Search

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen: Start Your Engines!


To have a political race, you need a finish line and a race course.  We are now close to having both for Texas congressional and legislative seats.  Although a final court order has not been issued (possibly today), it looks like:
  • The finish line for the Texas primary will be May 29 with a July 31 runoff.
  • Filing for all offices will reopen this week on Friday, March 2, and close on Tuesday, March 6.
  • Early voting will begin May 14.
In other words, this will be a drag race instead of the Daytona 500.
A word about the race course.  If you look at it through the prism of the 2008 election results it appears one way; if you view it through the 2010 elections it appears another.  For example, Democrats consider Congressional District 23 held by Congressman Quico Canseco to be a viable pick-up opportunity.  In 2008, Sen. McCain received 49.3% of the vote in CD 23 to 49.9% for President Obama.  However, in 2010 the average percentage of the vote for Republican statewide candidates in CD 23 was 55.39%.  When someone quotes you numbers for a district, make sure you know whether they are referring to 2008 or 2010 election results.  It makes a big difference.
Now, for the pre-race analysis.
Congressional
The Texas congressional delegation is currently 23 Republicans and 9 Democrats.  The interim map shores up Republican Congressmen Canseco and Farenthold, and in essence splits the 4 new congressional seats as 2 Republican and 2 Democratic.  The Republicans will be favored to have 25 seats after the 2012 elections, and the Democrats 11.
Senate
The only seat in partisan contention is SD 10 held by Sen. Wendy Davis.  Essentially, she has the same seat to run in that she won in 2008.  However, it is still a marginally Republican seat.  In 2008, Sen. McCain carried the seat 52.1% to 47.1% over President Obama.
House
In January 2011, there were 101 Republicans in the Texas House and 49 Democrats.  Under the interim map, my initial reaction is that there will likely be 92 or 93 Republicans elected in 2012.  The Democrats will pick up 8 or 9 seats, but the House will still be overwhelmingly Republican.
Lastly, expect some filing surprises in the next 6 days.  I am hearing that a few incumbents who expected an easy race may find themselves having to burn rubber in the next 89 days!

Monday, February 27, 2012

We are Inching Closer to Maps

The San Antonio court has requested that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party submit an advisory to the court by 2 p.m. Wednesday detailing proposed procedural deadlines for a May 29 election, and what Texas Election Code provisions will need to be waived to accomplish this primary date and delegate selection process.  With the March 3 deadline looming, it looks like we may be seeing maps Thursday or Friday.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Texas Redistricting: Where Are We?


All of the hearings and briefings have concluded, and we are simply waiting on the  courts to rule.  A three judge D.C. court is considering whether the legislature’s maps comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).  A three judge San Antonio court is determining whether the legislature’s maps comply with Section 2 of the VRA and are otherwise constitutional.
D.C. Court
The D.C. court has previously indicated that it would not issue a ruling before March at the earliest.  It is clear that the D.C. court will find that the maps do not comply with Section 5.  It is unknown how many VRA violations the court will find and whether the court will specify how the affected districts are to be redrawn.  The plaintiffs, comprised of minority and Democratic groups, are anxious for the D.C. court to rule before the San Antonio court issues maps, because they believe the D.C. court will be more favorable to their position than the San Antonio court.
San Antonio Court
The San Antonio court has strongly encouraged and prodded the parties to settle their differences so that the court could issue agreed maps.  The parties did agree on the State Senate map, but it is clear they are unable to reach a settlement regarding the Texas House or Congressional seats.
Accordingly, the San Antonio court is drawing interim maps.  The court previously indicated that the primary election would be May 29 at the earliest.  Testimony from election officials indicated they need maps by March 3 in order to have a May 29 election.  The Supreme Court has instructed the court to give deference to the legislature’s district lines except where 1) legal challenges under the Constitution or VRA Section 2 are shown to have a “likelihood of success”; or 2) there is a “not insubstantial” chance that aspects of the legislature’s map will fail under VRA Section 5 review.
Two Possible Scenarios
(1)  The San Antonio court does not wait on the D.C. court to rule, but rather issues interim maps by March 3 (Saturday week) and schedules the primary election for May 29 with the runoff July 31.  The court has indicated that it will also reopen candidate filing for some period of time.  The problem with this scenario is that we will subsequently get a ruling from the D.C. court regarding Section 5 pre-clearance, and that ruling may not comport with how the San Antonio court drew the lines.

(2)  The San Antonio court waits on the D.C. court to rule, and then incorporates that ruling when it issues an interim map.  However, given the D.C. court has previously indicated it would not issuing a ruling until March at the earliest, it means we would not have a May 29 primary.  The next likely date would June 26, with the runoff late August or early September.
Scenario (1) appears to me to be the most likely based on what I am seeing and hearing.  I am hopeful that we will see interim maps either this week or next, resulting in a May 29 election.  If that doesn’t happen, no telling when the Texas primary will be.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Proposed Senate Map

Only 5 North Texas districts change under the proposed settlement map from General Abbott.  Below are the districts and their voting percentages from the 2008 Presidential election:


Dist.
Incumbent
McCain
Obama
9
(Harris)
54.7
44.4
10
Davis
52.5
46.7
12
Nelson
63.9
35.3
22
Birdwell
66.2
33
30
Estes
71
27.8


Under the 2008 lines, Sen. Davis' district voted 52.1% for McCain and 47.1% for Obama, so it is slightly improved for the Republicans and remains a marginally Republican district.  The other 26 Senate districts remain unchanged.

Harris Co. State Rep. Districts under Proposed Settlement

Attorney General Abbott has released proposed interim maps that are agreed to by some, but not all, of the parties to the redistricting litigation.  The San Antonio court still must rule on the maps.  If the court adopts the proposed maps, Harris County would have 24 State Representative seats:  12 Democratic and 12 Republican.  Below are the vote percentages for each district from the 2008 Presidential election:


Dist.
Incumbent
McCain
Obama
126
Harless
61.9
34.4
127
Huberty
67.8
31.4
128
W. Smith
69.9
29.4
129
J. Davis
62.3
36.8
130
Fletcher
74
25.3
131
Allen
17.9
81.7
132
Callegari
59.7
39.6
133
Murphy
65
34.2
134
Davis
54.4
44.6
135
Elkins
60.6
38.7
136
Vo
34.9
64.5
137
Open
43.6
55.5
138
Bohac
59.3
39.8
139
Turner
23.4
75.6
140
Walle
33.2
66.2
141
Thompson
14.4
85.3
142
Dutton
21.3
78.3
143
Luna
35.2
64.1
144
Legler
51
48
145
Alvarado
42
57.1
146
Miles
21.3
78.2
147
Coleman
18.9
80.3
148
Farrar
41.4
57.4
150
Riddle
67.6
31.7

Beverly Woolley's seat becomes Hubert Vo's 136; Sarah Davis receives a moderately Republican district; and Ken Legler's seat remains marginally Republican.  The HD 136 Republican Primary race (DeAyala, Holm, Schofield, Witt) goes away, and the HD 137 Democratic Primary (Madden, Smith, Winkler, Wu) is off and running!