Category Archives: TEXAS

Rep. Vela to Resign; Another Special?

Texas Congressional Redistricting Map (click here or on map to see larger, interactive version)

By Jim Ellis

March 28, 2022 — If the upcoming Alaska special election isn’t complex enough, with the top-four jungle primary feature complete with Ranked Choice Voting that will be used to replace the late at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), the developing situation in Texas may be even more confusing.

A year ago March, five-term South Texas Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) announced that he would not seek re-election in 2022, becoming one of the first sitting incumbents to enter into lame duck status. Late last week Vela made public his intention to resign in the “next few weeks” in order to accept a position with the Akin Gump law firm.

Texas election law states that a vacancy in office must be filled at the next regular election, or earlier if the governor rules that an emergency exists. In a similar situation before the regular 2018 election, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called an emergency special election to immediately replace resigned GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold. Current Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) won his initial election as a result.

In the current political climate, with the country facing record inflation, sky-high energy prices, a border crisis, oil and gas production limitations as a matter of policy, and a hostile invasion in eastern Europe not seen since the days of Adolph Hitler in the pre-World War II period, the governor could easily claim that enough issues need addressing by a full Texas delegation. Therefore, he could justify calling an immediate special election.

If so, the situation becomes interesting. The winner of Rep. Vela’s 34th District open Democratic primary on March 1 was sitting 15th District Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen). He is seeking re-election in the 34th with Rep. Vela’s endorsement instead of in his original district that is trending more Republican. Therefore, if a special election is held prior to the regular election, Rep. Gonzalez would have to resign his 15th CD seat upon winning the subsequent election, thus creating another short-term vacancy.

Continue reading

Rep. Taylor Withdraws From Race

Former Texas Collin County Judge (Executive) Keith Self is now the new 3rd District Republican nominee after north Texas area Congressman Van Taylor (R-Plano) decided to withdraw from the runoff election resulting from Tuesday’s primary.

By Jim Ellis

March 4, 2022 — It was on a somewhat surprising note that north Texas area Congressman Van Taylor (R-Plano) was forced into a runoff from Tuesday’s primary election, but Wednesday’s related events proved astonishing.

Rep. Taylor has announced that he is withdrawing from the runoff, making public an extra-marital affair in which he engaged. Apparently, affair rumors began to surface late in the primary contest. Clearly knowing the story would become public, he admitted the indiscretion and immediately departed the race.

Under Texas election procedure, a candidate qualifying for a runoff election can decline to participate. The concession means the opponent automatically wins the party nomination. Thus, former Collin County Judge (Executive) Keith Self is the new 3rd District Republican nominee with an accompanying ticket to Washington, DC after the Nov. 8 election.

Taylor only secured 48.7 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, meaning that a majority of Republican primary voters chose another candidate. This is never a good sign for any incumbent and the chief reason that most incumbents fail when forced to the secondary election. Adding the personal baggage obviously told Rep. Taylor that his re-election chances were irreparably diminished.

Self is a retired career West Point Academy Army officer who placed second in the primary with 27.1 percent, outlasting third-place finisher Suzanne Harp, a hard-charging businesswoman who proved to be surprisingly strong. The new congressional nominee presided over Collin County, an entity with now more than 1 million people, for three terms and chose to retire in 2018. In the congressional primary, he campaigned to Rep. Taylor’s right.

Continue reading

Redistricting After-Effects

Click the map above or this link to go to an interactive version: Dave’s Redistricting App

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 24, 2022 — As more states complete their redistricting process and additional data becomes available, we are beginning to catch a glimpse of each party’s path to either keeping or re-claiming the House majority in the coming midterm election.

The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization along with the Dave’s Redistricting App operation are the two data groups that are charting each district as the states complete their decennial task of drawing new congressional district boundaries.

At this point, we have usable projection data from the two organizations in 350 of the nation’s 435 congressional districts, meaning newly completed maps in all but eight states. (FiveThirtyEight has not yet analyzed the new North Carolina map because the court has not yet given final approval, but Dave’s App has calculated based upon the version now before the judicial panel.) As an aside, several of the outstanding states are large, including Florida (28 congressional districts), Ohio (15 CDs: map was complete but rejected before the state Supreme Court), and Pennsylvania (17 CDs).

At this point we can see, after analyzing each of the 350 completed districts, that redistricting in and of itself will return only a narrow advantage to one party or the other. Considering the still incomplete outstanding states, it is unclear which political entity may earn a slight advantage once the entire process is finalized. Currently, newly created maps are complete (or pending court approval) in 42 states, including five of the six at-large domains whose single-state districts are included in the aforementioned aggregate number.

The FiveThirtyEight projections and Dave’s Redistricting App agree on party advantage in 344 of the completed districts even though they used different mathematical formulas and election complexion to arrive at their conclusions. Therefore, the assigned D or R-plus ratings from FiveThirtyEight consistently align with Dave’s numerical projections for Democratic and Republican strength in each of the 344 CDs.

Of the six districts where the two organizations disagree over party advantage, in each of the half-dozen CDs, the FiveThirtyEight data has projected a stronger Republican number. Three of the six lie in the state of Michigan.

