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Monday, September 01, 2003

How long shall be the exile?

R.G. Ratcliffe's article in today's Houston Chronicle is entitled, "Low on options, Senate Democrats realizing there's no easy way home."  He quotes Truant Texas Dem™ Sen. Mario Gallegos as saying that even if their Voting Rights Act lawsuit is rejected by the three-judge panel just assigned to hear it, there's a "magic date" which is

sometime between mid-September and mid-October after which any redistricting bill passed by the Republican majority probably could not be used in the 2004 elections. [Gallegos] said the senators may have to stay out of state that long.

"That is the golden period," Gallegos said. "That's the breathing room that we're being asked to give them ... the lawyers, the congressmen, the people who support us and us, the Texas 11."

I don't know what the practical deadline is to pass redistricting legislation and still comply with the pre-clearance requirements of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  But I strongly suspect Sen. Gallegos is dreaming if he thinks Gov. Perry wouldn't bother to call another special session for redistricting even after that date, whenever it is.

From now until the 79th Texas Legislature is seated in 2005, the Republicans can absolutely count on controlling both legislative chambers, the governorship, and the lieutenant governorship.  And even after the 2004 elections, there will be three more congressional elections — in 2006, 2008, and 2010 — before the 2010 Census and redistricting based on it in 2011.

I'm sure Charlie Stenholm and the other white male incumbent Democratic Congressmen who comprise  Leticia's Children would be grateful for even another two-year reprieve, and I don't mean to minimize the political significance of merely frustrating the normal democratic processes for one more election cycle.  But if that's all they can do, it will become increasingly apparent that this hasn't been a fight by the Truant Texas Dems™ to protect some high-flown principles — but rather, just an attempt to screw things up.

Posted by Beldar at 02:58 PM in Texas Redistricting | Permalink


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