Scott Hochberg: Politically Extinct Due to Redistricting?

A marathon session in the state House of Representatives has produced a proposed redistricting map, and it's bad news for two Houston Democrats: Scott Hochberg and Hubert Vo.

Houston loses one district under the map, and in the game of musical chairs, it will be Hochberg and Vo fighting it out.

Hochberg especially seems targeted. He's long been considered a knowledgeable legislator, especially on education, but some colleagues wish he'd just shut up sometimes.

In the debate, which lasted until the wee, wee hours of this morning, Hochberg noted that the proposed lines cut one apartment district in his current district in half.

"That defies all concepts of communities of interest," he said.

The map, of course, has a long way to go before it becomes law -- the state senate has to consider it, and there will no doubt be lengthy courtroom fights.

Democrats had almost no say in the proceedings because of the House GOP supermajority, and minority groups have already said the new map harms them.

Among them: Asian-Americans in Fort Bend.

The Texas Asian American Redistricting Initiative says the proposed map scatters the Asian-American population out of the main Sugar Land district.

They also said they were annoyed when the current rep, Charlie Howard, reportedly said he had represented "those people" well in his 16-year tenure.

"Rep. Howard's argument that he has been elected for 16 years by "those people" indicates how insensitive and out of touch he really is to the needs of his Asian American constituency," declared TAARI consultant Mustafa Tameez. "The action taken today will weaken this Asian American community to elect a candidate of their choice."

Democrat Mike Villarreal, vice-chair of the redistricting committee, also slammed the map:

The Census Bureau reports that Hispanic, African-American and Asian residents accounted for 89% of Texas population growth over the last decade, with Hispanics accounting for 65% of the state's growth. The Legislature must create an additional 'Hispanic opportunity district' in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy County in order to reflect demographic changes in the state. However, the proposal actually reduces 'Hispanic opportunity districts' by eliminating District 33 in Nueces County without restoring it elsewhere.

The proposed map also eliminates two 'coalition districts,' District 133 and District 149 in Harris County. By failing to reflect the state's demographic changes, and failing to keep local communities intact, the proposal denies voters fair representation in the Legislature.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly