"The Brief: Feb. 29, 2012" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
The Big Conversation:
Texas' map-making maelstrom has come to an end, at least for now.
The San Antonio federal panel tasked with redrawing the state's maps on Tuesday unveiled congressional and state House maps, in time for the state to holds its primaries May 29. The new maps likely settle the state's boundaries for the 2012 elections, but not beyond that.
Attorney General Greg Abbott praised the court's move. "I consider these interim maps to be a substantial improvement over the maps previously issued by the San Antonio court," he said. "The court properly rejected demands by some plaintiffs to draw drastic and over-reaching maps."
The court didn't order a May 29 election date, but barring further U.S. Supreme Court intervention, the elections will likely proceed — months later than their originally scheduled date (first in March, then in April), but a month sooner than the June 26 primary the state faced if the judges had taken another week to release the maps.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, the new maps appear to resemble a deal previously negotiated between Abbott and the Latino Redistricting Task Force, a coalition of plaintiffs that sued the state. As with those plans, which weren't approved, the new maps create two majority-minority congressional districts and split Travis County into five districts, pushing longtime Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, into a heavily Hispanic, Republican district that runs from the southern border of Tarrant County to Hays County, south of Austin.
Doggett immediately announced in a news release that he would run in the new district. "As an effective advocate for schools, veterans, health care and retirement security, my service fits well with the neighborhoods that have now been joined from South San Antonio to North Austin," he said. "I will continue the visits with working families that I already have under way. And I will continue to stand up to Rick Perry and other extremists, whose misguided policies are threatening our families' security."
The state Democratic Party called the maps slightly better than those passed by the Republican-led Legislature but said "they still grossly misrepresent the demographics of our state."
The maps for the state House largely resemble those agreed upon by Abbott and the task force. The court also signed off on state Senate maps agreed to earlier this month that restored the district of Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.
- In a campaign video released Tuesday, David Dewhurst attacks Republican rival Ted Cruz over the donations his law firm has made to Democrats — including Barack Obama. "Why has Ted Cruz chosen to partner with liberal activists that fund Democrats?" the ad asks.
- Ron Paul won neither Arizona nor Michigan on Tuesday, and doesn't appear likely to pick up any delegates from either state. But he brushed aside the two losses on Tuesday night, telling a crowd of supporters in Virginia, which votes next week, that he plans to keep vying for delegates en route to the Republican National Convention “They keep asking about winning particular states in this campaign, but guess what? We’re still winning a lot of delegates," Paul said. "Winning the primaries is very, very important. But winning the general election will also be very, very important. It is our message that appeals to independents and Democrats and the Republican base."
- As the Tribune's Thanh Tan reports, ranking members of the Legislature's public health committees this week defended Republican state lawmakers’ decision to end the entire Women's Health Program — which provides contraception and cancer screenings — rather than let Planned Parenthood participate. "I guess we all need to see what it looks like when we don’t have it, and then we may need to regroup at that point," said state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, the chairwoman of the House Public Health Committee.
"It pains me to think that there’d be another 32-year-old diagnosed with breast cancer and not be able to get screened or treated until stage 4, whereas I was treated at stage 1 and had a much better outcome." — State Rep. Sarah Davis, a Houston Republican and breast cancer survivor, on the likely demise of the state's Women's Health Program
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