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Kay Granger

One more in CD32

Meet Lillian Salerno, the third major candidate to take a crack at Rep. Pete Sessions in CD32.

Lillian Salerno

Lillian Salerno, who served as President Barack Obama’s deputy undersecretary of rural development for the Department of Agriculture, [officially launched] her candidacy for Congress on Tuesday at Randall Park in Dallas.

“I have the ability to bring people together, find common ground and make sure the vulnerable are protected,” Salerno told The Dallas Morning News. “If you’re going to beat Pete Sessions, the people of the district have to believe that they’ve got somebody who’s got their back.

Salerno, 56, was born at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas and raised in East Dallas. She moved back to the city this year after serving under Obama from 2012-2017. She’s a small businesswoman who led a company that developed retractable needles to protect health care workers from being stuck and infected by diseases like HIV.

Salerno, who has had a long career in politics, said that it was time to run for public office and that Sessions’ policies on health care and other issues made Congressional District 32 the right fit. “Sometimes you just do it,” she said. “The people are so much better than the politicians. … I knew I would get back to Texas.”

Salerno joins a crowded field for the Democratic nomination, including civil rights lawyer and former NFL player Colin Allred and nonprofit executive and Hillary Clinton campaign senior adviser Ed Meier.

Salerno’s webpage is here and her campaign Facebook page is here. The Dallas Observer has done some good Q&As with Meier and Allred, so I look forward to them doing the same with Salerno. In the meantime, if you want to get to know her a little better, I found this Washington Post op-ed she wrote while vying for a Democratic seat on the Federal Trade Commission, entitled “Want to rescue rural America? Bust monopolies.” Read it and see what you think.

On a side note, I am encouraged by the number of women who are running high profile campaigns for Congress in Texas. The two frontrunners in CD16 to succeed Beto O’Rourke are women, and races in CDs 06, 07, 23, 31, 36, and now 32 have leading female contenders as well. There are thirty-six members of Congress from Texas, of whom three – three! – are women. The last time a woman was elected to Congress in Texas was 1996, when Kay Granger won in CD12. Sheila Jackson Lee was elected in 1994, and Eddie Bernice Johnson in 1992. I hope we can all agree that this is maybe just a teeny bit out of whack. Before someone posts the usual tiresome comment, I’m not saying that anyone deserves a vote for being female, nor am I saying that we “have to” elect some number of women to anything. I am saying that 1) women are grossly underrepresented in Congress, both nationally and in Texas; 2) one good way to do something about this is for quality women to run for Congress and for people of good will to give them a fair hearing; and 3) at least the first part of #2 is happening this year, of which I approve. Whatever happens in this cycle, we need for that to continue to happen in 2020 and beyond.

Where are the ladies?

Not in Congress, where only three of the 36 members Texas sends to the House are of the female persuasion.

Week after week at the U.S. Capitol, the Republican congressional delegation from Texas gathers for a ritual Thursday lunch. And year after year, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth has been the lone woman sitting at the table.

“I keep ’em under control most of the time, but not all the time. I do my best,” Granger said with a laugh of her 24 male GOP colleagues.

“It just is puzzling,” she added about the disparity. “And I talk to young women all the time and say their voices need to be heard.”

The Democratic side of the state’s congressional roster is little better, with two women, Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, among 11. In total, that means Texas has three women serving in a 36-member House delegation, plus two male senators.

And its been nearly 20 years since the last new woman from Texas — Granger — entered Congress, if you set aside ex-Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs’ largely ceremonial two-month stint in late 2006.

Republicans and Democrats tend to agree that electing women is good for party, country and Congress, and there is tangible evidence that both parties invest in trying to elect more of them. But actually doing so, particularly in Texas, has proved easier said than done.

About one-fifth of Congress is female, with 84 women serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and 20 in the Senate. The partisan breakdown leans heavily in the Democratic column. As a dominant state in national politics, Texas’ dearth of females is a top concern for those who want to see women advance.

[…]

Nearly every state and national political operative interviewed for this story pointed to one major culprit: the congressional map.

