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

By Steve Bickerstaff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Personal Dilemmas:
The First Special Session

Every now and then, Godzilla eats the city.

— STATE REP. JIM DUNNAM, AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, JULY 8, 2003

Many Democrats and Republicans faced personal dilemmas over redistricting during the summer of 2003. Each Democrat who took a firm stand against the Republican juggernaut did so only by risking his or her own personal status in the Senate and, ultimately, their own personal financial and political wellbeing. No one, however, faced a greater dilemma than three Republicans.


Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst

Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst is a tall (six feet five) slender man, with saltand-pepper hair, expensive attire, and a seemingly perpetual tan from working at his ranch—a distinguished appearance.1 Independently wealthy from his success as a businessman, Dewhurst was elected lieutenant governor in 2002 after serving as commissioner of the state's General Land office. He had never served in the Senate before becoming its presiding officer. Dewhurst was absolutely critical to the success of any Republican redistricting effort. Without his help, redistricting would have been impossible. Dewhurst, however, indicated publicly early in 2003 that he was concerned about going along with redistricting because such a controversial issue could needlessly divide the Senate along partisan lines and damage his efforts to work with all senators, to maintain the bipartisan cooperation necessary for the chamber's productive operation. However, Dewhurst also had ambitions for higher office. He agreed that the Democrats' seventeen-to-fifteen advantage in the congressional delegation was unfair, and he knew that being perceived by Republican activists and major

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