Texas 21

Devoted to discussion about the 21st Congressional District of Texas. Currently occupied by Congressman Lamar Smith (R).

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Redistricting Limbo

The latest round of redistricting promises to screw Travis County once again, at least if the RPoTties have their way.

And it seems very likely that TX-21 will be effected, though we will not know precisely how until after the Aug 3 hearing.

Several sources of really solid analysis already exist, so I suggest checking them out if you're interested.

The Lone Star Project is doing great work keeping up with all the ins and outs of this long, protacted mess. And, I love that they're not afraid to come right out and call a partisan hack wearing the mask of a public servant just that:

Perry/Craddick/Dewhurst Plan (1418C) is partisan and disruptive
Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, on behalf of the State Republican leadership, forfeited the opportunity to represent all Texans by submitting a proposed redistricting plan that is even more disruptive than and just as partisan as Tom DeLay’s 2003 plan. The Perry brief essentially says the Court should place higher priority on partisan interests than restoring the Voting Rights of Hispanic voters.

No wonder that Lamar Smith was part of the shameful cabal that resisted renewing the Voting Rights Act for so long. That's the only snag in the TRMPAC takeover-well, and the illegality, of course...

Courtesy of the Dallas Morning News:

At issue was the DeLay committee's improper use of more than $200,000 in soft money to help elect candidates in 2002 and failure to report nearly $325,000 in debts owed to campaign vendors.

In particular, ARMPAC spent $121,000 for voter drives, including $50,000 in Texas, and more than $100,000 for fundraising events that should have been covered by so-called "hard money" contributions.

Soft money is contributions from corporations and individuals that are largely unrestricted in amount and, as a result, can only be used for limited purposes such as administrative costs and generic party-building activities. Hard money contributions are sharply limited in amount and can be used to elect candidates.

Known by its acronym ARMPAC, the committee provided $50,000 in seed money and the assistance of political operatives to launch a Texas group at the heart of Mr. DeLay's plan to boost the GOP by redrawing congressional lines.

Texans for a Republican Majority used $190,000 in corporate money in 2002 to help elect Republican legislative candidates, who took control of the Texas House and drew new congressional lines that added five new GOP seats in Congress.

In May 2005, a judge hearing a civil lawsuit filed by Democrats in Texas ruled that TRMPAC had violated Texas election laws.

Kuff has a link to the PDF of an analysis, including maps.

And CQ has a synopsis of the various plans submitted.

As required, the long list of remedial proposals currently under consideration all make changes to the 23rd District lines. The proposed maps all also reconfigure three other districts, though in widely varying combinations. One is the 21st, a Republican-leaning district in the San Antonio-Austin region that is represented by Republican Lamar Smith. A second is the 25th, a heavily Hispanic district that stretches 300 miles from Austin to the Mexico border and is represented by “Anglo” Democrat Lloyd Doggett, who previously represented an Austin-centered district. The third is the 28th District, held by Cuellar.

Three of the major proposals would redraw just those four districts: a map submitted by Texas Republican defendants, which is being defended by the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott; a map from a group of Texas Democratic voters known as the Jackson plaintiffs; and one of two maps submitted by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). But a map submitted jointly by Bonilla, Cuellar and Smith would affect the lines of three additional districts along with those common four.

Other plaintiffs include Travis County, which includes Austin and whose lawyers submitted two remedial maps, and the GI Forum of Texas, a Hispanic group that is represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

This time, redistricting is a game almost everybody can play...

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Tale of Two Votes

Update: The two leaders in the Mapchangers Contest, John Courage and Bill Winter, have posted an open letter to Mark Warner requesting that he agree to do fundraisers for both of them. Sounds like a win/win to me.

Both these gentlemen are great candidates, facing particularly odious incumbents. Time for Lamar and Tancredo to retire to their lucrative lobbying careers.

As previously reported here, John Courage made it into the final round of Mark Warner's Mapchanger contest.

Today is the final day of voting. At this moment, thanks to the support of Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Chris Bell, who asked his supporters to vote for John rather than split the Texas vote, John is leading the votes.

If you haven't yet voted, please do so now.

If you have voted, please encourage your friends to get behind this united Texas ticket. It will benefit all of the TDPs candidates, because the Courage campaign has committed the first $15k raised from the Warner fundraiser to finance development of internet tools available statewide.

(There may be a further development to report on this morning regarding Mapchangers. I'll let you know as soon as I hear details.)

And there's another chance to cast a vote that will bring money and a higher profile to Texas. Barbara Ann Radnofsky is in the mix for support from Senator Barbara Boxer's PAC for a Change.

Winning this endorsement will mean a fundraising email sent out by Senator Boxer in support of BAR that will not only generate much needed campaign cash, but further raise Texas profile as a place where the Democratic action is.

You know what to do.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Light posting for the next few days

As I'm headed for a family reunion over the holiday.

If you've popped over from the Netroots page, welcome, and please feel free to wander around the archives. Mixed in with the event announcements are a few articles that may be of interest.

Happy Independence Day to all.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Word From Chris Bell

Vote for John Courage in the Final Round of the MapChangers Contest. Bring Mark Warner to Texas for a fundraiser that will help create the tools to coordinate our campaigns for candidates up and down the Democratic ticket.

This is a very classy and smart move on the part of the Bell and Courage campaigns. As a bonus, this is the kind of move I've been hoping to see that marks Bell as the leader he must show himself to be to convince ordinary working Texans that he is not only on their side, but that he'll be fighting for them.