The Republican-dominated Texas Legislature re-drew the state’s congressional districts after the 2010 census aiming to secure as many Republican seats as possible. But the new districts also protected incumbents. With little turnover comes fewer opportunities.

“There are members of Congress in the delegation, I’m sure, that have a very strong base in their district … and their constituents are happy with them,” Jackson Lee said. “But [female representation] is something that we have to put on the minds of Texans.”

Other Democrats are more blunt, arguing that any incumbent protection is going to favor men.

But there have been open-seat races in recent years, thanks in most part to Texas picking up four seats in the last census. And it’s not that women are getting beat. They aren’t even running.

Since the new lines were drawn, there have been at least a half-dozen open primary races where women either did not run or ran disorganized and underfunded campaigns.

In contrast, the mid-1990s marked the high point for women in Texas politics.

Here’s a look at the female candidates for Congress in 2012, the first election after the last round of redistricting.

Democratic primary Dist Name Result ================================== 01 Shirley McKellar 100% 04 VaLinda Hathcox 100% 05 Linda Mrosko 39% * 06 Brianna Flores 32% 07 Lissa Squiers 40% + 10 Tawana Cadien 57% 14 Linda Dailey 17% 21 Candace Duval 61% 22 Kesha Rogers 51% 25 Elaine Henderson 100% 27 Rose Meza Harrison 31% * 30 Barbara Mallory Caraway 18% # 32 Katherine McGovern 84% 33 Chrysta Castaneda 2% 33 Katherine Hicks 13% 34 Denise Saenz Blanchard 13% + 35 Maria Luisa Alvarado 6% 35 Sylvia Romo 21% Republican primary Dist Name Result ================================== 13 Pamela Barlow 22% # 14 Felicia Harris 19% + 15 Rebecca Cervera 20% 22 Barbara Carlson 24% # 25 Dianne Costa 9% 34 Jessica Puente Bradshaw 35% * 34 Adele Garza 36% + 35 Susan Narvaiz 52% 36 Lois Dickson Myers 3% * = Won runoff + = Lost runoff # = Challenged incumbent

A lot more Democratic challengers, which is consistent with the overall higher rate of female incumbency among Democratic women in Congress. Of course, Democratic candidates have a lot more targets to aim for, and in most cases these races are unwinnable. I don’t have any presciptions here – plenty has been written about how to encourage women to actually jump into races – but I do agree that a lack of competitive seats plus a lack of turnover among established incumbents does nothing to help. In other words, I don’t expect anything to change any time soon.

Where are all the ladies?

Christy Hoppe of the DMN notices something missing on the Republican side of the 2014 ballot.

Rep. Kay Granger

The Texas Republican Party has a girl problem.

A glance down the list of GOP nominees set after Tuesday’s runoffs makes it look as if U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth has signed up for shop class.

She is the lone woman among the 50 congressional, statewide and top judicial Republican candidates.

In a year when the marquee races for governor and lieutenant governor will feature Democrats Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, the Grand Old Party looks like it’s going stag.

Candidate Lisa Fritsch warned during the primaries of “the party of all these men and the same old recycled candidates.”

And Fritsch is a staunch conservative who was challenging Greg Abbott for the nomination for governor.

State party chairman Steve Munisteri said he’s noticed.

“I would tell you I’ve had discussions with elected officials and party leaders about this very issue,” he said Tuesday. “Frankly, it is a concern.”

He said he is placing women in high-profile jobs and hoping to recruit more women to run for office.

The story has gone national, but it should be noted that Rep. Granger isn’t quite as lonely as Hoppe says. There is one more Republican lady among the statewide and Congressional candidates – there is also Susan Narvaiz, who is running for CD35 against Rep. Lloyd Doggett. And it’s not like there were a bunch of viable female candidates that filed but couldn’t make it through the primaries. The only serious contender for a statewide office on the R side was Debra Medina, who finished third for Comptroller with 19% of the vote despite that crappy Trib poll that I’m still not tired of mocking that showed her leading, and the only serious contender for a Congressional seat was Katrina Pierson, who was defeated easily by Rep. Pete Sessions despite having Ted Cruz as her overlord. The lack of Republican ladies on the ballot was a problem that one could see coming from a good ways away.

