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Between the Lines: Interim 2012 Map Expected Soon in Texas

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Rep. Lloyd Doggett could benefit from legal debate over Texas' new Congressional lines.

A federal court in San Antonio will release an interim Texas Congressional map in the next couple of weeks, and it’s anybody’s guess what the plan will look like.

“Based on what happened 10 years ago when a similar process occurred, who the hell knows what they’re going to put out,” said Chris Perkins, a Texas Republican consultant who had a heavy hand in the last redistricting round.

The San Antonio court’s maps are even more important since a separate federal court in Washington, D.C., decided this week that the plan already passed into law will head to a lengthy trial.

That means the San Antonio court’s map will almost certainly be used in the 2012 elections.

The court will likely release the temporary maps by the end of next week, according to one source close to the process. They’re racing against an early primary calendar under which House candidates can begin to file at the end of November.

But for now, no one knows what the interim map will look like. Democrats are optimistic it could yield up to four new favorable House seats, but Republicans hope the courts will add only one more Democratic-tilting district.

Regardless, there are a couple of sure things: These maps will only be temporary, and the courts will give as much deference as possible to the current Congressional map while adding four new House seats.

This means Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D) could be a big winner. Mapmakers dismantled Doggett’s 25th district under the new map, forcing him into a primary with state Rep. Joaquin Castro in a new, oddly shaped district that stretched to San Antonio. The courts could defer to Doggett’s original district and draw another Hispanic-majority district in another part of the state.

The districts drawn for freshman GOP Reps. Blake Farenthold and Francisco “Quico” Canseco might be in for a heavy makeover, too. The courts could secure these minority-opportunity districts by moving more Hispanic voters into them.

“The Republican plan was drawn to help them by giving them more Anglo voters. That’s likely to be undone,” said Matt Angle, a Democratic consultant and Texas redistricting expert.

A Republican source speculated the new 33rd district around Dallas may also see changes. The minority population grew massively in that city in the past decade, but Republicans did not draw any new majority-minority districts there in the map that passed earlier this year.

A Washington, D.C., court will continue its separate trial over the Texas map into the late spring or early summer. After the trial, that court could order a new map or even rule that the map passed earlier this year is law.

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