Friday, November 18, 2011

San Antonio Court Proposes Speaker Reelection Map

The three judge panel proposed interim redistricting maps for the Texas House and Senate late yesterday and gave the parties until Noon today to file comments and/or objections.  At first blush, it appears that the Democrats will pick up about ten seats in the Texas House under the court map, and that Sen. Wendy Davis will become a favorite for reelection in SD 10.  The partisan balance of the 83rd Legislature likely would be +/- 90 Republicans - 60 Democrats in the Texas House, and 19 Republicans - 12 Democrats in the Texas Senate.
Twelve House incumbents are paired, although with announced retirements, plans to run for another office, or residence relocation, the actual incumbent pairings appear to be two:  Hunter (R) and Morrison (R) in HD 32; and Scott and Torres in HD 33.  Three other Republican incumbents look to be in trouble because their district becomes significantly more Hispanic:  Aaron Pena in HD 40; Dee Margo in HD 78; and Ken Legler in HD 144.  There are thirteen open seats.
Assuming that the proposed maps are in place for the 2012 elections, immediate winners appear to be:
    • Speaker Straus -- He is much more insulated against an attack from the right with a 90 - 60 House than in a 101 - 49 House.
    • A Senate presiding officer to replace Lt. Gov. Dewhurst selected by both Democrats and Republicans, instead of only the Senate Republican Caucus.
    • Gaming -- The more Democrats in the legislature, the better the chances for gaming in 2013.
    • Texas Trial Lawyers Association -- They will be in a stronger position to combat Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
    • Texans for Secure Retirement -- Efforts to eliminate defined benefit plans for public employees in Texas will face a much more uphill battle.
The court will issue a congressional map shortly, and it seems to be the next shoe to drop.  The Republican legislature divided the four new congressional seats 3R - 1D, while preserving seats for Congressmen Canseco and Farenthold.  It would not surprise me for the court map to divide the new seats 3D - 1R, and for the court to imperil the reelection chances of Canseco and Farenthold.
Filing for office begins November 28 and ends December 15.  Residency for Texas House and Senate seats will now be required to be established by December 15 (instead of November 6).  Especially for the Texas House, fire up those moving vans!