Friday, May 6, 2011

Texas House Redistricting Plans, Do you still have the same REP?

Well, as I talked about in my post, Gerrymandering:  What is it and What can YOU do about it, it's Redistricting Season.  The Texas House just passed a redistricting plan for new state house districts.
Check out the redistricting maps to see the difference between current districts and district boundaries for the next legislative election, select the current state house districts map for the base plan and the HB 150 second reading and passed map for the overlay plan.

The district with the biggest boundary change is Speaker of the House Joe Straus' (R) District 121.  As I compared the boundary lines I first noticed that Trinity University is cut out of Joe Straus' District 121 and dropped down into Dem district 120 (Ruth McClendon Jones (D)) but then moves east to include Incarnate Word, a catholic university that is likely more conservative, also a lot of retired nuns and clergy live on the campus. East Terrill Hills was also dropped into District 120 and pretty much everything east of the Austin Hwy north of Rittiman Rd, and everything east of Randolph Blvd.

The weirdest new line drawn for District 121 sort of splits Devout Rd. then travels north through flood plain to Stahl Rd.  What's really bizarre about this line is some on the houses on Devout could potentially be split in half, thus not following any kind of boundary that makes sense.  Also, St. Helena's Catholic Church and the Archbishop's Chancery, just off Devout, didn't quite make it into the 121 boundary, HUH??  The line then continues on and cuts out everything south of Stahl and east of Judson, until it reaches Loop 1604 to capture the existing district until it reaches the railroad tracks that run from 1604 up to Wagon Rd and cuts out everything south of the tracks, I guess it was the wrong side.

The northern part of District 121 is pretty much the same until it gets to Cibolo Vista and cuts into the previous District 122, another Republican stronghold held by Lyle Larson.  Another odd boundary change has the northern boundary of 121 going along the TPC Pkwy until it hits Waterhole Ln in Cibolo Canyon, grabbing 2 houses and three vacant lots and then curving up to Marshall Rd, again I say, HUH??  Why not just continue on TPC Pkwy, turn right on Bulverde Rd and then left on Marshall, and avoid this oddity?  The abutting district is 122, such a solid Republican bastion that the new boundaries for 117 (John V Garza) and 121, the only other two Republican districts in Bexar County, cut into it, supposedly to take advantage of all those conservative voters.  District 121 then continues to take a pretty big chunk out of 122 as it travels south down US 281 to about Sandau Rd, where it starts to take over part of Democratic district 123 (Mike Villareal), encompassing the Airport and the Broadway area north of Loop 410.

Lyle Larson's District 122 seems to be the district to lose the most territory, only gaining a small portion of Republican district 117 north of Loop 1604.  This actually makes geographical sense, because before 117 sort of jutted up slightly into otherwise 122 territory.

Republican District 117 ceded territory inside Loop 1604 to Democratic Districts 116 (Trey Martinez Fischer), 125 (Joaquin Castro) and 124 (Joe Menendez) and territory inside Loop 410 to Dem District 118 (Joe Farias).  But then in south Bexar County, 117 takes over large swaths of the rural area of District 118.  Most rural areas tend to be more conservative.

Most of the Democrat districts remain about the same size territorially, but shift to the west and south to make room for Republican District 121.  By doing this, Republican lawmakers have made their existing districts more conservative, thus ensuring reelection.  Actually, making District 121 stronger is good for San Antonio, as long as Joe Straus remains Speaker of the House.  This gives San Antonio a lot more power in regional decisions.

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