To be fair, there’s not an overabundance of ladies on the Democratic side, but there are three women running statewide. Two of them you’ve probably heard of, plus Justice Gina Benavides of the 13th Court of Appeals, who is running for Supreme Court. There are also two Congressional incumbents – Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Eddie Berniece Johnson – plus two more Congressional candidates, Shirley McKellar and Tawana Cadien. That’s two Democratic incumbents to one Republican incumbent even though Republican incumbents overall outnumber Dems in this group by more than three to one, and seven Democratic candidates to two for the GOP. I’d have liked for there to be more female candidates on our ballot – I did vote for Maxey Scherr in the Senate primary, after all – but given the historic nature of the Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte candidacies – the first time ever that a party has nominated women for both of the top two slots – it’s still something we Ds can be proud of. Better luck next time, Republicans.

Steve Brown confirms he’s in for RRC

It’s official.

Steve Brown

Late Thursday, Steve Brown, the former chairman of the Fort Bend County Democrats, announced his candidacy to join the three-member Railroad Commission, the powerful agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, pipelines and natural gas utilities. He is vying for the seat now held by Barry Smitherman, who is running for Texas attorney general.

Brown said that, if elected, he would look for ways to keep Texas’ oil and gas sector growing while managing its less desirable impacts. “It’s important that we do all that we can to continue the abundant growth of our energy industry, as it is the engine of our state’s economy,” he said in a statement. “It’s equally important that this agency has the resources to quickly respond to everyday Texans’ concerns about safety, private property rights, and the environment.”

According to his Facebook page, Brown has worked on campaigns and in legislative offices of several public officials, including U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Houston; state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston; and former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

Brown said he wants to transform the commission into a “functional, twenty-first century state agency,” likely alluding to the agency’s decades-old computer and software systems that have strained its capabilities. The Legislature recently gave the agency permission to use millions of dollars in fees to begin an upgrade.

His website is here. Stace was first with the news, though we had a preview two weeks ago, and a hint before that. The filing period officially opens today, so expect to hear a bunch of candidate announcements over the next 30 days. Texas on the Potomac lists a few Democratic challengers to Republican members of Congress; note that Smokey Joe Barton is in CD06, so either they got the district wrong or the Dem in question is running against Kay Granger. I’ll be keeping an eye on all the filings going forward. One person who apparently will not be running, much to the disappointment of some observers, is wingnut “historian” David Barton. I’m sure there will be plenty of crazy to go around in other races. Please leave any reports or rumors of interesting candidacies that you know of in the comments.

We should expect boring Congressional races for the foreseeable future

That’s my takeaway after reading this.

CD32

For Pete Sessions, election night ended with yet another resounding send-off to Washington.

He won a ninth term, with 58 percent of the vote. But an analysis by The Dallas Morning News raises questions about how long the swath of Dallas and Collin counties that makes up Sessions’ 32nd Congressional District will remain safely Republican.

And more broadly, the 32nd is a microcosm of the challenges Republicans face maintaining control in congressional and legislative districts as the Hispanic population, which favors Democrats, continues to grow.

The district’s Hispanic-origin population will grow from 25.6 percent to 29.7 percent by 2016 and will only continue in years to come, according to population projections from Esri, a leading provider of demographic software and data. The percentage of registered voters in the district with Spanish surnames grew from 7.3 percent of eligible voters in 2002 to 8.8 percent in 2010.

Experts said that while changes are coming, Sessions should be safe for the next few elections.

“The big takeaway, looking at the last couple of elections in Texas, is that things are changing demographically — and that certainly has political implications,” SMU political scientist Matthew Wilson said. “But the partisan levels of those implications aren’t rising as quickly as the Democrats had hoped for.

“Change is slow, and looking at 2014 or 2016 as a tipping point might be getting ahead of the game a little bit.”

