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

By Steve Bickerstaff | Go to book overview

chapter 5
As Partisan as the Law Allows:
Republican Strategy in 2003

I'm the majority leader and we want more seats.

— congressman tom delay, associated press, may 7, 2003

Our purpose was purely political. We wanted to elect more Republicans to Congress.

— state representative phil king, 2006

There was no single strategy over 2001–2003 attributable to all Republicans. Different ones foresaw different outcomes and had different (although often similar) objectives. The central character in the Republican drive for congressional redistricting throughout this period, however, was Congressman Tom DeLay. His goal was to elect a Texas congressional delegation dominated by Republicans. On review of the events over this period, it is fair to credit DeLay with a strategy for achieving this goal and, because of the ultimate success of that strategy, to treat it as the "Republican Strategy."

Although George W. Bush had won election as president and, on the way, had overwhelmingly carried Texas, 2000 was not a good year for the Republican effort to gain seats in Congress from Texas. All seventeen of the Democratic incumbents won reelection. This result was a setback for the Republican Party, but also was a personal embarrassment for Tom DeLay. While he was scouring the country for opportunities to add to the slight Republican majority in Congress, he was unable to win any additional seats in Texas. DeLay's critics (both Republican and Democratic) said he "had not delivered" even in his home state. DeLay set out to change that situation.

DeLay's tactics evolved as circumstances changed. In 2001 he appeared before the Texas legislature and urged it to draw compact, nonpartisan congressional boundaries in order to increase minority voting strength. He pointed out that boundary changes in Dallas could increase Hispanic voting strength there.

-84-

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