In 2011, Texas Republicans tried to redistrict the state while denying a second Democratic district in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro and manipulating TX-23 (then held by Republican Rep. Francisco Canseco) so that a majority of the electorate would be non-Hispanic white. Knowing that this map would never get Section 5 Preclearance from the DOJ, they went to the U.S. Circuit Court of DC to get a declaratory judgement made on the legality of all their maps. However, the maps as they re-drew them were unable to be put into effect in the interim according to a ruling handed down by the US Circuit Court for the district of San Antonio. The court set about redrawing all maps themselves with loose basis on how the TX Republicans did it. They submitted an interim map that would have made TX-23 a Dem-tilting district again, put a second DFW district in Tarrant County, compacted Lloyd Doggett's district to the Austin metropolitan area, and made two GOP-held districts winnable. However, TX's Attorney-General asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review this decision. The court agreed and heard both sides before deciding unanimously that the District Court should redraw the interim maps to be more like the maps the Republicans drew, but should have two Dem districts in the DFW and make TX-23 more Hispanic than what the Republicans drew. The court drew a relatively cautious map that did just that, but had the second DFW district spread out a bit into Dallas County and made TX-23 a 50/50 district. The 2012 elections were performed under this new interim map and it was pretty good. State Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) beat Rep. Canseco for TX-23, Rep. Lloyd Doggett won the primary handily in a Hispanic district that spans from Austin to Bexar County, and State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) won re-election.
Last year, the U.S. Circuit Court of DC ruled to deny preclearance of the TX GOP's maps, officially nixing them. Now there's the other issue of the SCOTUS possibly ruling Section 5 of the VRA to be unconstitutional this year, which would end or curtail preclearance. However, Section 2 would most likely remain untouched, meaning that a group or the DOJ can sue a state for violating the VRA. Section 5 just makes it much easier to nip VRA violations in the bud. Regardless of how the SCOTUS rules, Texas will need new maps with big changes to the State House and Congressional maps. The likely result is that TX-23 is nudged a few points more Democratic, Nueces County has its Hispanic population cut out into a district that runs south to Brownsville, and Lloyd Doggett might see his district compact some.
For this diary, I decided to map out what would be possible for Democrats in a remap, but more optimistic than reality. This diary also seeks to prove that four, relatively clean so-called "fajita strip" districts are possible and easy.
More below the fold.
TX-23 (aquamarine): Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine)
VAP: 65.6% Hispanic, 28.0% Non-Hispanic White (NHW), 3.8% Black, 1.5% Asian
54.6% Spanish Surname Voter Registration (SSVR) (Note: Because of a large number of non-citizen Hispanic people in the rural parts of Texas, SSVR becomes a much more important statistic in determining who makes up the majority of a district than VAP.)
53.2% Obama/46.8% McCain
50.5% Avg Dem/49.5% Avg GOP
This district changes from how Republicans drew it by losing some rural NHW parts west of San Antonio and divests itself of the Republican-leaning north side of San Antonio, only taking in the west side. I could actually see the 23rd being redrawn like this, but a point less Democratic.
TX-16 (lime): Rep. Robert "Beto" O'Rourke (D-El Paso)
VAP: 78.7% Hispanic, 16.2% NHW, 2.8% Black, 1.3% Asian
65.9% Obama/34.1% McCain
62.5% Avg Dem/37.5% Avg GOP
This district stays about the same as it always has, taking in almost all of El Paso. Safe Democratic as always.
TX-20 (chocolate): Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio)
VAP: 65.3% Hispanic, 25.0% NHW, 6.7% Black, 2.0% Asian
62.0% Obama/38.0% McCain
59.4% Avg Dem/40.6% Avg GOP
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro's identical twin brother has his district change very little. I hope he can become a big asset to Democrats like he was last year with his big donations to the DCCC.
TX-35 (dark orchid): Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin)
VAP: 41.3% Hispanic, 40.9% NHW, 11.6% Black, 4.5% Asian
69.6% Obama/30.4% McCain
63.1% Avg Dem/36.9% Avg GOP
Lloyd Doggett's district is made into a racial coalition district that's plurality Hispanic (and growing much more Hispanic). This is a big grey area in the VRA case against the original map and its justification is somewhat debatable. Lloyd Doggett would have this locked down for the rest of his career, both in the primary and in the general.
TX-28 (red): Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo)
VAP: 68.8% Hispanic, 22.8% NHW, 5.9% Black, 1.5% Asian
59.4% Obama/40.6% McCain
58.4% Avg Dem/41.6% Avg GOP
This district would be the prime set-up for a primary battle rematch between ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-San Antonio) and more conservative Democrat Henry Cuellar. Rodriguez would have an edge this time as this district has more of San Antonio in it (the south side and northeast side) and this iteration of TX-28 is several points to the left of the current TX-28.
