| What the frick. Apparently some of the redistricting plaintiffs split off and are making a deal with Attorney General Greg Abbott that would help some, but not all of the plaintiffs, such that Abbott can deliver a unified GOP primary to his big-money backers.
Here's Abbott's statement:
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today issued the following statement on the proposed interim redistricting maps for Texas' 2012 elections:
"The proposed maps minimize changes to the redistricting plan passed by the Legislature and, as the U. S. Supreme Court required, makes changes only where necessary. The Texas Attorney General's Office has worked with a wide range of interest groups to incorporate reasonable requests from all parties to the extent possible without compromising the will of the Texas Legislature. Even though these proposed interim maps aren't fully supported by all interest groups, modifications have been incorporated based on requests made by all parties. Today's maps should allow the court to finalize the interim redistricting maps in time to have elections in April," Attorney General Abbott said.
The proposed House and Congressional interim redistricting maps are the result of an agreement between the State of Texas and the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force - which includes Texas LULAC, MALDEF, GI Forum, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, Domingo Garcia, The Mexican American Bar Association of Texas, and La Fe Policy Research and Education Center. The proposed Congressional interim redistricting map is also supported by Congressman Henry Cuellar. Although the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC), the Black Legislative Caucus and the NAACP have not agreed to support the proposed maps, those maps include modifications that address some of the primary concerns those plaintiffs raised during negotiations with the State. The proposed maps also reflect consensus among the State leadership - including Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and Speaker Joe Straus.
The maps suck for Democrats, and they basically return us to the partisan gerrymandered nightmare the Legislature drew in the first place. Travis County is split into 5 districts. The 25th becomes a Travis-to-Tarrant monster that was drawn to elect a Republican. Doggett is likely drawn back into the 35th, which again stretches from Austin to San Antonio. Folks on Twitter report that Pete Gallego and Ciro Rodriguez may be drawn back into a district together, the 23rd. Michael Li has links to the maps and data on their past electoral returns on his blog, www.txredistricting.org
In various news reports, a LULAC spokesman said they were not on board. It is unclear if MALDEF is or is not on board.
First in the in-box, Wendy Davis, with a statement that she has NOT agreed to any deal:
"There is no agreement on a Senate map. Rather than meet the concerns of Texas voters, the Texas Attorney General continues to advance the same effort to dilute minority voting strength as we saw attempted in the 82nd Legislative Session. This is not a good faith effort."
Next in the in-box, the Texas Democratic Party, who see Abbott's true political purpose here:
TDP spokesperson Rebecca Acuña released the following statement in response to the redistricting maps released by General Abbott:
"We're greatly disappointed the Attorney General did not deal in good faith with all parties involved.
For the Texas Democratic Party, any maps that do not have the consent of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the Legislative Black Caucus, and other plaintiffs are nonstarters.
The Attorney General is clearly terrified that the DC court will find that the state's maps are discriminatory in both effect and intent. Until there's a legitimate agreement among the parties, we support the court continuing to do its work."
Update: 2:56 p.m. -- MALC is next in the in-box, and they don't support these maps either.
Statement from MALC Chairman Trey Martinez Fischer:
"MALC worked in good faith with General Abbott in hopes of arriving at a compromise that reflected the changing diversity of our state in a manner acceptable to all parties. Unfortunately negotiations stalled when it became apparent some parties in these discussions had a narrow and at times unrealistic view of the evidence presented at trial. The maps proposed by the Attorney General today are a beginning point, not an end.
MALC has maintained from day one that minority rights should not be subordinated in order to facilitate political expediency. We have presented a fair plan that recognizes the growth of the Latino and African American community while at the same time eliminating discriminatory tactics used by the State to disenfranchise the minority community.
As we have said before, MALC and the redistricting plaintiffs have presented a compelling case at trial in both San Antonio and in Washington, D.C. We will not compromise our principles for the sake of expediency and will not be forced into a resolution that fails to recognize the fundamental fact that Texas' growth is minority growth. We are confident that the evidence presented at trial demonstrates that Texas' maps violate both Section 5 and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The Attorney General presents an illusion of an inclusive map; the reality is that it falls short of recognizing minority growth in Texas. For instance in CD 23, the compromise district clearly performs worse than it had in the benchmark map. No one needs to be reminded that the candidate of choice of the minority community failed to win election in the benchmark map in 2010. MALC could not accept a CD 23 that is worse off than it was in the benchmark map, considering that reality. While all the parties support a primary as soon as possible, we want to ensure that Texans have fair and legal redistricting maps. MALC is encouraged that with the issuance of these maps the Attorney General has made it clear that he accepts the growing reality that the maps adopted by the state legislature for the state house, state senate, and United States Congress were constitutionally-flawed and require immediate remedial action."
Update: 3:10 p.m. -- From State Rep. Dawnna Dukes' Facebook Page:
"A.G. cherry picked groups with whom to cut a deal on the redistricting maps to rush for an April primary. The Texas Legislative Black Caucus, Mexican American Legislative Caucus, NAACP and all of the Democractic Congressional Members except Henry Cuellar (who got what he wanted in the Republican drawn maps) were excluded from discussions and did not support the [maps] issued today by A.G. Abbott's office. Travis County was not made whole nor partly whole. It is still divided into five separate congressional districts. Travesty....excluding TLBC, MALC, NAACP, TX LULAC, Gonzales Litigants [which includes Travis County]...this is not a good faith effort on the part of the A.G. to draw agreed upon maps as instructed by the San Anthonio Federal District Court."
