Newly redesigned electoral maps divide New Braunfels from 3 to 4 in Congress

Representation of New Braunfels residents in Congress will be subdivided into new maps approved in the Third Special Session of the 87th Texas Legislature and enacted by Governor Greg Abbott following the 2020 census results.

Most of Comal County will remain in District 21 with a narrower division of District 35 than the previous map. The Guadalupe County side of the city will be divided into two districts both extending to the US-Mexico border. Where on the previous map, this part of town was only part of a district – District 15, according to the new map.

Two seats in the United States House of Representatives were added in Texas due to population growth of 16% over the past decade, according to census data. Each district must land within plus or minus 10% of a district’s ideal size if each had an even distribution of population, according to the legal requirements listed on the Texas Redistribution website. US Representative Chip Roy, R-Austin, the current incumbent of District 21, will run for re-election in that district. However, District 35 will be represented by a new face as current U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, chooses to run in a new district in Travis County, District 37.

Current District 15 Congressman U.S. Representative Vicente Gonzalez D-McAllen chooses to run in another border district because his home has been removed from District 15 in District 34, currently represented by the Retired US Representative Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville and District 28 will once again be part of New Braunfels. The current United States District 28 representative, Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, previously represented part of New Braunfels before the redistribution resulting from the 2010 census.

Changes at the state and congressional levels will be in effect for the primary elections scheduled for March 1.

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With the city split into four lanes and mostly new faces in its Congressional delegation for residents to get to know each other, this will create an opportunity to develop new relationships, New Braunfels Mayor Rusty Brockman said.

“Where people live, it’s going to be a change for some of them, and they’re going to have to get used to making new friendships, new relationships,” Brockman said. “We’re going to have to get used to seeing or talking to someone different.”

On the Texas Legislature side, District 73 has become an open seat as current state representative Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, no longer resides in the district and has refused to run for reelection. . District 73 covered Comal, Gillespie and Kendall counties on the previous map. Now this district covers all of Comal County and the western half of Hays County. House District 44 has also changed, but not on the Guadalupe County side of New Braunfels. State Representative John Kuempel R-Seguin has called for re-election to the district.

New Braunfels has also seen changes in the State Board of Education.

New Braunfels is currently represented by Rebecca Bell-Metereau, Board Member, D-San Marcos, in District 5. The new board map draws New Braunfels from that district to District 10. Where District 5 included New Braunfels in a district that encompassed Austin, San Antonio and much of the Hill Country, the new neighborhood surrounds Austin all the way to College Station in the east, according to the new map.

Division of constituencies

Jonathan Packer, president of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, said having new representatives will require efforts to develop new relationships.

“Our goal is to have active lines of communication no matter who is on our delegation. [and] to facilitate a productive working relationship with the New Braunfels business community, ”Packer said in a statement. “In that case, we’re going to have some relationship building to do, but that’s okay. There are pros and cons to any representational setup.

Jesse Crosson, a political science professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, said the New Braunfels redistribution changes follow a similar pattern to the rest of Texas. That is, create maps that have fewer politically competitive districts than in the past.

“Previously, New Braunfels had several districts in Congress. He really only has one now, ”Crosson said. “The upside is that it has one of the only districts in the entire state of Texas on the map.”

The 15th arrondissement, released by Gonzalez, could be the only remaining competitive arrondissement. In the 2020 election, Gonzalez won with 50.2% of the vote according to the Texas Secretary of State’s office. The projected changes show the district slightly favoring a generic Republican candidate, but that would still be a tossup.

“The other thing worth noting is that the Chip Roy district, which was previously the Lamar Smith district… Now it is a safe and secure neighborhood for Roy. So that’s the biggest high-level difference I would say, both at the state level, but you see it playing out quite strongly in both San Antonio and New Braunfels, ”Crosson said.

Despite the new representation division, Crosson said it should be noted that when a representative visits Washington, DC, they are unlikely to ask for an address if a resident calls Constituent Services to determine if they are. it represents it directly or not. , because the representatives see themselves as serving the whole area anyway.

“Are you going to be treated differently by your representative directly?” I don’t really think it’s going to have that much of an impact. There isn’t really any evidence to that effect, ”he said.

Challenge the results of the redistribution process

The process of creating the maps in the Texas Legislature has met with resistance from various groups concerned that the process does not fairly reflect where the new population growth has occurred in the state, said Miguel Rivera, voting rights coordinator for the Texas Civil Rights Project.

“So we know that in Texas over the past 10 years the state’s population has grown by 4 million people, and 95% of that growth has come from people of color. Maps at the level of Congress, State Senate, and even State House, do not actively increase the districts that represent these new communities, but actively increase Anglo-majority districts in the representation of the map. Said Rivera.

These allegations are in line with a US Department of Justice lawsuit against the state of Texas on December 6 alleging “vote dilution” or the spread of voters of color in multiple districts to reduce their voting power. . If this could be proven in court, it would be a violation of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act 1965, according to the lawsuit.

“I think there was a tactic as part of a larger strategy that we saw in state government gerrymandering this time around. I think the last time [in the last redistricting process] we have clearly seen the cracking of urban centers. But I think this time around when the urban centers have grown so much and have become fundamentally too big [and were split] in several districts, ”Rivera said. While the redistribution process can also be challenged on a partisan basis, Crosson said historically it was a losing argument.

“The Supreme Court has always said, ‘While we don’t like partisan stuff, it’s probably constitutional. “You know, it’s just politicians who are politicians,” and the Supreme Court usually tries to stay out of such situations, ”Crosson said.

Fewer contested seats could mean lower voter turnout

The turnout in presidential elections is always higher in “swing” states than in “safe” states, Crosson said, and by this logic, if more seats in Congress are considered secure, the less likely voters are. to introduce oneself.

“The most important thing to take away is that we have safer neighborhoods, especially [in] this region that we have not had for a very long time. Why would a voter turn up and participate if the perception is that the winner is won in advance? “In political science, we call this the case of the endangered marginalized. There are just less of what we would call purple districts, ”he said.

“This is the direction that it looks like Texas is heading – the direction that California is already in. So we’ll see,” Crosson said.

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