TX-15 (dark orange): Open
VAP: 70.1% Hispanic, 26.0% NHW, 1.8% Black, 1.0% Asian
55.7% Obama/44.3% McCain
54.7% Avg Dem/45.3% Avg GOP
This district, partisan-wise, is similar to what Henry Cuellar has now. As it stands, TX-15's incumbent is Ruben Hinojosa, but he lives in Mercedes, which is no longer in this district. This district's Democratic strength is anchored in Starr County and in rapidly-growing McAllen in Hidalgo County.
TX-34 (lime green): Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Mercedes)
VAP: 75.1% Hispanic, 21.6% NHW, 2.0% Black, 0.8% Asian
57.1% Obama/42.9% McCain
57.8% Avg D/42.2% Avg GOP
Ruben Hinojosa gets the new 34th. It now stretches to Victoria, but is actually not much changed from the TX-15 he currently represents. It's also bluer than his current district.
TX-27 (blue): Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville)
VAP: 72.1% Hispanic, 23.7% NHW, 2.2% Black, 1.3% Asian
56.5% Obama/43.5% McCain
56.6% Avg Dem/43.4% Avg GOP
TX-27 is restored approximately to its old form in this district. One contention against the interim maps that I agree with was giving all of Nueces County (containing Corpus Christi) to a Republican-leaning district when there is a significant Hispanic population there that ought to be drawn in with this district. It also produces a cleaner and less convoluted district. I hope re-redistricting can at least partially ameliorate that.
Before I move on, it should be noted that pretty much all of the southernmost Texas counties went more for Obama in 2012 than in 2008.
TX-30 (light coral): Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas)
VAP: 48.1% Black, 28.7% Hispanic, 20.1% NHW, 1.9% Asian
79.3% Obama/20.7% McCain
74.3% Avg Dem/25.7% Avg GOP
This district unites as much of the Dallas African-American community as possible and is more Democratic than the real TX-30.
TX-33 (royal blue): Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Fort Worth)
VAP: 37.1% Hispanic, 29.9% NHW, 25.5% Black, 5.9% Asian
66.3% Obama/33.7% McCain
61.7% Avg Dem/38.3% Avg GOP
This district stays entirely within Tarrant County and is similar to what the original interim map had it. Marc Veasey is still safe.
TX-9 (cyan): Rep. Al Green (D-Houston)
VAP: 34.2% Black, 34.1% Hispanic, 16.4% NHW, 13.8% Asian
72.5% Obama/27.5% McCain
67.4% Avg Dem/32.6% Avg GOP
This district extends into Brazoria County and further into Fort Bend County. It's about the same district, partisan-wise, as the real TX-9.
TX-18 (yellow): Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston)
VAP: 46.2% Black, 29.9% Hispanic, 19.2% NHW, 3.5% Asian
80.1% Obama/19.9% McCain
76.5% Avg Dem/23.5% Avg GOP
The southern blade of the three-bladed propeller that is TX-18 extends further south to take in more of Houston's African-American population. Sheila Jackson Lee's position is further secured, which is not necessarily a good thing as she's known to be rather acrimonious.
TX-29 (dark sea-green): Rep. Gene Green (D-Houston)
VAP: 70.5% Hispanic, 16.3% NHW, 10.5% Black, 2.0% Asian
61.9% Obama/38.1% McCain
63.6% Avg Dem/36.4% Avg GOP
This district becomes a bit bluer by becoming a majority SSVR district, but doesn't change all that much. Gene Green, a Caucasian Democrat, already represents pretty much the same district without a problem and I have no reason to think he'll be jeopardized by this district. Just like TN-09 (which is majority black and has Rep. Steve Cohen, a Caucasian Democrat, representing it without worry), this district is proof that the VRA is not about electing people of color, but allowing people of color to elect their candidate of choice.
And that's the end of this diary. In it, I proved that you can draw four fajita strip districts that are easily majority Hispanic in every metric. Better yet, I confidently declare that I followed the integral Gingles criteria in each and every Hispanic-dominated district. Although I doubt the creation of a fourth fajita strip district will be forced in re-redistricting, I do believe that a strong case can be made for its legal necessity. But if not this year, it definitely will be required in 2021 as the deep blue and very Hispanic counties of Webb, Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron are growing at a faster rate than the state as a whole. But all that is just my educated opinion. I am no lawyer. So feel free to provide feedback, insight, and criticism.