Update: 3:23 p.m. -- More commentary on the Congressional map changes, from my own eyeballing and the analysis of folks on Twitter and in the press.
CD-6 was apparently none of Abbott's concern, as the AG ripped into him on a redistricting press call, suggesting that his only concern is keeping the Cowboys stadium in his district. In reality Barton and his lawyer are very worried about the inclusion of more Hispanics in his district, which was already only "Lean Republican." Barton already has two decent Democratic challengers. [via]
CD-10 gets vastly more conservative than the interim maps, with the re-inclusion of ultra right-wing Tomball.
CD-23 gets more Democratic, thus making the winner of the primary, which is currently State Rep. Pete Gallego vs. Some Other Guy, and now potentially Gallego vs. Ex-Congressman Ciro Rodriguez.
CD-27 gets more Hispanic and thus more likely to flip Democratic. It looks like TX Republicans aren't afraid to say "sayonara" to Blake "Ducky Pajamas" Farenthold.
CD-33 goes from a district that was entirely in Tarrant County and favored the winner of the Marc Veasey-Kathleen Hicks primary, to one that spans Dallas and Tarrant, and has more Dallas than Tarrant. This would be a minority opportunity district in North Texas. [via]
Update: 4:17 p.m. -- Michael Li posts filings from plaintiffs who don't agree to Abbott's purported "settlement."
Li reports that LULAC, NAACP, Davis, and the Travis County group told the San Antonio courts today that they did not agree to a deal, and that some of them had not even been contacted by the AG's office about this supposed deal.
The plaintiffs also have a list of House, Senate, and Congressional districts that they have problems with, notably the Central Texas boondoggle, the entirety of South Texas, the entire DFW Metroplex, and specific Congressional districts 23, 27, 30 and 35.
This is good news because the courts will need to take this into account and understand that not all plaintiffs are on board here.
Ok, and now Li is reporting that State Senator Estes, SD-30, wants to intervene in the lawsuit since Abbott's new maps.
Good work, Abbott.
Update 4:31 p.m. -- Twitter Scuttlebutt.
Nolan Hicks of the San Antonio Express-News quotes Gary Bledsoe of the TX NAACP, who says that they may appeal to SCOTUS if the San Antonio panel selects this map. That makes sense, since the maps disenfranchise the African-American communities in Austin and to a degree in Tarrant County.
Quorum Report says the Court (which one?) has told the parties in redistricting to "keep negotiating."
Steve Rivas points out that only only would these maps cut Travis County in 5, they would cut the City of Austin into 6 Congressional districts. (Chunks of Austin are in Hays and Williamson Counties.)
Update 4:45 p.m. -- MALDEF Likes It, San Antonio Courts Say No Dice
Per Michael Li:
The San Antonio court entered an order this afternoon telling parties that the court's scheduling orders would remain in place "in the absence of a general agreement between all Plaintiffs and the State of Texas."
In short, it does not appear the court is inclined - at this time at least - to move up its schedule for drawing interim maps unless the parties can reach a complete agreement.
Under the court's previously announced schedule, a hearing on interim maps is set for Wednesday, February 15, at 8 a.m.
Also, MALDEF issued a statement supporting the maps, which is posted on BOR here.
Update 4:58 p.m. -- Lone Star Project Sends Update
The Lone Star Project emailed out a key update on the filing by several plaintiffs (NAACP, Travis Co., Davis) opposing Abbott's maps. Here's the key quote from the plaintiffs' filing, highlighted by the email:
Excerpt from Plaintiffs Advisory in opposition to AG's Proposal:
"We understand that the Court indicated in its February 2nd order that, if the April 3 primary was to remain in place, "all parties" should submit an agreed interim map by today. That will not be happening. None of the parties to this submission has joined in or has any plans to join in any proposed agreement with the state, in the person of the Texas Attorney General, as to interim maps for the districting plans at issue in this dispute. Some have been contacted by the Office of the Texas Attorney General about discussing potential areas of agreement; others have not been contacted in that regard at all. In any event, no agreement has been reached, and none is foreseeable.
That makes it pretty clear that there is no agreement and we likely can't have our April 3rd primary, since there is no agreed-upon map, and the San Antonio court has asked all parties to continue negotiating, in advance of the February 15th court date.
Other key points from the Lone Star Project:
- Under the AG's plan, minorities can elect the candidate of their choice in only 11 of 36 districts, down from 11 of 32 in our current map. That's a decrease from 34.4 to 30.5, and therefore doesn't accommodate minority population growth.
- Rep. Henry Cuellar, the one Democratic congressperson who signed on with the deal, supported Tom DeLay's redistricting efforts in 2001 and 2003.
Also, Burka says that only 1 of 10 redistricting attorneys has signed on to this plan. So, it sounds like no deal after all.
Ok, last update, I swear.
This is the last update for now. We'll have additional coverage elsewhere on BOR.