The Trib stayed up all night to see how it ended.
The Texas House tentatively approved new political districts early this morning on a 92-52 vote after hours of nips and tucks that left the proposal they started with mostly intact.
They turned back wholesale redesigns presented by various groups, including the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, a coalition of Latino groups, and a map prepared by the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. They also got a look at a map drawn by Republicans who wanted to press for more GOP seats than in the proposed map, though that one never came to a vote. And they picked and chose their way through amendments that changed the political lines only in particular regions, counties, cities, and neighborhoods.
“I recognize that some members are not going to be pleased with the results of the map,” Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, predicted at the beginning of the 16-hour debate. He said the lines and the stakes were “very personal” to each of the 150 House members in the room.
The Republicans, with a 101-49 supermajority, easily fended off Democratic attempts to overhaul the maps to increase the voting power of minorities. But not all of the votes split along party lines. In fact, three Democrats voted for the map when the debate ended, and ten Republicans voted against it.
West Texas freshmen Reps. Jim Landtroop, R-Plainview, and Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, were drawn into the same district in Solomons’ plan. They got their own districts after the House accepted an amendment.
Here’s the Chron story on the map’s passage. If West Texas got an extra district, then some other district disappeared, but as of now I can’t tell where that may be. Here’s the Harris County view:
And here’s how it looks for my neck of the woods:
I should note that the map changed a bit between second and third readings; here’s the Harris view and the Heights view of the maps that were originally adopted. Either way, there’s still 24 districts, despite the wishes of the Harris County Democratic caucus, Mayor Parker, and Judge Emmett, who modified his original statement on the matter. The roulette wheel ultimately dropped me into HD145, though as before this map splits the Woodland Heights into two districts, with the eastern half remaining in HD148. This map finally does what I expected to be done all along by putting some heavily Republican territory, around the Galleria and in Memorial, into HD134. I have a feeling it won’t look like a swing district any more when the elections data comes out. (Turnout data is here, but that doesn’t tell me what I want to know.)
While this map is a near certainty at this point to get signed into law, it’s less likely that there will be no further changes to it. Democrats are loudly complaining about Voting Rights Act problems with the map, so if the Justice Department doesn’t take action, you can be certain a lawsuit or two will be filed. Whether anything gets changed for 2012 or if it has to wait till a later election remains to be seen.
As noted, the debate over this map was very long and there were about a million amendments proposed. Greg’s liveblogging, which lasted till about 8 PM, has the most detail. Be sure to see his comparison of Rep. Charlie Howard’s proposed district to his current one, which apparently contains too many Asians for Howard’s taste. See this press release from the Texas Asian American Redistricting Initiative (TAARI) for more on that. Other good coverage from the debate comes from Texas Politics and Trail Blazers. The Trib has a chart comparing average margin of victory in statewide races for the new and old districts that’s now obsolete; we’ll see if they update it. It was useful while it lasted, but the spread in statewide results can be pretty broad, and is to some extent driven by funding differentials. I prefer to look at the full range, but I can certainly understand why the Trib took a more compact approach. Greg now has a Google maps view of the plan (original rev here), so you can zoom in and see more details. Burka, EoW, South Texas Chisme, PDiddie, and Abby Rapoport have more.