View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

The Great Texas House Border Wars are back. Gov. Rick Perry has called the legislature back for a special session. When we last left this saga, the Republicans were trying to pass a redistricting bill, something that the Democrats had failed to do when they controlled the legislature. With a 2/3 majority required for a quorum, and the Republicans just shy of a 2/3 majority in each house, the Democrats couldn't win a vote, but they could and did deny a quorum. Now, with a special session, the Dems have decided to focus on the Senate, where they only need to hold 12 members in line, instead of 51. Still, some of those Democrats, presumably ones without higher ambition, seem willing to play ball for their votes.

I don't want to pick on the Post too much here, but it's not until the very end of the article that we are reminded that 1) the last redistricting plan was imposed by a judge, 2) the Democrats made gerrymandering these districts a cornerstone of their state political policy through the 1980 and 1990 cycles, and 3) Republicans "say" that a 17-15 Democrat majority isn't representative, without telling us the percentage of votes cast for each party in the 2002 House races. It turns out that the Republicans got 56% of the vote statewide in 2002. Amazingly, the Greens ran candidates in 5 districts and picked up just over 10000 votes, and I hadn't realized there was anything green in Texas.

Naturally, the Post editorial is opposed to the plan, but spends more time on whether or not House Speaker Tom Craddick called Homeland Security to track down a plane flown by one of the AWOL Democrats. They fault the Homeland Security IG for investigating the role of Homeland Security, as though the department's IG had any right at all to go investigating the Texas Legislature. This call took up 40 minutes of some minor official's time. It's a shame that the Post can't get as worked up over Sheila Jackson Lee and her attachment to Government cars.

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