There were two competitive Congressional races this year, CD23 in which Rep.-elect Pete Gallego ousted freshman Rep. Quico Canseco, and CD14, in which Nick Lampson fell short in a race to succeed Ron Paul. The latter was basically only competitive because of Lampson, who represented a chunk of the new CD14 in his first years of service in Congress. Barring anything unusual, Rep.-elect Randy Weber will likely have a smooth ride in 2014. Only CD23 is likely to be seriously contested again.

I base this on a review of the 2008 results for the current districts and the actual results from this election. To put it mildly, there were no surprises.

Dist Obama Houston Dem Candidate Pct ========================================= 05 37.3 42.0 Mrosko 33.2 06 42.2 43.7 Sanders 39.2 07 40.4 39.1 Cargas 36.4 10 42.6 43.2 Cadien 36.2 14 42.1 47.5 Lampson 44.6 17 40.9 44.1 None 0.0 21 42.2 40.2 Duval 35.4 24 40.5 39.9 Rusk 36.0 25 42.7 43.5 Henderson 37.4 27 40.1 45.8 Harrison 39.2 31 42.5 42.4 Wyman 35.0 32 43.8 43.8 McGovern 39.4 Dist McCain W'wright GOP Candidate Pct ========================================= 15 41.8 37.3 Brueggemann 36.8 20 40.6 37.7 Rosa 33.4 23 49.3 45.0 Canseco 45.5 28 41.0 35.3 Hayward 29.7

These are all of the districts in which you could squint and see something potentially competitive based on either the Presidential number or the Sam Houston/Dale Wainwright number. Needless to say, that isn’t how it played out. Some of this is likely due to Obama’s reduced national margin from 2008, which is to say his decline among Anglo voters, some of it is likely due to the absence of resources at the state level, and some of it is likely due to the candidates themselves having little to no resources. Be that as it may, there’s nothing here to suggest there were any missed opportunities or any emerging hotspots. It’s CD23 all the way down.

There are two caveats to this. One is that we will not have the same Congressional districts in 2014. These were interim districts, to be used until the San Antonio court acts on the DC court’s denial of preclearance to fix the issues that the DC court identified. What the next map may look like and how this all may be affected by the upcoming SCOTUS review of Section 5 remains to be seen.

The other is that just because there won’t be competitive elections in November doesn’t mean there won’t be any in March. We saw one incumbent Congressman get bounced, thanks in part to some big external donors, but even if that group doesn’t play in 2014, the following members of Congress are, shall we say, less likely than some of their colleagues to make it to the next round of redistricting:

Sam Johnson, 82 years old.
Ralph Hall, 89 years old.
Kay Granger, 69 years old.
Rubén Hinojosa, 72 years old.
Eddie Bernice Johnson, 77 years old.
John Carter, 71 years old.

If nothing else, we’re likely to see a few spirited primaries in the coming years. Whether we get more than that or not remains to be seen.

Plans from an alternate universe: The Alonzo plan

Here’s my third entry in the the Redistricting Plans From An Alternate Universe series. So far, we’ve seen the Veasey-West proposal and the Gallegos plan and Uresti amendment. Today I have what I consider to be the most interesting map I’ve seen. It was submitted by State Rep. Robert Alonzo during the House Redistricting committee meeting, and it’s Plan C142 on your scorecard. Let’s look at some pictures, starting with Alonzo’s home turf, the Metroplex:

Alonzo Plan C142 DFW

Alonzo, like his neighbor to the west Marc Veasey, goes for two new Democratic districts in the Metroplex, one Latino and one African-American. Unlike Veasey, he does this by drawing a Republican out of a seat, in this case Rep. Kay Granger, whose CD12 would not be recognizable to her. His districts also appear to be more compact than Veasey’s. Now let’s look at Central Texas:

