On Thursday, the Texas House finally revealed the highly anticipated first draft of the proposed new maps for the 150 state House districts. While the proposed maps look to shore up Republican support in the state going into the next biennium, they don’t come without a few interesting potential matchups.
Here are five takeaways from the proposed Texas House map.
Shores up Republicans
It is no secret that the process of redistricting, which is performed every 10 years by the state Legislature, can be a very partisan process. The party in power—the Republicans—is incentivized to draw districts that either increase their total number of seats in the chamber or protect incumbent Republicans who may be in marginal districts.
In this first proposal, a number of those marginal districts appear to be moved in a direction to protect incumbent Republicans.
For example, in Dallas County House Districts 108 and 112—currently represented by Republican State Reps. Morgan Meyer (Dallas) and Angie Chen Button (Garland)—are redrawn to make the districts slightly safer for Republicans, after Democrat challengers came close to taking the seats in recent elections.
Similarly, in Harris County, House District 132, which Republican State Rep. Mike Schofield (Katy) took back from Democrats in 2020, has been shored up to stay Republican in the near future.
Overall, while President Donald Trump won 76 of the 150 districts in 2020 under the current maps, he won 86 under the new proposals.
Not all Republican incumbents benefited from this, however. State Rep. Jeff Cason (R–Bedford) had his Republican district in Tarrant County drawn blue, with portions of outgoing Ft. Worth State Rep. Matt Krause‘s district being reshaped to draw another Republican district elsewhere in the county.
Targets (Some) Democrats
Though most House Democrats are safe, the proposed map includes a few opportunities for Republicans to take seats away from Democrat members.
In Williamson County, for example, Round Rock Democrat State Rep. James Talarico‘s House District 52 is made a much more competitive district. So far, two Republicans have announced their intention to challenge Talarico for the seat.
In Hays County, Democrat State Rep. Erin Zwiener (Driftwood) finds her House District 45, which currently consists of Hays and Blanco counties, sliced and distributed among three different districts, with her current residence being located in a very Republican district. Were Zwiener to move to the east portion of Hays County—where HD 45 is proposed to move—she could potentially run in a safe Democrat seat.
In Denton County, House District 63, which is currently held by Democrat State Rep. Michelle Beckley (Carrollton), has been redrawn to become more Republican, after the seat changed hands in 2018. During the summer, Beckley announced her intention to run for Congress against U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne, though proposed congressional maps have made that seat significantly less competitive than before.
Down in South Texas, Republicans potentially have growth opportunities in upcoming elections. House District 31, which is currently represented by Democrat State Rep. Ryan Guillen (Rio Grande City), moves from a +13 Trump district to +25, raising questions about whether Guillen will be able to hang onto the seat. Notably, Guillen was among the few Democrats who refused to break quorum this summer and flee to Washington D.C. during the first special session.
Similarly, Democrat State Rep. Tracy King (Uvalde) in House District 80 finds himself in a district that Trump won.
3 Paired Matchups
One of the most notable takeaways from any release of map drafts is whether or not there are any paired matchups, or situations where two current members are redrawn to be in the same district.
This current iteration has three potential matchups.
In southeast Texas, there appears to be confusion over a potential matchup. Republican State Reps. Phil Stephenson (Wharton) and Jacey Jetton (Richmond) have been reported to be in a potential matchup in House District 26 in Fort Bend County, although Stephenson’s candidate filings show the lawmaker living in bordering Wharton County.
A third potential matchup could take place in either House District 19 or 73. State Rep. Kyle Biedermann, who currently represents HD 73, saw the district’s counties split up. With the new drawings, Biedermann’s Fredericksburg home would be located in the new HD 19—which would pit him against State Rep. Terry Wilson (Marble Falls), who lives in Burnet County.
However, shortly after the maps were released, Biedermann noted on Twitter that he also owns a home in Comal County, which would be located in the new HD 73.
Notably, this is the same seat that Democrat Erin Zwiener (Driftwood) has been redistricted into.
Slaton’s District Stays the Same
Throughout the legislative session, speculation ran high throughout the state Capitol that State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) of House District 2 would find himself paired up with another member in an attempt by House Republican leadership to oust the outspoken freshman.
However, despite all the talk, those members decided to forego a matchup with Slaton, potentially concerned about a difficult primary campaign ahead. When the new maps were released, Slaton had the rare distinction of keeping his district exactly the same: the counties of Hunt, Hopkins, and Van Zandt.
Only a First Draft
As with all of the redistricting maps that have trickled out this month, these House district proposals are only a first draft, and lawmakers have plenty of opportunity to tweak them before their final approval.
In the immediate future, the House Committee on Redistricting is scheduled to hold a hearing at 9 a.m. on Monday, October 4.
After their eventual approval in that committee, the maps will be presented to the entire House, where members will have the opportunity to offer their own amendments to the proposal.
The clock is ticking, however, on the current third special session—which ends on October 20—to accomplish this. Capitol sources have suggested a fourth special session to address redistricting is a likely possibility.