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

By Steve Bickerstaff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
Republican Triumph in the Senate

We're here, and finally we've got a quorum. The Democrats have shown up, and we
can do the business we were all elected to do.

— lieutenant governor david dewhurst, september 15, 2003

By the first week in September, only ten Democratic senators remained in Albuquerque. The number was insufficient to prevent Republicans from gathering a quorum in the Texas Senate. It seemed only a matter of time before these senators too would return to Austin.

Although the end of the boycott was proclaimed by some news sources as "Perry's Famous Victory," the person most responsible for the Republican success had been Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. Dewhurst had been patient but persistent throughout the walkout, and he had largely avoided being drawn into personal conflicts with the absent senators. By alternately publicly pressuring the Democratic senators and privately coddling and entreating them, Dewhurst and his chief of staff, Bruce Gibson, had successfully piloted the Republicans through the rough waters of the summer. Dewhurst continued to gently but relentlessly urge the senators' return: "They fought a good fight. It's time for them to come back."1

By September 2003, Republicans began to focus on reaching agreement on a redistricting plan and having it in place for the March 2004 primary elections. It had been clear since early summer that Republicans did not fully agree among themselves about the specifics of a final redistricting map. Efforts to resolve those differences over the summer had largely been neglected because of the distraction of the boycott. The biggest difference between the House and Senate versions concerned the districts in West Texas. This disagreement and others lingered unresolved. However, neither Congressman DeLay nor his allies were prepared to allow such difficulties to derail a final plan.

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