The conflicting districts are:

STATE-DIST MEMBER FiveThirtyEight DAVE R DAVE D
CO-8 NEW SEAT            R+3 46.91% 48.24%
MI-7 SLOTKIN, ELISSA            R+4 47.75% 49.18%
MI-8 KILDEE, DAN            R+1 46.05% 50.84%
MI-10 CREATED SEAT            R+6 47.82% 49.44%
TX-15 CREATED SEAT            EVEN 46.73% 51.02%
VA-2 LURIA, ELAINE            R+6 48.35% 49.58%

(Note: a “New Seat” is one drawn in a state that was awarded an extra seat, or two in the case of Texas, through national reapportionment. A “created seat” is a new open district that came as a result of the redistricting process.)

Totaling the 344 districts where FiveThirtyEight and the Dave’s App are in agreement as to party advantage, the Democrats would gain 12 Republican, new, or created districts; while the GOP would gain 10 Democratic, new, or created seats.

Continue reading

Alabama Map Ruling Stayed; Redistricting Update

By Jim Ellis

Alabama redistricting map (Click on the map above or go to DavesRedistricting.org to see interactive map)

Feb. 9, 2022 — On a 5-4 vote, the US Supreme Court voted to stay the lower court ruling that invalidated the new Alabama congressional map. A Republican three-judge panel had ruled that a second majority minority district could have been drawn among the state’s seven congressional districts, and thus disqualified the plan on Jan. 23.

Writing a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh stated that the lower court decision was made too close to the 2022 election, meaning that the judicial process would not have proper time to hear the appeal and make an educated ruling prior to the state’s scheduled primary election. The ruling does not mean the appeal was granted, but merely postpones hearing the case to a later date.

Analysts say the stay ensures that the original map will be in place for this year’s election. It does not mean, however, that the map won’t be altered for the 2024 election and beyond.

The new plan is virtually an extension of the current map, which elected six Republicans and one Democrat in the 2020 election. It was a curious original decision, not only because the judges that ruled against the GOP map drawers were appointed by former President Donald Trump (2) and the late President Ronald Reagan (1), but that the same map footprint stood unencumbered for the past 10 years.

The major change made from the current map to the new draw came in the 7th CD, which is the Voting Rights district. The legislature, however, had no choice but to make a substantial change. AL-7 was 53,143 people short of reaching the state’s congressional district population quota of 717,754 individuals.

The previous ruling also postponed the Jan. 28 candidate filing deadline for the Alabama US House candidates. Those running for all other offices have now already filed and been qualified for the respective party primary ballots. The congressional candidates will now file on Feb. 11.

Redistricting Notes

• Summarizing the legal action in other states, the North Carolina map has been disqualified and the legislature will now return to redraw the congressional and state legislative maps. As has been the case throughout the previous decade, the partisan Republican legislature and the partisan Democratic state Supreme Court continue to go back and forth over the issue of partisan gerrymandering.

• The lower court ruling in Michigan rejected the Detroit area Democratic current and former state legislators’ claim that the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission members violated the Voting Rights Act in drawing the city of Detroit’s congressional and state legislative maps. Unless an appeal is granted, the new Michigan maps will stand for this year’s elections.

• The Kansas legislature adjourned without voting to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto of the state’s congressional map. The hasty adjournment move, however, allows the legislature to reconsider the veto override. Without a successful override vote, the map will go to the courts for a redrawing of the Kansas City metro area.

Continue reading

Redistricting Challenges – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 25, 2022 — Today we begin a two-part series about incumbent US House members who could be considered redistricting “victims”, meaning those who find themselves in districts with a largely unfamiliar constituency.

A total of 27 states have completed their redistricting process, and 41 incumbents seeking re-election in these places will be in new seats where a majority of the electorate has not previously seen their names on the congressional ballot.

Interestingly, many of the changes are positive for some of the members in question, because the new constituents are favorable to the incumbent’s party. Others, however, face potentially tough re-nomination or re-election battles, and some will see challenges coming from both Republicans and Democrats.

Interestingly, the four incumbents with the most new constituents, those having a district where a range from just 10 to 20 percent of their current electorates are present in the new CD, actually chose to run in the new places. Each eschewed a seat where they have a larger number of current voters.


Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) has the least carryover of any member from a redistricting completed state. Moving from his current 35th District into the new 37th CD means just 10.0 percent of his current constituents reside in the succeeding district. Placing Doggett here was not the intent of the map drawers, however, as the 37th was meant to be one of the state’s two new seats, a Democratic district fully contained within Austin’s Travis County.

Doggett’s 35th District is now the open seat, in a domain that again stretches from Austin to San Antonio. Had he stayed in the 35th, a total of 60.7 percent of his constituency would have remained constant, according to the Daily Kos Elections site statisticians who have calculated the redistribution percentages for all of the states that have completed redistricting.

Rep. Doggett faces little in the way of Democratic primary opposition, and the new 37th is a similar Austin-anchored seat to his original 10th District in which he began his US House career back in 1995.

North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) chose to run in the 13th District, which was designed to be that state’s new seat. Despite having only 11.1 percent of his current constituency in the new district, Rep. Cawthorn likes his chances. The 13th lies closer to the Charlotte metro area in comparison to his current western North Carolina seat.

Continue reading