Congratulations again to both Team Bell and Team Courage.

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your help!

With your help over the past two weeks, we smashed our online fundraising goal and advanced to the finals of Mark Warner's Map Changer contest. We also asked you to join is in supporting the other Texas campaigns in this contest, and you came through by sending John Courage into the finals as well. It's a great example of what Texas Democrats can accomplish when we work together.

Now as we start the final round, there are ten candidates from across the country vying to win a fundraiser with Governor Warner. Voting runs through July 10th, and you can only vote for one candidate. It's a testament to the strength of the Texas netroots that we have two Texans into final ten, and we'll need every bit of that strength to bring Mark Warner to Texas. That's why we need to work together to make sure we do not split our votes.

I've talked with John Courage and we've decided that, in the spirit of Texas unity, and on behalf of all Democratic candidates and activists across Texas, we will ask all of our supporters to join together:

Please vote for John Courage in this contest.


John is a great Democrat and a great candidate, and he finished the second round only a handful of votes shy of being the leading vote-getter nationwide. We believe that if we can pull together and get all of Texas behind John Courage and take him to victory, that we can accomplish a much greater victory for all of us across the state

Our new field director, Glen Maxey, is working with activists and campaigns all across the state to build a website at TrueBlueAction.com that will offer netroots organizing tools that will help Democrats win in November and beyond. If we can put John Courage over the top, he has agreed to use the first $15,000 raised at the Mark Warner fundraiser to underwrite the development of these tools and this website. These tools will help us across the state for years to come, and they will only get better as we build and improve on them.

The TrueBlueAction.com web site is under construction and is being developed as a open access site with lots of organizing tools for candidates and activists to use to register and turn out Democratic votes. It will be open for the use of local, state and federal candidates. It will be open for the use on any individual wanting to help the Democratic ticket or a candidate.

That's why winning this contest is bigger than John Courage or me. It's about what all Texas Democrats can accomplish if we work together. By voting for John Courage in the Map Changer contest, you will be helping all Democratic candidates in Texas.

Vote today: http://www.forwardtogetherpac.com/mapchangers

Vote for Texas. Vote for Courage.

In unity,

Chris Bell
Chris Bell

P.S. I need to thank you again for helping us smash our goal on our online fundraising drive. We set a goal of raising $25,000 through our website in the last two weeks of June. With your help, we ended up bringing in more than $40,000 from grassroots Texans. The momentum keeps building as we get closer to November, and I'm glad to have you at my side in this fight.

So NOW Lamar's Worried About the Tab

This little item is especially ironic given the last entry. WOAI in San Antonio reports about a serious shortfall in stateside funding for military bases. Include right here in TX21:

And Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio hasn't been able to pay its $1.4-million monthly utility bill since March, prompting the energy company's automated computer system to mail out 1,300 disconnection notices for many of the post's administrative buildings.

CPS Energy spokesman Bob McCullough insists the company understands the problem and won't turn off the lights any time soon.

But Col. Wendy Martinson, Fort Sam's garrison commander, still lies awake at night worrying about what services she can afford to lose and what services she can't - but will have to cut anyway.

"Every time something goes away it impacts a person ... a soldier or their family or one of our civilians," said Martinson, whose post has 27,300 military and civilian workers. "I'm charged with taking care of them, not taking things away from them."

Spoken like a real leader. One who's concerned with taking care of her troops and making sure they and their families have what they need to complete the mission.

Lamar's response to this problem is a classic of misdirection:

In a letter to Army Secretary Francis Harvey, (Lamar) Smith said he worries the budget crisis will affect Fort Sam's ability to accommodate the 11,000 additional personnel being sent there starting next year by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

"That Fort Sam cannot even pay for basic post operations is, frankly, Mr. Secretary, a disgrace," he said.

That's like the Congressional equivalent of "How can I be broke, I still have checks."

Lamar really likes to spend your money

Even the conservative mouthpiece not so affectionately known on the Left as the Moonie Times objects to Lamar's appetite for spending your money:

Some well-known conservative Republicans -- including Reps. Dana Rohrabacher of California, Mike Pence of Indiana, Lamar Smith of Texas and J.D. Hayworth of Arizona -- were nearly twice as extravagant as the typical House member. What part of "conservative" do they not understand?
Apparently, the part about not making checks you can't cash completely escaped them.

Lamar Smith Wants to Gag Your Police Dept

Unbelievable as this is, according to the Ft Morgan Times , Lamar Smith is the chief sponsor of a bill that will prevent gun trace information from being shared.

While it's probably aimed at studies showing the effects of current lax enforcement of gun laws there are some additional consequences:

The proposal also handicaps law enforcement by putting blinders on the police. It would keep the police from seeing a big picture that gun trace information may paint. Police would only be allowed to view the information that relates to their own jurisdiction, as if crime stopped at city borders. Worse, cops who violated that ban could be subject to prosecution. That's crazy.

Oh, and the bill hampers law enforcement in another way -- eliminating a current requirement that dealers alert authorities when they sell more than two guns in five days to the same person. The purpose is to check whether buyers are gun traffickers, from whom outlaws often purchase guns. This provision handcuffs the police and aids criminals.

This is an editorial piece, and doesn't include the bill number. If any of you all know more about it, I'd love to have a look at it. Use the comments, or email me at TX21blog using gmail's domain.

(This is a reprinted from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I've linked both sources, since the FMT is where I found it.)