliant and educated and informed the guy is."

Yeah and you know Rush just got arrested again for illegal drugs and you've probably heard about him and this actress from '24'. How can this not make you want to go straight to the bathroom and puke out your guts? My god, what has this country become?

Posted by: Drindl | June 28, 2006 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the real question what happens to Dogget's District 25? Doggett could be a winner or a real loser, depending on how the legislature responds. And what is the most likely scenario for the bordering districts?

Posted by: Adams Morgan former Austinite | June 28, 2006 9:29 PM | Report abuse

That's the sad fact of it. And they did it quite consciously, and methodically, and thoroughly. Because 'conservatism' became like mosts isms- Communism, Stalinism, Nazism. There may have been some ideals somewhere along the way, but they were abandoned once power and money were achieved, and all that is left is bloodthirst for more power.

Posted by: Drindl | June 28, 2006 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Something about what's good for the goose is good for the gander keeps popping to mind. Thank you Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove for starting and completing the utter polarization of what remains of American politics.

Posted by: vienna local | June 28, 2006 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Another looser is Dennis Hastert. The democratic domninated statehouses and governors office in Illinois could easily gerrymander Hastert back to being a high school wrestling coach.

Posted by: Adam | June 28, 2006 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Politics and polarization are a big winner, and government is a big loser. Letting lawmakers draw their own districts (in state races) is an outrageous assault on democracy, even when done only once a decade. And now the Dems have no good choice but to do the same thing as Exterminator Man where they have a good opportunity. The claim by an earlier post that the current map merely reflects Texas today is ludicrous. The severely pro-Democrat tilt after the 1990 census has been replaced by a severely pro-Republican tilt. The Supremes could have simply said no to mid decade reapportionments. This may someday be seen as a significant step on the road towards the dissolution of the Union, right up there with Bush's wild regime.

Posted by: mike | June 28, 2006 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Well, exactly Colin, which is why they should have left things the way they were -- which is redistricting only at specified times, like after a census. The only way you can guarantee it isn't simply for some other reason.

And if the redistricting were done by a group immune to political pressures [if such a thing exists anymore in America today] it might even be fair.

Posted by: Drindl | June 28, 2006 6:46 PM | Report abuse

YOu seem to be glossing over the fact that the exact same thing was done by Martin Frost in 1991, but he was a Democrat.

The legislature could not come to a decision on redistricting in 2001 and 2003. A 3 court panel maintained the status quo--even though Texas had become predominately Republican. All the redistricting did was to reflect the state.

Everyone also seems to forget that the incumbent representative from Laredo is an Hispanic Republican. He beat an Hispanic Democrat

Posted by: In Austin | June 28, 2006 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Perry (R)

Posted by: JIMMY | June 28, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

This may make some people mad, but I actually think the Court got this one right from a LEGAL standpoint - even if the end result is a policy nightmare. Basically, I just don't think any court would be able to make objective determinations regarding whether redistricting was motivated by politics, by race, by population changes, etc.

As a result, I guess this whole thing will eventually have to be decided through the legislative process. Either that, or maybe enough people will get fed up with the problem and we can pass a Constitutional Amendment that only allows redistricting after the census....

Posted by: Colin | June 28, 2006 6:28 PM | Report abuse

You have to look at it from a positive viewpoint, Comrade Jay. Now we are free from the onerous burden of elections -- why spend all that time and money holding them, if the incumbents will always win? And indeed, why bother to vote anyway, when every single voting machine in the country is owned by a Bush Pioneer sworn to keep republicans in power, with secret proprietary software that can't be checked?

And if you think our 'elected' reps are behaving badly now, imagine the freedom to rip us off they'll enjoy now, knowing they haave lifetime tenure!

Viva the glorious revolution! There's hardly a trace of democracy left!

Posted by: Drindl | June 28, 2006 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Loser number four: the American people.
the fact that Texas politics has anything to do with me here in New jersey makes me wish for a redstate-bluestate divorce.
http://einkleinesblog.blogspot.com/

Posted by: jay lassiter | June 28, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Fabulous! Now we have not only a rubberstamp Congress, we have a rubberstamp Supreme Court! Once again, glorious fascism has won!

Posted by: Drindl | June 28, 2006 5:42 PM | Report abuse

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