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

By Steve Bickerstaff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
The Effects of the Final Plan

The maps are now official. I have studied them and this is the most aggressive
map I have ever seen. This has a real national impact that should assure that
Republicans keep the House no matter the national mood
.

—JOBY FORTSON, A MEMBER OF CONGRESSMAN JOE BARTON'S STAFF, IN
AN E-MAIL TO REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL STAFFERS, OCTOBER 9, 2003
(SPELLING CORRECTED FROM ORIGINAL)

The effects of the 2003 redistricting will be felt not only for the remainder of this decade, but for the foreseeable future. The final redistricting plan (Plan 1374) is a masterpiece of partisan engineering. It is the most carefully designed and effectively gerrymandered plan that I have ever seen.

Neither the Republican lawyers nor the final Republican map drawers in 2003 were worried about using the Republican political advantage to the maximum extent possible to draw partisan districts that would defeat Anglo Democrats. They felt that any subsequent court challenge by Democrats on the basis of partisanship would be unsuccessful, just as the Republicans' challenges in the past had been unsuccessful. Instead, the Republican leadership focused on how best to insulate a final redistricting plan from a legal attack based on racial or ethnic discrimination.

Since most actions directed at minimizing Democratic voting strength would also affect minority voters, given the extent to which African American and Hispanic voters vote Democratic, Republicans in 2003 walked a narrow line. They were cautious throughout the process to explain and to justify redistricting plans as being beneficial to racial- and ethnic-minority interests. They dismissed complaints by minority organizations to the contrary as partisan, even if these organizations lacked any direct or indirect tie to the Democratic

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