The Gerrymandering Is Getting Hog Wild in Texas

Charles Pierce / Esquire
The Gerrymandering Is Getting Hog Wild in Texas U.S. rep. Sheila Jackson Lee represents District 18, once represented by Barbara Jordan, who in 1972 became the first Black Texan elected to Congress after Reconstruction. (photo: Leah Mills/Reuters)

More safe Republican seats and crazier primaries? One can hardly wait.

Our semi-regular weekly survey will spend most of its time this week taking a look at gerrymandering shenanigans around the country, because there’s some serious demographic burglary going on out there. We begin in Texas, because everything bad in American politics now comes from Texas. From the New York Times:

Rather than create more Republican congressional districts, the Texas legislature chose to bolster incumbents with even safer districts; there are far fewer toss-up or competitive districts in the proposed map, dealing a blow to any Democratic hopes of flipping a competitive seat or two in Texas during the 2022 midterm elections, and risking deeper polarization through pumped-up primaries…

…For example, seats that were listed as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report in 2020 will now have significant double-digit margins: The 10th Congressional District will see the presidential margin grow from a 2-point Republican advantage to 20, and the 21st District’s margin will rise from 3 points to 20 points, according to a New York Times analysis. More than a dozen proposed districts will have a Republican vote share of at least 60 percent. This defensive redistricting strategy, some election experts argue, could become more prevalent this year in other states.

One of the niftiest bits of burglary committed by the Texas legislature was its proposal to put Rep. Al Green and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee into the same congressional district. From the Texas Tribune:

“It doesn’t look right for the only two persons in the state of Texas to be running against each other in a congressional district from the same party to be of African ancestry,” Green said at a hearing of the the Texas Senate Special Committee on Redistricting.

Green and Jackson Lee are two out of five Black members of Texas’ 36-person congressional delegation, but in the proposed redrawing of the districts, Lee is drawn out of her own district and looped into Green’s. “Thirty-eight districts,” Green said, noting the two new congressional districts added to Texas because of population growth, which was fueled by people of color. “Two African Americans running against each other in the proposed map.”

The racial gerrymandering of the Texas map is enough to gag a maggot, to borrow a phrase from the late Molly Ivins, who’d have lit this whole process on fire by now. It is primarily designed to defuse the demographic land-mine around which the Texas Republicans have been tip-toeing for the last several election cycles. The number of safe Republican seats doubled.

We move along to Georgia, where the gerrymandering is aimed at Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath, the woman who, after her son was killed for playing his music too loudly, got herself elected to Newt Gingrich’s old seat in Congress. The proposed map would take McBath’s current district, which the current president won by 11 points, and drop her into one that the former president* won by six. This is the kind of thing that does not happen by accident. Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop has a bullseye on himself, too.

We move to North Carolina, where we should make note of the fact that they’re warming up for their own lunatic “audit” of the 2020 vote in Durham County, which coincidentally went very big for the president. It is already a circus act. From WRAL:

Rep. Jeff McNeely, R-Iredell, conducted a "random drawing" of a county name out of a hat, and Durham County was chosen. Perhaps coincidentally, Republicans have accused Durham County of voter fraud in the past, especially in 2016, when a late vote tally there swung the governor's race in favor of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper over then-incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. Citing "many, many millions of accusations" of "machine tampering and votes being switched because of modems," McNeely said at a news conference that lawmakers intend to see for themselves whether the machines have modems in them.


Voting machines in North Carolina do not have modems and are not connected to the internet, by state law.

Also, potentially, fisticuffs!

State elections director Karen Brinson Bell has repeatedly told the House Freedom Caucus that no unauthorized person, least of all elected officials, is allowed to "inspect" voting machines. Asked if that's changed, McNeely said he believes state law gives them that authority. "So, we will start with that," he said, "and if we have to use, like I said, our escorts and the [General Assembly] police to help us, we will do whatever it takes to go about our mission.”

And we conclude, as is our custom, in the great state of Oklahoma, whence Blog Official Split-Rail Splitter Friedman of the Plains brings us the tale of how Oklahoma’s governor has joined a general puppet-show at the border. From the Norman Transcript:

[Kevin] Stitt plans to travel to the border town of Mission, Texas, along with governors of Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wyoming. He will get a briefing from the Texas Department of Public Safety and tour the border, his office said Monday. Charlie Hannema, a spokesman for Stitt, said Oklahomans are being directly impacted by the border crisis, which “warrants a day trip for the governor to visit the situation on the ground.”

As my good friend Sen. Joni Ernst said just the other day, and brilliantly: “Now every state is a border state.”

Wow. Never knew that before.

This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.

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