WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The future of Rep. Will Hurd’s (R-TX) district is in question after a panel of federal judges ruled that the Texas legislature redistricted in a racially discriminatory way. Two of the three judges say the 2011 map in question included three districts designed to hinder the role of minority voters. One of those is Hurd’s 23rd District, but he says the map did not affect his election.
Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) says the redistricting had no affect on his elections.
“A black Republican is representing a 71-percent Hispanic district,” said Hurd. “And this is something that is hard for people to fathom.”
Hurd is speaking out after the federal judges’ decision. Hurd was not in Congress at the time the GOP-led Texas legislature proposed new district boundaries, but the judges' decision could affect his district in the future.
“The citizens of the 23rd District had the opportunity to grade my paper twice, and I got a passing grade,” said Hurd.
The Texas legislature drew it back in 2011. It never saw the light of day and was immediately appealed. So the panel of federal judges put in a quick fix map, first used in the 2012 election and remains in effect. Democrat Pete Gallego won the 23rd District in 2012, and Hurd won on in 2014 and 2016.
“I won in a district that Hillary Clinton won,” said Hurd. “It had the highest turnout in the history of the district.”
The Texas Democratic Party says this “fixed map” didn’t go far enough to end racial discrimination, and that Pete Gallego won against the odds. Drew Penrose, legal director at Fair Vote, says the maps in Texas make it look like the state Legislature is deciding elections.
“District lines matter so much that it has come to undermine what it means for people to be choosing candidates, choosing who is going to represent them,” said Penrose.
While two of the judges on the panel found the redistricting to be racially motivated, all three found political motivation. Penrose says in states like Texas, minorities are associated with the Democratic Party, so racial and political motivation go hand in hand.
“Texas knows about racial data and they use that data to hurt Democrats, it winds up being functionally the same thing,” said Penrose.
Texas can appeal the ruling. If they do, it goes right to the Supreme Court.