State, LULAC submit ideas for new Texas congressional map
Jul 14, 12:18 PM EDT
State, LULAC submit ideas for new Texas congressional
By APRIL CASTRO
Associated Press Writer
AUSTIN (AP) -- Texas Republicans proposed Friday a
congressional map that puts Laredo back into the same
district, creating a new, vast West Texas district.
If U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo,
chooses to run in his home county, he would take over
the district now represented by Republican Henry
The Supreme Court ruled that district unconstitutional
because it split Laredo in two, diluting the voting
strength of the city that is 94 percent Hispanic.
The state's plan is one of several being submitted to
a three-judge federal panel by Friday's deadline. The
panel must determine what congressional voting lines
will be used in November's election.
Cuellar, would be placed in a district that stretches
from the eastern edge of El Paso through West Texas,
curves around San Antonio's southern edge and heads
south to Laredo.
The state's plan would create a new 23rd District from
Blanco, Kendall and Kerr County, allowing Bonilla to
run in a district centered in the conservative Hill
Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz said the state's plan
"would correct the Supreme Court's legal concerns
regarding district 23, and otherwise fully respect the
legislative preferences of the already enacted
Cruz noted that 28 congressional districts were left
unaltered, tinkering only with the 23rd District and
three adjoining ones.
The federal panel has scheduled oral arguments for
Aug. 3 in Austin.
The League of United Latin American Citizens proposed
to make seven of the state's 32 congressional
districts majority Hispanic, including the
unconstitutional West Texas district.
Both LULAC proposals would put the city of Laredo back
into one congressional district: One proposal puts it
in the 23rd, represented now by Bonilla; the other
would put it in the 28th Congressional District, now
Putting all of Laredo back into the 23rd district
could pit Bonilla against Cuellar, who is from Laredo.
The state, the Mexican American Legal Defense and
Educational Fund and other Democratic and minority
right's activists were expected to submit their maps
A MALDEF attorney said its proposed map did not tackle
politics, though the redistricting process is
traditionally one of the most politically charged
issues lawmakers take up.
"Our map was aimed at meeting the mandate of the
Supreme Court, thereby protecting the rights of
Latinos, not protecting any political party or any
political calculations," said MALDEF attorney Luis
Figueroa. "We were focused on ... protecting those
Latinos whose rights were infringed by the previous
The high court did not set a deadline for a new map,
but changes would have to be made soon to be effective
in the November general election.
The GOP-controlled Legislature redrew the map in 2003
to put more Republicans in office.
Democrats and minority groups sued the state, accusing
Republicans of an unconstitutional power grab in
drawing boundaries that booted four Democrats from
office. The district boundaries were effective for the
2004 congressional elections.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose office
defended the state before the court, argued that the
redrawn boundaries reflect the preferences of Texas
voters. Abbott spokeswoman Angela Hale said the office
would submit a proposed substitute on Friday, but
would not comment on it.
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