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A redrawn proposal for Texas’s congressional map could pit two sitting Democrats, Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green, against each other in next year’s midterm elections.
Texas will add two congressional seats after a decade of population growth in the state found by the 2020 census, bringing its delegation to 38 members. A proposal for the new map released last month was not as aggressive as some observers of Texas politics expected and would have added both a Republican and Democratic seat while largely protecting incumbent lawmakers.
However, over the weekend, the Texas House and Senate debated a series of changes to the map, including one that would place Jackson Lee in Green’s district, potentially setting up the two long-standing incumbents for a primary. Lawmakers eventually advanced an amendment that would place Jackson Lee back into her original district and would leave portions of Green’s current district intact.
Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds, a Democrat, said in a statement that “now the fight will be to keep the amendment on [the map] that corrected the pairing of Congressman Al Green and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.”
Reynolds was arrested alongside Green at an August protest in favor of federal voting legislation.
Critics of the proposed map say it does not adequately reflect that about 95% of Texas’s population growth was fueled by communities of color, according to Houston Public Media.
“Whatever the 18th Congressional District looks like, I will offer myself to be a servant to those individuals to those voters, and I'll take my chances with the voters,” Jackson Lee said.
Texas Senate and House lawmakers will negotiate the differences in their proposals, including the amendment concerning Jackson Lee and Green, in a conference committee before it is sent to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for approval.
Texas state Rep. Chris Turner, the Texas House Democratic Caucus chairman, said in a statement that Democrats will challenge the map in court.
"Make no mistake — this redistricting plan will undoubtedly land Texas in court once again, and the very Texans who have been denied fair representation will also be on the hook for the legal costs of defending this map," Turner said.
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Original Author: Kate Scanlon