As Commission Begins Redrawing Dallas's Districts, Barton and Smith at War Over State's

The Redistricting Commission, charged with redrawing city council district boundaries, meets tomorrow at 6 p.m. at City Hall, at which time commission members Domingo Garcia, Donna Halstead and Gary Griffith and chair Ruth Morgan will present to the public early-look maps and district updates. But as Steve Thompson writes this morning, the commission's task, spurred by the latest Census figures, is no easy task: Garcia wants to add two districts that would "favor Hispanic candidates," as Thompson writes, though Halstead notes that given how Hispanics -- and African-Americans -- are now spread far and wide throughout the city, "it becomes a real question as to how you draw those and maintain the principle of a district being compact and contiguous." Morgan, the expert on the U.S. Voting Rights Act and its impact on Dallas politics, cautions all: Keep it above-board, or don't bother.

Too bad she's not there to mediate the fight over the state's redistricting: Politico this morning details the battle between the 21st District's Lamar Smith and the 6th's Smokey Joe Barton. Smith, chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary and the man overseeing the Texas redo, "is pushing to evenly split four new districts between Republicans and Democrats," reports Politico's John Bresnahan, "acknowledging that Texas's surging Hispanic population will gain minority-majority seats in the Dallas and Houston areas."

But Barton -- with the support of Gov. Rick Perry -- wants to make "three, or possibly all four, of the new districts Republican-favored, potentially shutting out Hispanic hopefuls from the new seats." Neither man would talk to Politico and told others not to cooperate either, but Bresnahan says it's gotten so bad Barton's skipping meetings and shouting obscenities at Smith behind closed doors. Pete Sessions, who stands to benefit most from Barton's behind-the-scenes maneuvering, says don't worry, it's all good. At which point Barton apologized to BP again.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky