To the grumblings of Democrats on the committee who wanted more time to examine the proposed changes, Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), the chairman of the committee, went forward with consideration of them into the early hours of Tuesday.
While the map as first introduced by Hunter would establish 85 Republican-leaning districts, the map adopted by the committee on Tuesday afternoon would build up more support for GOP incumbents at the cost of leaving 84 Republican-leaning seats across the state.
The first amendments adopted by the committee appeared to make subtle changes to the map, such as one from Rep. Jacey Jetton (R-Richmond) that would shift the location of six residents and a commercial airport.
But before long, the committee unanimously adopted an amendment sponsored by Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) that he said was agreed to by the all-GOP delegation from Collin County.
The effects of that amendment, though, could ripple through to affect the total number of Republican legislators that are in the chamber in the next regular session.
Due to its rapid population growth, a new House district had to be shifted into the county.
Under Hunter’s initial plan, the partisan leanings in the county would have been spread more evenly among the delegation so that Republicans would be favored in each of the districts.
However, with Goldman’s amendment, all of the GOP incumbents in the county and one of the two open seats would favor Republicans, while the partisan leaning of House District (HD) 70 would shift to give Democrats a slight favor.
Looking at election results between the two major parties in 2018 and 2020, Democrats would have won on average with 49.5 percent of the vote.
If the map stays roughly the same through the legislative process, HD 70 would become the most competitive district in the Lone Star State.
While the district currently belongs to Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney), Sanford announced that he would not be seeking reelection a few weeks ago. Further, the adopted amendment would draw Sanford into Rep. Jeff Leach’s (R-Plano) district.
The short-term loss for Republicans could be safer for the GOP to maintain a majority in the long-term, particularly if the quickly growing suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex continue swinging toward Democrats.
Besides the boost to the Collin County incumbents, Rep. Hugh Shine (R-Temple) would also benefit from the amendments adopted last night.
Sponsored by Jetton, one amendment that was adopted by Republicans in an eight to seven vote would shift voters in the district to push Shine’s district to an R-58% district while lowering Rep. Brad Buckley’s (R-Killeen) number of Republican voters to give him an R-55% district.
That amendment was opposed by Democrats, who specifically expressed concerns that the changes would unlawfully split a community of minority voters in Killeen.
Some amendments by Democrats, such as one to reshuffle the Travis County delegation to place Reps. Donna Howard (D-Austin) and Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) back into the regions of the county they are currently in, were adopted by the committee without objection.
However, others, such as an amendment sponsored by Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) that would affect only the all-Democrat Rio Grande Valley delegation and that he said was agreed to by them, were objected to by Republicans on the committee without much explanation.
Other Democrat-sponsored amendments that were shot down included measures to salvage the districts of Reps. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) and Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), which would both shift toward Republicans under the proposal.
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.