New Texas redistricting map endangers Reps. Canseco, Doggett

A Texas court has released the new interim redistricting maps for the state, giving both Democrats and Republicans a little of what they want and potentially endangering Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Francisco Canseco (R-Texas).

The new map is a major improvement for Democrats and Hispanics from the one originally proposed by the GOP, but isn't as good for them as an initial court-drawn map that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

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A District of Columbia court will still have to sign off on this plan, but those close to the legal negotiations say it has a better than even chance of holding up. Those are much higher odds than any other plan has had.

The political ramifications of the map are a new heavily minority district near Dallas that will likely be won by a Democrat and a restoration of Canseco's district lines, making it Democratic-leaning.

Because of that change, Canseco will have an uphill battle to win the seat. He would have had a better chance under the GOP's original map.

Doggett also could suffer from the new plan. Like the original GOP map, it shatters his Austin district and draws the heart of it into a Hispanic-majority district stretching all the way to San Antonio. Doggett will likely face a primary challenge from a Hispanic Democrat, if not this year then in the future.

"As an effective advocate for schools, veterans, healthcare and retirement security, my service fits well with the neighborhoods that have now been joined from South San Antonio to North Austin," Doggett said in a statement after the maps came out. "I will continue the visits with working families that I already have underway. And I will continue to stand up to Rick Perry and other extremists, whose misguided policies are threatening our families' security."

The likely partisan composition of the new map would give Democrats 11 seats and a good shot at 12 if they can beat Canseco, up from the nine seats they currently have. Republicans will have 24 seats and Canseco might be able to hold on to a 25th. Currently, Republicans have 23 seats and Democrats have nine.

Texas gained four congressional seats from reapportionment, giving it 36 total districts. Most of the state's population growth came from minorities. Republican legislators in the state overreached with their redistricting plan, likely violating the Voting Rights Act which protects minority voters. This has led to a long and convoluted legal drama that is playing out in courts in both Texas and Washington, D.C.

The federal decision is still pending on Texas's original plan, but that map is almost certain to be struck down. The interim map is a variation on that plan, and is similar to a compromise Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) reached with some of the Hispanic groups in the lawsuit.

Even if this plan stands, the legal chaos is far from over — this is just an interim plan, and the Supreme Court may weigh in on the Voting Rights Act in the next year and could strike down the portions requiring Texas to get its maps cleared with the federal government. 

This post was updated at 9:10 a.m. on Wednesday.