I won't bury the lede: The Republicans in charge of redistricting in Texas finally put out a new map on Tuesday:
(click for version with urban insets)
It's a devilish gerrymander that makes the Illinois map look like a goo-goo wet dream — and very likely runs afoul of the VRA. I suspect the GOP knows this, but wanted to start with as extreme a "negotiating" position as possible when this heads to court. There's already an extensive discussion of the new map in wwmiv's diary, and I'll also refer you to Greg Wythe's trio of posts (here, here, and here) dissecting the plan. If you want to take a deep dive into the map, click here and go to "Select Plans" in the menu bar on the top left, then "Base Plan," then pick PLANC125, the Solomons-Seliger proposal.
But I also can't let go of the backstory here. Just a few days ago, lawmakers said they had no map prepared — none whatsoever. They appeared to beg Gov. Rick Perry to give them time to undertake redistricting in a special session, a session which Perry was bizarrely reluctant to call. He later entertained the idea, but only if the lege could promise him a map in two or three days, something which seemed remote given that legislators had kept saying they had nothing in the office. Still, it looked possible that such mapmaking could get tacked on to a session that was expected be called to reform the state's windstorm insurance program — but even this windstorm idea was potentially just pretextual. (Why would you need a pretext to call a session on redistricting? Like this whole saga, it's a mystery.)
Then Perry's hand got forced, via a Democratic filibuster on a must-pass budget bill that ran the clock out on the regular session over the weekend. So Perry had to order a special session immediately after the normal one concluded. In convening this session, Perry initially did not include redistricting on the agenda (something by law the governor must do if the legislature is to undertake work on a particular topic). But yesterday, as if by magic, Republicans produced a fully-formed map — clearly the work of many days or weeks, not something cobbled together in an afternoon on Memorial Day. Then, tada! Perry added redistricting to the calendar, which, if I had to guess, means he expects a quick vote on the new plan. But after all this insanity, I'm out of the guessing game.
The fact is that none of this makes any sense. If the GOP had a federal map ready to go during the regular session (and clearly they did), why didn't they push it through then? Why force a special session — and why go through all this additional kabuki about when and why to schedule it? Nothing at all is going to end up differently than it otherwise would. In a season full of unexpected redistricting stories, this one takes the cake as the strangest by far — and we still have some 35 states left to go!
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