Redistricting Update VI: New Maps Proposed
AUSTIN - On Monday afternoon, Attorney General Greg Abbott announced an agreement with some of the plaintiffs to the Texas redistricting lawsuit. In a released statement on Monday, the Attorney General indicated support from a significant number of plaintiffs' groups, including: Texas LULAC, MALDEF, GI Forum, The Mexican American Bar Association of Texas, La Fe Policy Research and Education Center, Hispanics Organized for Political Education (HOPE), the National Organization for Mexican American Rights, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, the William C. Velasquez Institute, Southwest Workers' Union, and other plaintiffs collectively known as the "Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force." With respect to the U.S. Congress, the Attorney General was also able to reach an agreement with Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar.
The Attorney General has posted the proposed maps online which are agreed to by these plaintiffs. The Republican Party of Texas has been closely analyzing these proposed lines. If the court agrees to enact these interim maps, the proposal should enable the Republican Party to have an excellent chance at preserving all of the Congressional seats we won in 2010, and would also provide a very strong chance at picking up an additional couple of Congressional seats from the four Texas has gained through reapportionment. This is an improvement over the maps originally issued by the San Antonio three-judge panel. Under those maps, there was a possibility that the Republican Party would not win any of the new four seats, and Republicans also faced a possibility of losing one or two of our existing incumbents.
In regards to proposed maps for the Texas House of Representatives, the proposal preserves the ability of the Republican Party to achieve a solid majority in that body. RPT staff has analyzed the maps over the past few hours and believe that there will be 96 State House districts with an average GOP vote of 50% or better (using vote totals for the 2008 Presidential Election.) Thus, the new proposed maps represent an improvement over the court-issued maps, with fewer Republican seats at risk than the lines drawn by the San Antonio three-judge panel last year.
On the State Senate side, there is really only one district in dispute - that being SD 10 with Democratic Senator Wendy Davis. A trial is already scheduled this week on that district, so hopefully the court will be in a position to issue a ruling early next week and issue a new State Senate map in time for there to be a single unified primary in April.
While these are only proposed maps at the present time, the filing of them greatly increases the chances that there will still be a single unified primary in mid-April. It is the Republican Party of Texas' position that even if maps are not agreed to by all parties, that the Court now has sufficient information as to the respective positions of all parties so as to allow the Court to issue final maps in time for a single unified primary in mid-April. The RPT filed an advisory this morning to this effect, a copy of which is linked here.
Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri issued the following statement, relative to these developments. "I believe these lines are a substantial improvement overall when compared to the maps initially released by the San Antonio three-judge panel overseeing redistricting. These proposed maps do have some substantial differences from the originally drawn legislative maps. The unanimous Supreme Court ruling in January stated that the legislative maps (prior to preclearance) and the San Antonio three-judge panel maps were both unable to be used in the 2012 Texas primary, but the Supreme Court also said that the legislative maps needed to be a starting point. As the Attorney General announced today, this agreement complies with the Supreme Court's criteria, while at the same time preserving the opportunity for Republicans to make gains in the Congressional delegation and to preserve our solid majority in the State Legislature."
Munisteri continued, "I am hopeful that the San Antonio three-judge panel will rule in a timely fashion on these new proposed maps, so that our candidates can have certainty and so that we can move forward with a unified primary. I am particularly hopeful that we can still have a Presidential primary prior to any candidates obtaining a majority of delegates necessary for nomination, and that Texas can still have a significant voice in the Republican Presidential primary process.
Advisory to all Republican county chairmen, precinct chairmen, and party activists - It appears as though today's developments make it unlikely that there will be an April 3rd Primary. However, it is increasingly likely that there will be a single unified primary in mid-April. If the three-judge panel acts swiftly on these new proposed maps, it is still possible for an April unified primary to occur. Therefore, we recommend you still make preliminary preparations for a primary sometime in the second or third week of April. We still cannot definitively tell you when the primary will occur, but we expect there to be additional announcements within the next week, so please be on the lookout for additional emails and leadership advisories.