The Campaign Spot

A Texas Party-Flipper to Aim for Congress?

Keeping an eye on the early talk about redistricting in Texas, which is slated to gain four congressional seats:

South Texas should pick up a congressional seat from the four Texas gained during apportionment, but where and how the new South Texas district will be drawn is hard to forecast.

Only U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa’s congressional seat is currently anchored in the Valley. Expect the Valley to anchor another seat with either U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, or Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, pushed out to make way for a new district when the courts approve the final maps.

Republicans in control of the Legislature will decide how the lines are drawn, meaning they’ll want to create a favorable South Texas district that is at least a tossup for a GOP candidate. However, any new district must pass muster of the Federal Voting Rights Act and reflect population gains among Hispanics…

Political observers speculate that the Republican Party will draw a district favorable for state Rep. Aaron Peña, who switched to the GOP last month to give it a supermajority in the state House. A new conservative district for Peña could contain affluent neighborhoods in Sharyland or north McAllen, similar to the GOP-friendly district drawn by the Hidalgo County Republican Party in the last redistricting process that Gonzales has managed to hold despite attempts to unseat her.

Peña, who sits on the redistricting committee, said statewide growth makes redistricting a high-stakes affair.

“Redistricting is always contentious,” Peña said. “I fully expect that regardless of the plan that comes out, the divisions will be appealed to the court system. We’ll eventually have a plan people can run under, but it will take a lot of work.”


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