Stop — court ordered maps in the name of the law
By Elsa Maxey
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wants to stop the use of what has been termed “legally flawed redistricting maps,” the latest ones issued by a federal panel last month. For Fort Bend County and other areas across the state, that poses an issue since the new court ordered maps from last month looked like they only needed approval by a Washington, D.C. court, which is still pending.
But, there’s more at this point. Texas’ appeal to block the court-ordered maps is for the Texas House and Senate, and a similar objection to new congressional districts will reportedly follow for a decision being sought to be made by the highest court in the land.
In an emergency application filed in the U.S. Supreme Court this Monday, Abbot called the maps “fatally flawed.” This emergency filing has everything to do with those seeking public office since the date to start filing was this Monday and it runs until December 15. The new court ordered maps awaiting final approval affect those that announced their candidacy in Fort Bend County and will subsequently file their applications to run for office in geographic areas looking a bit different than they had envisioned. But, most of all, the new court maps that Abbott hopes to bring to a halt affect Sonal Bhuchar. She announced a bid for the state legislative office being vacated by incumbent State Representative Charlie Howard, who said he will not seek reelection. A report indicates that State Rep. Howard is among 24 state representatives that have announced they will not be in Austin when the Legislature convenes in 2013.
Bhurchar lives in what was House District 26 before the recent federal judge order, but due to their redrawn maps, she is no longer lives in that district…for now, but possibly later or maybe not. The other candidates that have also announced to run including Sugar Land Mayor Pro Tem Jacquie Chaumette, who local area political consultant Gary Gillen refers to as the best known candidate seeking that office, do not appear to have been drawn out of their district, but the geographic lines have changed.
At press time, in this area only incumbent District 18 State Senator Glenn Hegar of Katy had filed to run for office. He did it on Monday.
The new voting boundaries in the controversy are due to the 2010 census. Texas grew by 4 million people, four new congressional seats were gained statewide, and in Fort Bend County legislative district, HD 30, which Gillen said covers most of southern Fort Bend County, all of Wharton and Austin counties, was created.
Texas’ state attorney general maintains that elections should not proceed on legally flawed maps that are likely to be overturned on further review. Democrats and Republicans are scheduled to hold their primaries on March 6, but an account indicates that due to Texas’ appeal of the court redrawn districts, it could mean delaying some primaries to May 22 for any legislative or congressional districts affected by changes in the maps…read Fort Bend County. Libertarians and other parties are expected to select their nominees later in the year at conventions.