Doggett: Texas GOP’s redistricting plan aims to eliminate white Dems

Texas Republicans are expected to ram through a redistricting map that could eliminate the district of one of state’s remaining white Democrats, and he says it is all part of the GOP plan. 

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D), who represents Austin, would see his liberal-leaning constituency sliced into five other districts under the redistricting proposal making its way through the special session of the State Legislature. Doggett says the intention of the GOP majority in the Legislature was to ensure that “no Anglo Democrats are coming from Texas.”

“That’s just part of the plan,” the nine-term Democrat said of the map drawn for the state’s new 36-seat delegation.

Texas picked up four seats in the reapportionment after 2010’s census. Republicans currently hold a 23-9 edge in the state’s House delegation.

“The Republican Party is determined to make the Democratic Party a party of minorities — that is what this is about, as well,” Doggett told The Hill. “You don’t come in and deny the capital city an opportunity to have a district that reflects the capital city.”

The Texas redistricting plan is the latest blow in a series of defeats for white Southern Democrats. In 2010, the GOP won 22 House seats in the states that make up the Old Confederacy, including Texas. Those losses came, in part, because white voters preferred Republican candidates by almost two-to-one in the midterms. Redistricting could make it harder for the region’s remaining white Democratic House members to survive the next election.

Doggett is expected to face the dilemma of running in the newly Republican-leaning 25th district, where his home is, or moving to run in the newly created 35th district that stretches from the southern suburbs of Austin to San Antonio.

Rep. Gene Green, Texas’s only other white Democrat serving in the House, saw his Houston-area district largely unchanged by the GOP’s redistricting plan. 

Doggett said he’s waiting to see the final map, which will be determined after court challenges, but didn’t rule out running in the 35th district. 

“I’ve already been down to San Antonio to have a series of meetings with people there to be prepared if that’s what the court ultimately says is the form of the district,” he said.

Texas’s population grew by 4.2 million in the last decade, to some 25 million at the time of the 2010 census. Hispanics accounted for 65 percent of that growth. But instead of creating two majority-Hispanic districts and two Republican-favoring districts out of the new four House seats allocated to Texas, the state GOP put itself in a position to win three out of the four.

“That’s quite an in-your-face-approach to the growth of the Hispanic population in Texas,”  said Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.

The state’s minority populations are expected to be concentrated in 10 or 11 Democratic-leaning districts.

The current redistricting plan is being challenged in court for possible violations of the Voting Rights Act and could be changed before its implementation. 

Doggett said the Republicans’ intention is clear.

“They do not want Anglo Democrats representing any part of Texas,” Doggett said. “They went after [former Democratic Reps.] Martin Frost and Chet Edwards, and I’m the third one they have sought to eliminate.

“They’re trying to complete the task that [Republican former House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay’s staff set out for them.”

DeLay infamously pushed state lawmakers to redraw Texas’s lines in 2003, which helped Republicans take a majority of the state’s House seats. There were 10 White Democrats in the state’s delegation in 2002. Doggett and Green are the only two who remain. 

Doggett said he’s expecting a successful legal challenge to the plan.

“I’m expecting a court to determine that this map that will likely pass the Legislature violates the Voting Rights Act,” he said. “I expect that the map we will run in will be different than the one that they are drawing in a way that denies voting rights to a growing Hispanic population and sticks a dagger in the heart of my hometown.”

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