July 10, 2014

Between the Lines: Democrats Continue to Point Fingers

Hours after the federal court in San Antonio released an interim Congressional map Tuesday, House Democratic aides bickered over who's to blame for the new unfavorable boundaries.

The court-ordered map closely resembles a recently proposed map from state Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) that gave the GOP a 25-to-11 advantage in House seats. Rep. Henry Cuellar offered his support for Abbott's proposal, drawing the ire of his fellow Democrats.

"House Democrats paid the price for Congressman Cuellar getting the map he wanted," a top Democratic House aide said Tuesday night. "For the sake of his future in the House, Cuellar should pray that control of the House doesn't come down to single digits because if it does, the Caucus will look at his selfish compromise with Texas Republicans."

When contacted for a response Wednesday, Cuellar's top political aide, Colin Strother, defended the new map as good for Democrats and Hispanics.

"Whomever said that is either an idiot or has not reviewed the maps," Strother said. "Whatever the case may be, whenever they get the cojones to put their name behind their words, I'm easy to find."

Then Strother called out Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D) for running in a nearby heavily Hispanic, Democratic district instead of in the GOP district where he lives.

"If Lloyd Doggett would man up and spend that $3 million he's been hoarding for the last decade, then we could have an extra Democratic seat," Strother added.

Doggett's office did not respond to a request for comment.

All the while, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is expected to rule soon whether to approve the original map passed by Texas lawmakers last year. Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Texas is one of several states that requires federal preclearance before making any changes to its voting maps.

It's unlikely the court will approve the map, which means Texas GOP lawmakers will probably attempt to redraw the lines again next year.

New York: Legislature Expected to Propose Map Finally

The disjointed, perpetually deadlocked, rumor-filled, agita-inducing drama of the Empire State's Congressional redistricting moves into its final act. The Legislature was expected to submit proposed lines to a judge by midnight, and a final map is expected to be approved in less than a month.

Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann ordered all parties involved in a redistricting lawsuit to submit their proposed Congressional plans to the court by Wednesday. With control of the Legislature split, the main plans are expected to be submitted by Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans. The opposing sides reportedly remained deadlocked Wednesday morning.

Mann will hold a hearing on the submissions along with suggestions from the public on March 5. In consultation with an outside expert, professor Nathaniel Persily of Columbia University, Mann will make a recommendation on a map to a three-judge panel by March 12. The judges will hold a hearing on the lines on March 15 and are expected to issue a decision soon thereafter.

Candidate petitioning begins March 20, which gives potential candidates little time to determine in which district they will run.

The primary is scheduled for June 26.

Send news items on redistricting to Between the Lines here.

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