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

By Steve Bickerstaff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Is There a Democratic Endgame?

It's a waiting game with all the cards on our side. We will pass a map. Time is on
our side.

— jim ellis, aide to congressman tom delay, NATIONAL JOURNAL,
august 1, 2003

The Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives had successfully killed the Republican redistricting bill during the regular session by leaving Texas and denying the Republican-controlled legislature the quorum needed for legislative action. The Democrats in the Senate, along with Republican senator Bill Ratliff, had successfully killed redistricting in the first special session.

At the end of July 2003, as the first special session drew to a close and a second special session appeared likely, the unanswered questions were whether Democratic senators too would try to break a quorum, whether they could organize themselves and flee Texas, and whether such a boycott would ultimately stop the Republican redistricting offensive. Senators historically are more independent than their House counterparts. There are only thirty-one senators, each representing approximately 672,639 persons (more than the number currently represented by members of the Texas congressional delegation). The likelihood of the twelve Democratic senators staging a walkout appeared small to many observers, requiring an unachievable level of mutual trust, coordination, and individual and political will.

The possibility of a walkout had been discussed among the Democratic senators from the time the first special session had convened in June. During the last week of the session, however, Democratic senators began to meet regularly in small groups and together as the Democratic Caucus to seriously consider the possibility. As the calling of a second special session became a certainty, the Democratic senators decided to prepare for a possible boycott, which would break quorum and prevent the adoption of a Republican redistricting plan. The

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