Expert: US Supreme Court Weighs In on West Texas Redistricting Flap

On Jan. 9, U.S. Supreme Court justices will hear arguments regarding the district lines drawn by state lawmakers and those created by a federal court in San Antonio. A Texas Tech University political scientist can discuss why the unprecedented controversy has created questions as to how or if incumbents will plan to run for reelection as well as which of the dueling maps will be upheld and why.

Pitch

On Jan. 9, U.S. Supreme Court justices will hear arguments regarding the district lines drawn by state lawmakers and those created by a federal court in San Antonio. A Texas Tech University political scientist can discuss why the unprecedented controversy has created questions as to how or if incumbents will plan to run for reelection as well as which of the dueling maps will be upheld and why.

 

Expert

Craig Goodman, assistant professor of political science, (806) 742-4047 office, (806) 790-8715 mobile, craig.goodman@ttu.edu.

 

Talking Points

  • If the Supreme Court sides with the initial map drawn by state legislators, it will likely allow Republicans to gain a few more seats in the House delegation and allow several ambitious Republican candidates to get a foothold in Washington, D.C.
  • The San Antonio map favors Democrats because of the growth of the Hispanic population in the state and allows the Democratic Party to avoid some really tough fights – notably Doggett v. Castro.
  • At the state level, the map drawn by the legislature would also imperil a few Democratic incumbents and allow the party to avoid some very tough Republican primaries.  Depending on the Court’s rationale – whether it upholds portions of the Voting Rights Act – that could be the more significant development.
  • The most significant effect for 2012 is that the primary date was moved to April 3. The later primary date could mean less interest in the presidential contest and lower turnout could benefit some of the more conservative Republican candidates seeking the nomination in state and federal races. This could matter a great deal in the Senate race and whether David Dewhurst gets the necessary 50 percent of the vote to avoid a run-off.

Quotes

  • “There is nothing comparable to the current situation in Texas history where so much uncertainty exists at the filing deadline for candidates.  The closest similarities occurred in 1994 when a federal court struck down three districts under the state’s redistricting plan and 2006 when the U.S. Supreme Court required some minor alterations following the mid-decade redistricting.”
  • “The tougher issue right now is that planning a campaign is hard because you don’t know where you need to build name recognition, whether donors will give money, and the timetable from the Supreme Court is not clear.”
  • “Incumbents always start every campaign with an advantage because they are already known and none of the existing congressional districts with the exception of Lloyd Doggett’s 25th have been dramatically altered.  However, for a freshman like Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) in the 27th District, the uncertainty is a bigger problem because his district could be drawn further north into Ron Paul’s district. There are Republicans who have been waiting to run for a while.  The bottom line is that incumbents will be able to raise sufficient funds to compete.”
  • “Given that the Supreme Court ordered a stay and scheduled oral arguments for next month, I don’t think the maps from the San Antonio court carry much weight.  More interesting could be what the federal district court in Washington, D.C. rules with regard to pre-clearance and the new districts.”