Texas lawmakers are seeking to create two new congressional districts in the Austin and Houston areas, according to a proposed division plan released on Monday.
The map, which was proposed by State Sen. Joan Huffman (R), would effectively lock in the Republicans’ longstanding advantage in Texas for another decade, reducing the number of competitive districts in favor of a protection strategy in place.
Twenty-three of Texas’ 36 congressional districts are currently represented by Republicans, with the rest by Democrats. According to the proposed map, the GOP would be able to expand its advantage, creating 25 districts where voters stormed for former President Trump and 13 who voted for President Biden.
Texas gained two new districts in the 2020 census, with metropolitan areas such as those around Austin and Houston responsible for much of the state’s population gain.
Although the proposed card seeks to protect many cardholders against competitive re-election offers, it could create headaches for some members.
For example, this would pit Democratic Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee against Al Green. Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s (R) district would overlap with Rep. Sylvia Garcia’s (D).
The proposed map would also place Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D), who narrowly won reelection last year, in a more competitive district. Meanwhile, other incumbents such as Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) would represent safer districts than their current ones.
Republicans have long held the reins of power in Texas. But Democrats have challenged the GOP more aggressively in recent years, driven by a string of close races and suburban shifts to their party.
If approved, however, the proposed card would help protect incumbents on both sides of the aisle, reducing the number of competitive districts in play.
The maps unveiled on Monday are only drafts, which means they could still change before getting final approval and being sent to Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) office.
This will mark the first round of redistricting in Texas since the 2013 Supreme Court decision removing the requirement that some states obtain federal approval when changing election laws or congressional maps.