Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
One thing I find endearing about the congressional redistricting process in Texas is that no one pretends that it is anything other than political. So, you get stories like this one from the Texas Tribune:
Republican and Democratic members of the Texas congressional delegation are discussing a possible compromise designed to cool off the overheated politics of congressional redistricting by dividing the expected spoils once U.S. Census figures are in and the reapportionment process begins in 2011, two members of the delegation say.
U.S. Reps. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, and Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, told me the plan on the table would split the expected four-seat gain in Texas congressional seats into two for the Republicans and two for the Democrats, shfiting the focus of a likely fight from which party gets what to where the new districts are drawn. That would take the current make-up of the delegation from 20 Republicans and 12 Democrats to 22 Republicans and 14 Democrats. Smith said he would be in Austin over the next few days presenting the possible compromise to Speaker Joe Straus and Gov. Rick Perry. Cuellar says he briefed Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst when they were together in South Texas earlier this year. "I talked to both of them," Cuellar said. "They said, 'If you guys come up with something bipartisan, we'll support you.'"
No one, it seems, is saying let's ignore politics and focus on keeping districts compact and communities of interest united. No one, it seems, is even saying that Texas should draw a bunch of swing districts and may the best party win. Redistricting's primary purpose is to dole out districts to the two major parties.
Of course, as the article notes in the final paragraph, the problem for these dealmaking congressmen is that the legislature ultimately will decide on the lines.
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