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The Texas Senate has approved a new political map for its own members that would consolidate Republican dominance in the chamber for the next 10 years, even though Democrats argued that the changes do not reflect the interests of people of color. State that have fueled Texas’ growth over the past decade.
The proposal, brought forward by State Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston, was approved Monday night by a 20-11 vote and would draw safe districts for GOP incumbents who faced competitive races as their Districts diversified in recent years and began to vote. for more Democrats.
Sixteen incumbent Republicans would be drawn to safe districts for re-election, while two Senate seats left vacant by Republicans would almost certainly go to new GOP candidates rather than Democrats next year.based on the percentage of voters in the district who voted for Donald Trump rather than Joe Biden in last year’s presidential race.
At the same time, Huffman’s proposal did not add any additional districts where people of color would represent the majority of eligible voters in the district, even though black, Hispanic and Asian Texans have driven 95% of the state’s growth since. the last census. Hispanics, in particular, were responsible for half of the nearly 4 million increase in the state’s population and now nearly match the number of White Texans in the state.
The state currently has 21 districts where the majority of eligible voters are white, seven with a Hispanic majority, one where black residents are in the majority, and two where no racial group makes up more than half of the total.
“The maps that are being offered do not accurately reflect the growth of Texas,” said Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, who heads the Hispanic Senate caucus. “Without any changes to this current map, the state of Texas could potentially last 30 years, think about it, three decades, without adding a neighborhood of Hispanic or Latino opportunity.”
Menéndez proposed a map he developed with civil rights organizations to add a district in North Texas where Hispanics would constitute the majority of eligible voters and be ready to select their preferred candidate. Hispanics arenow the largest ethnic group in Dallas County. This proposal was rejected.
Following the denial of Democratic senators, Huffman insisted that she had drawn the cards “blindly of the race.”
“I followed the law, I drew race-blind, I think the cards I drew comply with the voting rights law,” she said.
But witnesses who appeared before lawmakers in committee hearings said lawmakers should consider race to ensure they don’t discriminate against voters of color. Since the enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Texas has not gone through a decade without a federal court reprimanding it for violating federal protections for voters of color.
Huffman’s proposal also attacked Senate District 10 in Tarrant County, a district where black, Hispanic and Asian Texans have voted together over the past decade to elect Democrats to more political positions. According to the proposed map, the new District 10, which currently lies entirely within Tarrant County, would span seven additional counties to the south and west that are more rural and have a higher white population. Democrats have argued that such a move would dilute the voting power of voters of color in Tarrant County and likely result in the seat being transferred to a Republican in the next election.
This partisan makeup would give Republicans a 19-12 seat advantage over Democrats, one more than the current 18-13 split.
State Representative Phil King, a Republican from Weatherford who lives in newly proposed District 10, has already announced his campaign for the seat if approved by lawmakers. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, another Republican who chairs the Senate, supported him.
“Do you think your district is being targeted? Royce West State Senator D-Dallas asked Democratic District incumbent Beverly Powell.
“Absolutely,” replied Powell.
Powell proposed two changes to alter the cards. One would bring his neighborhood back to its current limits. The other would make changes to his district and others around him, but would keep District 10 entirely in Tarrant County. Both amendments failed.
Huffman said his proposal was motivated by attempts to equalize populations in every Senate district; keep cities, counties and other communities of interest together; maintain the nuclei of previous quarters; avoid pairing incumbents in a district; create compact neighborhoods; and take into account the political interests of the incumbents.
Patrick praised Huffman’s work.
“The Senate map that was adopted today is fair and legal, and was passed with bipartisan support. This map illustrates our commitment to ensuring that every Texan is well represented in their state legislature and that their I would like to thank Senator Huffman for his leadership and the other 30 senators for their hard work, ”he said.
The Senate also approved new maps for the State Board of Education, a 15-member body that is currently made up of nine Republicans and six Democrats. The proposed map changes the partisan distribution of the council. Seven of the districts went to Biden in the 2020 general election, but under the new proposal, Biden would only have won five of the districts. A district would be considered a random seat.
Cards from the Senate and State Board of Education are now going to the House, where they will need to be approved before Gov. Greg Abbott can sign them as law.