First draft of Congressional map of Texas Protects Incumbents

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Tyler Dyer, News Editor

This Monday, Texas lawmakers released the first draft of a new congressional map that would essentially protect incumbents while reducing the number of districts in which Black and Hispanic residents make up the majority of eligible voters. Critics say it is an attempt by Republicans who control the redistricting process to blunt the political power of the voters of color, especially Latinos, who fuel the state’s growth. 

This map diminishes the number of districts dominated by people of color despite Texas gaining two more congressional seats. The population of Asian, Black, and Hispanic Texans outpaced white Texans over the last decade. However, draft maps introduced Monday by state Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston who chairs the Senate’s redistricting special committee, account for 4 million new residents — half of them Latino. 

While the map does strengthen Republican positioning overall in Texas, going from 22 to 25 districts that would have voted for Donald Trump in 2020. The number of congressional districts that voted for Joe Biden would have shrunk by one, from 14 to 13. While many incumbents appear safe in these maps, others were drawn into districts that overlap. For example, the proposed map pits Houston Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw against Democrat Rep. Sylvia Garcia. It also pits two Houston Democrats Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee against each other. 

Republicans have made gains among some Hispanic voters in Texas recently, but experts say race is still a strong predictor of voting patterns. Texas’ current maps with 36 House seats consist of 22 districts with majorities of white voters, eight districts with Hispanic majorities, and one with a Black majority; five districts have no majority. The Senate’s proposed map, with 38 House seats, would consist of 23 districts with white majorities, seven with Hispanic majorities, and none with a Black majority. Eight districts would have no racial majority.  

“It’s almost breathtaking in terms of aggressiveness towards communities of color, who provided 95 percent of Texas population growth last decade, yet there are no new minority opportunities on the map,” said Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.