Concluding several hours of general orchestrated debate between House Republicans and Democrats, the House approved of the proposed boundaries for all 150 Texas House districts as a part of the decennial redistricting process early Wednesday morning.
Most votes on the 50-plus proposed amendments fell purely on partisan lines.
Bottom Line Upfront
The proposed map passed the House with bipartisan support.
Democrat State Reps. Terry Canales (Edinburg), Bobby Guerra (Mission), Oscar Longoria (Mission), and Sergio Munoz Jr. (Mission) joined the majority of Republicans in voting in favor. Notably, two Republican lawmakers voted in opposition to the map: State Reps. Lyle Larson (San Antonio) and Jeff Cason (Bedford).
As passed, the proposed boundaries ultimately exist to bolster support for almost all incumbent lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, with the limited exceptions of districts whose partisan leanings were flipped, including Texas House District 52, currently represented by Democrat State Rep. James Talarico (Round Rock); Texas House District 65, currently represented by Democrat State Rep. Michelle Beckley (Carrollton); and Texas House District 92, currently represented by Republican State Rep. Jeff Cason (Bedford).
The Fight for Texas House District 92
Texas House District 92, currently represented by Cason, was the topic of much discussion by conservative activists leading up to the legislation’s consideration by the House. When the proposed House boundaries were first made public, it was apparent that the proposed boundaries for District 92 would not be favorable to Cason or any Republican in any election effort. Notably, District 92 was the only Republican district written to advantage Democrats, leading many to speculate.
Activists showed up to testify as the proposed boundaries were being considered in the House Redistricting Committee last week, hoping to persuade lawmakers to change Cason’s district in particular, but they were not successful. The committee accepted changes, but none affected the disposition of District 92.
Over the weekend, conservative activists and organizations from all across Texas submitted a coalition letter to members of the House Redistricting Committee and all House Republicans in hopes of convincing them to reconsider.
Late into Tuesday night, Cason offered an amendment to the proposed boundaries that adjusted the House district boundaries specifically in Tarrant County, including District 92. In his introduction, Cason indicated that his amendment “[would] ensure that none of us are targeted in this process,” speaking to what many speculate is explicit targeting by House leadership for his vote against Speaker Phelan when first elected and his consistent support of conservative activists throughout the regular and special legislative sessions.
“I’m offering this amendment today to give this body an opportunity to show that diversity of opinions is welcome in the Legislature,” said Cason. “As I had discussions with many of you, I’m hopeful that this message will be sent today, as these maps are currently the message sent is that independent conservative voices will be silenced whenever possible.”
Republican State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (Southlake) took issue with Cason’s proposal, as it specifically took precincts from his district, Texas House District 98, to allow for Cason’s to be more favorable to a Republican.
Ultimately, the amendment failed by a vote of 17-119, meaning the boundaries for District 92 remain advantageous to a would-be Democrat candidate.
The 16 other lawmakers who voted for the amendment include State Reps. Michelle Beckley (D–Carrollton), Kyle Biedermann (R–Fredericksburg), Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park), Jasmine Crockett (D–Dallas), Brian Harrison (R–Waxahachie), Cole Hefner (R–Mt. Pleasant), Brooks Landgraf (R–Odessa), Mayes Middleton (R–Galveston), Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City), John Smithee (R–Amarillo), Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington), Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands), Cody Vasut (R–Angleton), James White (R–Hillister), and Terry Wilson (R–Marble Falls).
Notably, Republican State Reps. Matt Shaheen (Plano), Matt Schaefer (Tyler), and Matt Krause (Haslet), members of the House Freedom Caucus, voted against Cason’s amendment among the majority of other House lawmakers.
Potential Competitive District for Republicans in the Rio Grande Valley
Another notably successful amendment was offered by Republican State Rep. J.M. Lozano (Kingwood). Following a spirited back-and-forth between Lozano and State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D–Dallas), an amendment that redrew boundaries for Texas House District 37, currently represented by State Rep. Alex Dominguez (D–Brownsville), ultimately makes the district more competitive for Republicans. District 37 currently only includes a portion of Cameron County, sharing the city of Brownsville with outgoing Democrat State Rep. Eddie Lucio III. Now, the district would add in Willacy County; using recent electoral data, this potentially makes the district attainable by a would-be Republican candidate.
After a vote verification was conducted, the amendment was narrowly successful by a vote of 72-70.
Potential Competitive District Made Safer for Democrat
In the originally proposed boundaries, Democrat State Rep. Erin Zwiener (Driftwood) was drawn out of her own district, Texas House District 45. A successful late-night amendment changed the boundaries to instead include her residence, allowing her to stave off a potential election cycle that heavily favored a Republican candidate.
The proposed boundaries will now have to be considered by the Texas Senate. The Senate Special Committee on Redistricting has already scheduled a public hearing on the proposed boundaries for Friday, October 15.
The ongoing third special legislative session will reach its forced conclusion on Tuesday, October 19. It is unclear whether all of the decennial redistricting efforts will make it through the entirety of the legislative process before that deadline.
Proposed boundaries for the 31 state Senate districts, 15 State Board of Education districts, and 38 U.S. congressional districts are currently awaiting consideration by the House.