Alonzo Plan C142 Central Texas

District 10 moves west, and may or may not contain Mike McCaul’s home precinct; off the top of my head, I just don’t know. It has about the same electoral profile as the current CD10. Once again, Lloyd Doggett gets restored to a Travis-centric district. CD34, about which you’ll see more in the next picture, wends its way south and takes up a chunk of Bexar County. CD27 comprises a fair amount of the old CD10, as well as some of the current CD14 – it goes down to the coast and also picks up most of northern Brazoria County. CD22 shifts northwest to swipe Austin and Waller Counties from the old CD10. Now let’s look south from here, starting with the Bexar County area:

Alonzo Plan C142 Bexar County

CD28, which once had a small piece of Bexar and included counties like Guadalupe and Wilson, shifts south and west, while CD23 goes south. Continuing south, here’s what we see:

Alonzo Plan C142 South Texas

I guess it’s fajita strips forever, but they do get a new district, CD33, in the bargain. Finally, let’s look at the Harris County area:

Alonzo Plan C142 Harris County

It’s so different I almost don’t know where to begin. Pete Olson would have to move, as Clear Lake is no longer in CD22. So would Ron Paul, as Matagorda County is now in CD27. John Culberson gets banished to the northwest corner of the county, which would make him safe for the decade and would remove his influence over the Universities light rail line. CD36 is new, and may be the single most interesting district I’ve seen proposed by someone with skin in the game. To see why, let’s look at the electoral numbers:

Safe R Dist Obama Houston ======================= 01 30.65 36.37 02 29.72 35.54 03 37.68 37.02 04 33.10 35.39 05 28.83 38.38 06 35.42 36.76 07 30.96 31.84 08 25.90 30.11 11 22.40 28.07 13 22.87 28.50 17 34.69 39.78 19 27.87 31.94 21 32.53 31.71 22 36.25 36.00 24 37.05 36.92 26 31.42 32.66 27 34.08 38.66 Likely R Dist Obama Houston ======================= 10 44.82 42.96 14 42.06 49.08 31 42.57 42.57 32 42.11 42.09 Lean D Dist Obama Houston ======================= 36 51.92 52.53 Safe D Dist Obama Houston ======================= 09 71.37 70.78 12 68.37 68.81 15 56.61 60.86 16 64.15 66.29 18 73.44 72.95 20 58.63 58.60 23 59.00 60.86 25 71.96 69.07 28 58.48 62.64 29 60.80 66.47 30 71.51 72.23 33 58.42 62.35 34 59.18 61.31 35 64.07 65.29

Yes, that’s a genuine swing district. Every Democrat won it in 2008, every Democrat other than Bill White lost it in 2010; the high D score on the statewide ticket was Bill Moody’s 45.58%, with David Porter’s 51.66% being the low R score. I’m sure a couple of countywide Ds did better, but I don’t have those numbers, and I doubt they would have won it anyway. In a more normal non-Presidential year, it would likely be a slightly lean-D district, but it’s not out of the question that you could see it flip back and forth every other year. What’s even more curious to me is that it’s not drawn as a Hispanic opportunity district; the SSVR there is 23.4%. I’d love to know what motivated Alonzo to draw this particular seat. With all four of the new districts going to the Ds, plus the two takeaways (Granger and Canseco; Farenthold might have to move to get into the new CD27), Alonzo’s plan would make the split 21-15 in favor of the Rs. Well, it would have, if it hadn’t gotten voted down along predictably partisan lines, along with Veasey’s plan and a bunch of other Democratic-drawn maps. Still, you can see a full spreadsheet from 2008 here and from 2010 here. What do you think of Alonzo’s plan?

House Redistricting committee approves modified Congressional map

Even quicker than the Senate committee.

The Texas House Redistricting Committee approved a new version of the Congressional map that makes a few tweaks, mainly in North and South Texas. But the overall goal remains the same: Maintain and expand Republican power in Washington.

The map was approved on an 11-5 party line vote in the committee, sending it to the full House. The map looks very much like the one that sailed out of the Senate Monday. But this new version would slightly reduce Hispanic voting strength in the district represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, who faces a potentially stiff re-match in 2012 from former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, a Democrat.

