Like her proposed Senate map, the proposed SBOE map from Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would pare back the partisan competition that was bound to lead to close races in the future.
In particular, the changes would help bolster Republican support for SBOE members Will Hickman (R-District 6), Tom Maynard (R-District 10), and Pam Little (R-District 12), whose districts were all carried by Gov. Abbott in 2018 but where President Trump did not fare as well in 2020 — being outperformed by Biden in Districts 6 and 12 and only narrowly carrying District 10.
With the proposed boundaries, Abbott would have carried each of those districts with over 60 percent of the vote and Trump would have carried each with 55 percent, 60 percent, and 57 percent in Districts 6, 10, and 12, respectively.
One other competitive seat which had previously been in Republican control but was lost to Democrats in 2018 would be given more Democratic voters under Huffman’s plan.
While President Biden carried her district with 53 percent of the vote in 2020, Rebecca Bell-Metereau (D-District 5) was elected by a much closer margin with only 49 percent against a Republican and a Libertarian.
With the new proposal, District 5 would have been carried by Biden with 61 percent of the vote, practically ensuring a more certain race for Bell-Metereau in the future.
The changes would leave one competitive seat in District 2, which would contain the Rio Grande Valley and wrap around much of Texas’ coast.
Currently held by a Democrat, Ruben Cortez, Jr. (D-District 2), who was last in 2018 with 54 percent of the vote, the district had been carried by Trump with 51 percent but would have been carried by him with only 49 percent slightly ahead of Biden according to the new lines.
Two SBOE incumbents were paired so that they now live within the same, Democrat-leaning district: Lawrence Allen (D-District 4) and Matt Robinson (R-District 7).
The new plan redraws Allen’s primarily Harris County district so that it no longer includes a portion of Fort Bend County, but rather dips down into Galveston County to cover the portion of Friendswood where Robinson lives.
Robinson, a physician who was a trustee for Friendswood ISD for a decade, told The Texan that he believes the new maps were “vindictive” because of his voting record in opposition to several charter school applicants.
Though he publicly stated several weeks ago that he would not be seeking reelection, Robinson says he’s concerned that the change would disenfranchise the Republican voters in Friendswood who would end up in District 4, 73 percent of whom voted for Trump.
Lawmakers will have up to 30 days throughout the special legislative session that began on Monday to approve the new maps, which will likely be amended at least to some degree.
Besides bringing District 4 down to Friendswood, Robinson said he was pleased that the new map would shore up support for his Republican colleagues in the district.
Redistricting is often challenged in court, though in the previous decade, the SBOE map was the least controversial out of the four maps that lawmakers drew.
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.