(Readers have been asking us for more coverage of the TX-35 Democratic primary. Here is a perspective from an Austin voter and reader on the race. - promoted by Karl-Thomas Musselman)
By John-Michael Vincent Cortez
I am a young, Latino elected official - and I want to see more Latinos, especially young ones, in elected office at all levels of government. Not only is an increase in Latino representation warranted given our demographic reality, but it is also generally in the best interest of having a government that substantively represents the communities it serves. However, in the case of the newly created Congressional District 35, I argue that Hispanic community interests could not be more substantively and effectively represented than they are currently by Congressman Lloyd Doggett. For this, and many other reasons, if this travesty of Republican gerrymandering is to stand, I firmly believe Congressman Doggett is the best candidate to represent CD35 in Washington.
Despite my strong support of Doggett, until very recently, I did not begrudge Joaquin Castro for his efforts to take advantage of this terrible situation created by another Republican power grab by announcing his intent to run in CD35. However, I am now terribly disappointed by recent reports of Castro's involvement along side the very Republicans who have essentially disenfranchised me, my neighbors, and many communities all the way down to Bexar County. As a result, my support of Doggett is firmer still, and I hope you will join me.
I always found it odd that Castro and many of his supporters were justifying his challenge to Congressman Doggett by claiming that he would be more effective than Lloyd, because Castro knew best how to get along with Republicans. Well, most folks I know want someone who will stand up to Republican extremism, not go along with it. However, I previously felt that Castro's claims to be strongly opposed to the GOP congressional map were believable - no committed Democrat could justifiably support this plan that illegally divides communities across Texas. However, we now know that this purported opposition was only superficial, as Castro worked hand-in-hand with Republicans to draw the most favorable district for himself, no matter how many of us were harmed.
At the recent trial in Federal Court in San Antonio, Republicans actually used Castro's involvement as part of their defense against Democratic claims that this redistricting plan is illegal. Republicans essentially said: "Hey, it was not Republicans alone who drew this map to which you Democrats are objecting, we were just following the advice of Democratic State Rep. Castro (and his friend, Redistricting Committee Vice Chair Rep. Mike Villareal)." Castro wanted this crooked District carving up neighborhoods in San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Lockhart and Austin. Then he asked that this area be carved up a little more to add what he thought would be even more favorable additional territory in San Antonio along with symbolic locations like the Alamo.
Why are parts of San Marcos, Kyle and Lockhart consigned to Tea Party Republican Lamar Smith or Blake Farenthold? Why are the people of East Austin and the Eastside of San Antonio and Harlandale split up to weaken the strength of their voices? Because the only community of interest Castro seemed to care about was his own interest when he reached out to GOP map drawers to draw himself into Congress. One small step forward for Castro, but one lamentable step backwards for our Hispanic communities generally.