The author of the map, Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, said the change was a response to “concerns of the San Antonio Hispanic community” and is meant to shore up Latino voting strength in the district held by Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio. It does that by taking Latinos from surrounding districts, including District 23 held by Canseco and a newly proposed District 35.

State Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said the changes were designed to protect Canseco, easily the most vulnerable Republican in the Congressional delegation.

“They switched some Hispanic and Anglo voters around to make the district safer for Canseco, and make it easier for Anglo voters to control the district,” Veasey said.

The House version of the map would also switch around some precincts in Tarrant and Denton Counties, changes that Veasey said would help shore up the re-election prospects of U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth.

Postcards has more. I guess I was expecting them to hold a public hearing with testimony or something before they actually voted. Silly me. The new plan is C149. Here’s what the partisan numbers look like now, with comparisons to the original plan and the one that the Senate approved:

C125 C130 C149 C125 C130 C149 Dist Obama Obama Obama Houston Houston Houston ==================================================== 01 30.40 30.47 30.47 37.01 36.39 36.39 02 35.39 35.86 35.86 38.14 36.65 36.65 03 37.37 37.37 37.37 36.79 36.79 36.79 04 29.28 29.28 29.28 37.55 37.55 37.55 05 37.31 37.28 37.21 42.07 42.05 42.01 07 39.32 39.08 39.08 38.10 37.83 37.83 08 25.43 26.08 26.14 28.59 29.40 29.44 11 23.42 23.13 23.13 28.44 28.29 28.29 13 22.24 22.24 22.24 27.48 27.48 27.48 14 34.30 41.96 41.96 39.69 47.31 47.31 19 27.94 27.94 27.94 32.32 32.32 32.32 22 35.80 37.65 37.65 36.92 38.32 38.32 26 39.44 39.33 39.33 39.64 39.64 39.55 06 41.67 41.67 42.51 44.29 44.28 45.44 10 43.81 42.77 42.59 44.14 43.41 43.23 12 42.50 42.50 43.53 43.10 43.10 44.13 17 40.71 40.94 40.94 43.98 44.08 44.08 21 42.51 42.67 42.25 40.48 40.61 40.26 24 40.55 40.54 40.54 39.91 39.91 39.91 25 42.40 42.83 42.73 43.63 43.95 43.54 27 40.78 40.31 40.12 46.28 45.85 45.75 31 42.61 42.61 42.54 42.47 42.47 42.40 32 43.79 43.79 43.80 43.63 43.63 43.67 33 42.64 42.64 41.74 43.90 43.90 42.96 36 41.02 29.58 29.58 47.46 39.30 39.30 23 47.19 47.19 47.14 49.27 49.27 49.18 15 59.15 58.43 56.36 61.90 61.19 58.91 20 58.40 58.47 58.40 58.15 58.34 58.71 34 59.11 60.29 60.52 62.85 63.87 64.10 09 76.42 76.49 76.49 76.77 76.85 76.85 16 66.44 66.44 66.44 68.68 68.68 68.68 18 79.48 79.24 79.57 78.71 78.47 78.73 28 60.40 60.91 62.09 63.33 63.82 65.12 29 65.18 65.40 64.63 70.09 70.29 69.70 30 81.87 81.89 81.89 82.08 82.10 82.10 35 60.70 60.61 61.59 61.16 60.98 61.47

Doesn’t look like Granger got much help to me. Joe Barton’s district also got a little bluer, while Blake Farenthold and Ruben Hinojosa’s got a touch redder. Quico Canseco’s CD23 got just a pinch redder – now only Linda Yanez achieved a majority there for the Dems; Susan Strawn fell short by a handful of votes – but it remains the case that every downballot Dem other than Jim Jordan got at least a plurality. CD23’s SSVR dropped a bit, from 53.65% to 53.40%, while CD20’s Charlie Gonzalez saw his go up from 50.8% to 53.64%. You can see all of the district data here, and of course Greg liveblogged the committee hearing, with salient analysis about how it all ties into the forthcoming litigation. On to the full House from here.