Proposed Texas map adds two new congressional districts to Austin, Houston
Texas lawmakers are looking to carve out two new congressional districts in the Austin and Houston areas, according to a proposed redistricting map released on Monday.
The map, which was proposed by state Sen. Joan Huffman (R), would effectively lock in Republicans’ long-held advantage in Texas for another decade, reducing the number of competitive districts in favor of an incumbent protection strategy.
Twenty-three of Texas’s 36 congressional districts are currently represented by Republicans, with the rest by Democrats. Under the proposed map, the GOP would be in position to widen its advantage, creating 25 districts where voters broke for former President Trump and 13 that voted for President Biden.
Texas gained two new districts in the 2020 census, with metropolitan areas such as those around Austin and Houston responsible for much of the state’s population gain.
While the proposed map seeks to protect many incumbents from facing competitive reelection bids, it could create headaches for some members.
For example, it would pit Democratic Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green against one another. Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s (R) district would overlap with that of Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D).
The proposed map would also put Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D), who narrowly won reelection last year, in a more competitive district. Meanwhile, other incumbents such as Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) would represent safer districts than their current ones.
Republicans have long held the reins of power in Texas. But Democrats have challenged the GOP more aggressively in recent years, motivated by a series of close races and the suburban shift toward their party.
If approved, however, the proposed map would help protect incumbents on both sides of the aisle, narrowing the number of competitive districts in play.
The maps unveiled on Monday are just drafts, meaning they could still change before winning final approval and being sent to Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) desk.
This will mark the first round of redistricting in Texas since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision doing away with the requirement that certain states get federal approval when making changes to election laws or congressional maps.