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Farenthold, who currently represents the 27th district, is expected to run in the 34th district under the court-drawn map. The redrawn district includes an estimated 2 percent of his current district and extends to new territory in western Harris County, giving him a whole new population of constituents. Even before this new map was released, partisans suspected Farenthold, a surprise winner in the 2010 midterms, could be susceptible to a primary challenge. The new map only reinforces that perception.
Experts were reluctant to make specific projections about the partisan implications of this map because data is still being crunched. Texas Democratic redistricting expert Matt Angle offered a first-glance projection that Democrats could control 13 seats under the new map, compared with the 10 seats Democrats were projected to hold under the GOP-drawn map.
The new map is only a proposal. The court is seeking comments and objections until noon on Friday. It is believed that the court on Friday will issue a final map, which will be implemented for next year's primaries. The Congressional filing period in Texas begins Monday and ends Dec. 12.
The decennial redistricting process, controlled by GOP-held legislatures in a number of key states, was expected to be a boon for national Republicans this cycle. While a number of marginal seats — especially in the South — have been shored up to protect GOP incumbents for years to come, Democrats have won key victories in a number of court cases.
The net number of seats gained or lost throughout redistricting was thought to be a wash over the last few months, giving neither party a particular edge in the 2012 race for control of the House. But with the Texas map appearing to give Democrats an edge and new maps in a number of big states still outstanding — including New York, Florida and Pennsylvania — the final outcome could end up giving one party a slight edge in picking up seats.
Joshua Miller contributed to this report.