Now this is very good news if it plays out the way The Hill seems to think it will: Texas Republicans are basically looking to settle their redistricting case with the DoJ, which would have to include approval by the minority representation groups that are the plaintiffs, that would give the state a number of new districts that would be won by Dems.
“They’re backed up against the wall and have to come to some agreement and it’ll be awfully favorable on our end,” said one of the plaintiffs in the case.
Another plaintiff agreed. “It’s clear they know they’re in a vulnerable position and that’s why they want to settle,” he said.
Any settlement would need to get the multiple minority group plaintiffs on board, and would create more majority-Hispanic and majority-African American congressional districts. Two of the plaintiffs predicted that an agreement will be reached early next week.
That’s pretty much a massive capitulation by Republicans in the state, who purposely drew the four new districts in the state legislature to favor Republicans precisely by splitting Latino and African-American neighborhoods across district lines and using pencil thin lines to connect them to overwhelmingly red districts, assuring that at least three of the four new districts would be safe GOP seats for the next decade.
But the DoJ gets ultimate veto power over this sort of thing for states like Texas, and that decision by a three-judge panel is expected soon. Texas Republicans are apparently so terrified of this that (especially after the Supreme Court punted the map back to Texas to work it out as a state issue) they are begging for a settlement before the DoJ takes them out back with a two by four and a grim expression.
If the state of Texas and the plaintiffs in the case reach an agreement it would solve a drawn out process with two separate lower court battles and a Supreme Court opinion already on the books.
Texas is gaining four seats in Congress and will have 36 total House seats next election. Most of the state’s population growth has come from African Americans and Hispanics, but the Republican state legislators who drew the maps gave the groups few new opportunities in the state.
Any agreement would lead to a minimum of 13 Democratic-leaning seats, and possibly a fourteenth seat depending on how the districts in Fort Worth are drawn.
With conservative former Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) running for a Galveston-area seat, Democrats could win as many as 14 or 15 seats in the state, up from the nine seats they currently hold. Republicans would hold 21 or 22 seats, down from the 23 they currently have.
Dems picking up 5 to 6 House seats in Texas would go a long, long way towards regaining the House in 2012. Republicans know this and they’re looking to settle anyway, which shows you just how bad they think their position is in respect to the three-judge pre-clearance panel.
On the other hand, the districts that Texas is gaining is coming at the expense of states like Ohio and New York, and ultimately one of the reasons that I think the GOP is looking to take the settlement here is that they know redistricting Dem districts out of existence in other states they control like Missouri and Louisiana (and in Ohio especially) will make Texas into a wash at best for the Donks, especially given that GOP-controlled SC and Georgia are getting a new district and Florida two. They were going for all the marbles in the redistricting pile, and they’ll have to settle for merely half as a losing proposition, which was the point of the entire exercise given the level of state control handed to the GOP in 2010.
And once again we come back to the fact that voters picked a really awful time to give the Republicans more power by deciding President Obama and the Dems hadn’t moved fast enough in Operation Ponycorn With Sprinkles. The repercussions of that nonsense will be felt for, well, a decade.