DEMOCRATS WILL PAY

Texas Governor Rick Perry expects his party to win big as a result of the shenanigans of the Democratic legislators that hid out in neighboring states to prevent the redistricting vote:

“Democrats will pay the price with voters” for their tactics, Mr. Perry told editors and reporters in a meeting at The Washington Times.

Yesterday, the state Senate approved on an 18-12 vote a redistricting map similar to one passed earlier by the state House, ending a four-month battle in a decisive defeat for the Democrats.

Mr. Perry said Texas Democrats’ flight to avoid a quorum was a violation of the state constitution, “which clearly states” that legislators must stay put in Austin and do their jobs.

“Six months from now, voters won’t remember the issue was redistricting but will remember that Democrats didn’t show up for work,” he said.

He’s almost certainly right on this. What he misses, though, is that Republicans will be paying for this nationwide for decades to come: The precedent has now been set that, if a new party gains control of the legislature, it can immediately draw new district lines to favor it rather than waiting until the next Census. While I think there were some reasonable technical reasons for their actions, this is not going to be a good long-term result.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. David R. Block says:

    In 2001, the Democrats held the house and did not pass a single redistricting plan. Not for themselves, the senate, or congress. The Senate passed a plan for themselves, but it did not get out of the House. It was left to the Texas Redistricting Board as laid out by state law when the legislature fails to produce plans (the board was 4-1 Republican, if reconstituted today, it would be 5-0) which submitted district plans to the justice department and the courts. The Texas House and Senate plans were approved by both, although the judges tinkered a little with the House plan for some Voting Rights Act concerns.

    However, the Congressional Map proposed by the redistricting board was compared to a map that the judges ordered then attorney general John Cornyn to produce that was an “incumbent protection plan.” The judges tinkered with the “incumbent protection plan” while ignoring the Redistricting Board’s work. No Texas elected offical (including the Redistricting Board) had a voice in the current Congressional districts.

    This is the first legislative redistricting in Texas this decade, despite Democratic carping. They did not get the job done in 2001 when they still held one part of the legislature (and that was the part that got nothing done). They saw the electoral writing on the wall and threw it to the courts.

    Thus the Democratic game plan continues to be obstruction at every level. And they say that the Republicans are partisan? Cry me a river, build me a bridge, and get over it.

  2. Dimitrios Stathopoulos says:

    To further add to David’s comments, these new district lines are drawn up becuase of the last census and the only time the congressional districts can be redrawn in Texas is right after the census. It isn’t this current adminstrations fault that it took them 3 years to do it.

    The only way i can see this happening more often then once every 10 years is if the census is taken more frequently then once every 10 years or if Texas changes it’s laws.

    This will hurt the Dem’s more then they realized, but then again that particlar party has never had a problem cutting off it’s own nose to spite it’s face.

  3. Scrapulous says:

    The US Constitution assigns the task of redistricting to state legislatures, and the US Supreme Court has ruled that completing that task less often than once each ten years (to correspond with each national Census) is constitutionally suspect. So state legislatures have a constitutional duty to redistrict after each Census.

    As Mr. Block’s post points out, the 77th Texas Legislature failed in that duty in 2001 because of partisan deadlock.

    The voters of Texas cured the deadlock with the 2002 election by putting both chambers of the Texas Legislature into the hands of a single party, along with the top two executive offices. What’s going on now in Austin is simply the completion of the State’s once-per-decade duty to redistrict.

    It’s hugely ironic that the Democrats claim that the Republicans are trying to thwart democracy. In fact, redistricting — including gerrymandering — is small-d democracy at its most blunt, but it’s democracy that’s being practiced in Austin right now. This is indeed a fight about democracy — but it’s the Dems who are on the anti-democratic side of that fight.