Texas GOP still hopes to stop interim Senate, House maps




Posted on November 28, 2011 at 7:47 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 26 at 1:44 AM

Big changes could still be coming to North Texas politics.

The U.S. Supreme Court late Monday decided to hear more on the case that could change Texas Senate and House district maps after being asked to do so by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

The court is asking for briefs from lawyers by Thursday.

Those interim maps ordered by a federal court in San Antonio could lead to more Democrats in the House — and great frustration for the Republican-controlled legislature that drew the original maps.

At Dallas County Republican headquarters, incumbent state lawmakers filed for the upcoming election, still uncertain what's ahead with their districts before the Supreme Court.

What they are sure of is they better like the ones they approved, according to Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas). "The court's map is an overreach, and I hope we go back to the map that was drawn by the elected representatives of the people," he said.

A federal court temporarily replaced the maps drawn by the Republican-controlled House and Senate after Democrats challenged them, claiming the reconstituted districts diluted minority voting strength.

The result is that under these interim maps, Democrats could gain more seats and power in the House, where Republicans hold a super majority.

Filing for his reelection, Dallas Democratic Rep. Rafael Anchia said he thinks the GOP appeal will fail. "I think the judges have spoken; they declared the Republican maps illegal, and we're moving forward under new maps," he said. "I don't think things are going to change very much."

Under the interim districts, Republican Rep. Linda Harper Brown wouldn't have the strong GOP-leaning District 105 in Irving she was planning on. "We'll go back to having a tough election again because the percentages are about the same probably, but I feel very confident I can win that district," she said.

But in Tarrant County, Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis has a better chance at re-election with minority neighborhoods returned to her District 10 that the map approved by the Republican legislature removed.

"We're in it for the long haul," Davis vowed. "I've filed for Senate District 10. I am fully confident that it's going to be in the configuration that was ordered from the San Antonio court."

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is seeking a response from the Democrats and minority plaintiffs by Thursday.

What could be the result?

Speculation ranged from delaying the March primary for state races to May; changing the maps again; or at least a delay in the candidate filing period.

One thing Republicans and Democrats feel certain about: 2012 could be a very confusing year for Texas voters.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com