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Solomons admits his map is a joke

OK, that’s not quite what he said, but you get the idea.

A top state Republican said Thursday that the newly proposed congressional map, which includes an odd-looking “horseshoe” district stretching from the northwestern edge of Harris County to the Louisiana border, will undergo significant changes.

“It’s a proposal, people,” said an exasperated state Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, co-drawer of the map. “I can assure you there will be some changes . . . It’s a work in progress.”

Solomons’ comments at the first committee hearing on the plan raise questions about how long the redistricting process could drag on this summer, and how contentious the effort will be. Officials said there would not be any votes in the House Redistricting Committee on Thursday.

All due respect, Burt, but what did you expect? People took it seriously because it was the map that came from not one but both of the Redistricting committees. And in case you hadn’t noticed, the final versions of the SBOE, State House, and State Senate maps are pretty close to the originals. So don’t go getting defensive about this.

Democrats aren’t the only ones who have expressed concerns about the map. State Rep. James White, a newly elected East Texas Republican, came to the committee Thursday seeking “some illumination” about why GOP leaders drew that controversial “horseshoe” seat. The district starts in central Houston, shoots west through Waller County over to Navasota, loops north through rural counties above Montgomery County — and includes the cities of Lufkin and Woodville — before settling back east and south all the way down to Port Arthur.

“We have some concerns about being anchored with any urban area and what that means for our interest in East Texas,” White told the Tribune. “Ideally we would want a rural Congressional east Texas districts that would highlight our concerns with water, transportation, health care, agriculture and timber.”

Solomons said his office had been getting phone calls about the odd-shaped district and told White he was “100 percent sure” that the map would be changed.

That district, like many others in each of the maps so far, was drawn for the sole purpose of maximizing Republican strength and cracking Democratic voting blocs. You could take the Harris County portion of that district out and make CD36 all rural and East Texas-y, but if you do you put too many Republicans in one district and leave behind a bunch of pesky Democrats that could make life and re-election hard for John Culberson or Mike McCaul or even Ted Poe. Or, heaven forfend, you might have to draw them their own district. I know, I know, it’s heresy. As for Solomon’s assurance that the map will change, I’ll believe it when I see it.

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