Texas redistricting thoughts
The Hotline (subscription required) on the SCOTUS review Texas redistricting:
At first glance, the SCOTUS decision to review the TX redistricting gives Dems a big chance to gain back some of the five seats they lost in '04. It also creates a messy winter of political and legal wrangling. The state's '06 primary is currently scheduled for 3/7, the country's earliest, at least three months before a ruling will likely take place. Will there be a delay in the primary until a decision is made, similar to NC's postponed -- and low turnout -- primaries last summer? Also, how will a decision to overturn the boundaries change the political landscape? Would the districts revert to the pre-'04 boundaries, or would an independent panel of judges redraw the lines?I highly doubt that this year's primary won't happen. I guess it's possible, but highly unlikely.
But the review doesn't just bode poorly for the GOP. Dems could be affected if the ruling makes it more difficult for state legislators to implement partisan redistricting in their favor. Minority groups are also often at odds with Dems, who want to spread out minorities in many districts, diluting their influence but helping the party. So Dems shouldn't cheer too loudly yet: What's good for them right now isn't guaranteed to be in their long-term interest.
Moreover, I agree with Kuff -- the power of incumbency has been overturned. The newly elected Republican Congressman will keep their seats no matter what happens.
Also, just one more note: if the Supreme Court overturned the maps, it might (depending on the SCOTUS ruling) actually be a bad thing for Democrats. Precedent was set years ago that when the redistricting is court ordered, the Texas Senate (through the Lt Gov's leadership) requires only a majority, not a supermajority to break a filibuster. Given the GOP majorities in the statehouse, Republicans will be able to further tinker with the lines. Granted, they'd have to comply with the court's order, but doing so would probably not require giving up any mapdrawing advantages. So, while there isn't much more Republicans can do to benefit the GOP...do Democrats really want that to happen?
On the other hand, a March 1st hearing is right before the primary in Texas. That'll be a round of bad press for DeLay right around primary time.
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