Lines in the Sand: Congressional Redistricting in Texas and the Downfall of Tom Delay

By Steve Bickerstaff | Go to book overview

Preface

The partisan battle over the redrawing of congressional district lines in Texas in 2003 was bitter. For the first time in recent history, a political majority within a state legislature undertook to displace an existing, valid congressional district scheme with a new plan designed to maximize the majority party's power in Congress. Both political parties figuratively drew lines in the sand over which none of their members could cross.

People nationwide watched as the Republicans and Democrats of the Texas legislature engaged for six months in a historic battle to determine which party would control a majority of the state's thirty-two-member congressional delegation. Republicans targeted ten Anglo Democratic incumbents as part of an effort to add as many as fourteen lawmakers to the Republican majority in Congress as well as to marginalize the Democratic Party in Texas. The redistricting effort was driven largely by national political forces and benefited national Republican leaders, including U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and President George W. Bush.

Faced with a reality in which they held no statewide elective offices and were a minority in both houses of the state legislature, the Democrats resorted to extraordinary tactics in an effort to defeat the Republican redistricting legislation. The Texas lawmakers took themselves and their partisan fight to Oklahoma and New Mexico, and the plight of the Texas lawmakers eventually became a rallying cry for Democrats nationwide in the drive toward the 2004 elections.

This book tells the story of the 2003 congressional redistricting in Texas and the persons who played a major role in determining the outcome. These stories are told against the background of the past four decades of partisan, racial, and ethnic political change in Texas, particularly the events of 2001–2002 that made partisan redistricting possible in 2003.

-vii-

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