UPDATE: HD33 in Corpus Christi elected a Republican? This blog previously reported that Rep. Raul Torres (R-Corpus Christi) is a popular Democrat. Apparently he is neither. I regret the error and corrected the post accordingly.
House redistricting committee chair Burt Solomons’ proposed state House district map was published this evening (PLANH133), and the dread certainly was justified. Williamson County, after record growth in the last decade, was entitled to two full state House districts and about half of a third. The one-third that Republican map-makers carved is a serpentine strip running along the Travis-Williamson county line from one end to the other, at some points dwindling to a strip of land just large enough for the Dell headquarters — one quarter mile.
To either end of this meandering strip of real estate, Solomons attached Milam and Burnet counties, bringing the total population of the brand new 110-mile wide House District 149 to 167,059 residents. Although the strip from Williamson County is narrow, it cuts through some of our most densely populated and minority communities. About 30 percent of the nearly 100 thousand Williamson County residents in the proposed HD149 are Hispanic or African-American.
Solomons’ map, should it eventually pass, would result in denying those 100 thousand Williamson County residents a voice, because whichever Republican moves into the district to run for it will be able to count on the rural portions of the bulging ends of this dumbbell-shaped monstrosity to deliver an easy 10-point victory, if they vote in 2012 as they did in 2010.
Williamson County, or at least the sliver of it that has been slashed away and paired with two rural counties, was one of the biggest losers in Solomons’ disgraceful map, but the atrocities do not stop there. In Houston, Rep. Scott Hochberg (D-137) and Rep. Hubert Vo (D-149) were drawn into a single elongated district in southwest Harris County. And in Corpus Christi, Rep. Raul Torres (R-33) was squeezed into the same district with Rep. Connie Scott (R-34), the map lines reaching out carefully to carve out Torres’ neighborhood.
Those who justify this take-no-prisoners, extremely partisan redistricting process by declaring it one of the spoils of victory are oblivious to the damage their power grabbing is doing to our democracy. The Great Recession has disproportionately hit working families, Latino and African-American communities harder than the rest of the population. If you were barely making ends meet in 2007, you’re now either out of work, or facing cut-backs and benefit reductions, longer hours and more stress. The base of the Democratic party is too beleaguered by economic terror to exercise its political might at the ballot box, as evidenced by the anemic voter turnout in Nov. 2010 among these constituencies.
This map further disenfranchises the majority of hard working Americans, who depend upon an education system that is being dismantled and sold for scrap by a crew of millionaires whose kids go to private school, and their pathological fundamentalist homeschooling minions. Republicans made up about 15 percent of the voting age population in 2010, but through their endless maze of disenfranchisement: making it harder to register, harder to vote, and slicing them into districts that lean Republican; then flooding the right-wing candidate with political contributions from Bob Perry and James Leininger, it is no wonder that our voices continue to be drowned out at the ballot box.