Marilyn Tennissen Feb. 29, 2012, 9:19am
SAN ANTONIO – It looks like the Texas primary elections will be held on May 29 now that federal judges in San Antonio released new redistricting maps on Tuesday afternoon.
In light of the State's legal arguments, the San Antonio court only modified the Legislatively enacted plan in response to alleged Voting Rights Act violations -- while leaving virtually all other districts as they were drawn by the Legislature. In doing so, the court properly rejected the demands by some plaintiffs to draw drastic and overreaching interim maps.
Attorney General Greg Abbott said these maps are much closer to those originally approved by the Texas Legislature last year.
"I consider these interim maps to be a substantial improvement over the maps previously issued by the San Antonio court," he said. "The court properly rejected demands by some plaintiffs to draw drastic and over-reaching maps."
Abbott's office stated that in the Texas House of Representatives Map, Tarrant and Dallas counties are restored to the legislatively enacted map, county line rule is protected and coalition districts in Bell and Fort Bend counties are rejected.
In the Congressional Map, Congressional Districts 25 and 35 are restored as drawn by the Texas Legislature, and CD23 is as approved by House and Senate leadership.
The new Senate map is the same as final maps negotiated by the state and approved by Senate leadership. The new interim map restores Senate District 10 to the same makeup as the benchmark.
Gov. Rick Perry said he was happy the state could proceed with its elections, he stood by the first maps drawn by the Texas Legislature.
"While we believe the original maps drawn by the Texas Legislature were fair and legal, I am pleased we finally have maps that enable us to proceed with our elections.
"As the Supreme Court has agreed, the federal court in San Antonio overstepped its boundaries when it took it upon itself to draw new maps. Had the federal court done it correctly to begin with, the time, costs and inconvenience to our state could have been avoided, and we would be having our elections on schedule."
The Republican Party of Texas says it has analyzed the maps, and has come to the conclusion that "while the new State House map creates one less Republican district than the map drawn by the Legislature, it is an improvement over the previous map issued by the San Antonio panel, which drew three less Republican districts (defined as a district being over 50 percent Republican).
The RPT applauded Attorney General Abbott's appeal of the interim maps to the Supreme Court, stating it has "yielded two more Republican districts than if he had not appealed."
"While we are disappointed that the San Antonio three-judge panel did not follow completely the legislative maps in today's new maps, we are appreciative of General Abbott's efforts to mitigate the damage done by the federal courts by appealing this to the Supreme Court," RPT State Chairman Steve Munisteri wrote in a statement. "His successful efforts to have the U.S. Supreme Court intervene has resulted in a new map which should enable the Republican Party of Texas to maintain a substantial majority of the Texas House of Representatives, and gives us a chance to obtain the second highest number of Republicans ever elected to the Texas House. The State Party's job will now be to ensure that we elect as many Republicans as possible in November."
The Texas Democratic Party is not as pleased with the results.
"We appreciate the court's efforts, but their maps are far from accurate representation," said spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña. "These maps may be slightly better than those passed by a radical legislature but they still grossly misrepresent the demographics of our state. The Texas Democratic Party will continue to support our allies who are fighting to ensure that all communities are accurately represented."