By Kathi Bliss
A controversial redistricting proposal put before the Texas Legislature this week during the special session called by Governor Rick Perry might end Caldwell County’s long-standing relationship with Congressman Lloyd Doggett.
The Austin-based Democrat has served as the United States Congressman for the 25th Congressional District of Texas since 2005, and was re-elected to another term last year, despite facing a heated challenge from Republican Donna Campbell, who won Caldwell County with just over 51 percent of the vote.
The redistricting plan introduced to the Legislature on Tuesday will move the boundaries of District 25, which currently covers Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop, Fayette, Colorado, Lavaca, and part of Travis County. If the plan, which some say is geared toward removing Doggett from office altogether, is approved, the district lines will move northward, still encompassing parts of Travis and Hays Counties, and stretching north nearly to Ft. Worth.
Caldwell County would be split under the proposed plan, with Lockhart, Martinale, Maxwell and Reedville pulled into the new 35th Congressional District, and the rest of the county being drawn into District 27, which would stretch from Caldwell County to the Gulf Coast.
District 27 is currently served by Republican Blake Farethold, who narrowly defeated longtime Democratic Congressman Solomon Ortiz in 2010.
In a statement to the Austin Chronicle on Tuesday, Doggett said he was, “ready to live in a Winnebago, if that’s what it takes,” to maintain representation. Under the current plan, experts say he could run in the 35th district, hence still representing part of Caldwell County, but might face a primary challenge from San Antonio-area Democrats who have toyed with the idea of running for office.
“… I think it’s still a little early,” Doggett told the Chronicle’s Lee Nichols. “This map is a long way from reality. Much of its design is to convince people there’s nothing we can do about it, and there still is.”
In other redistricting news, the Legislature passed a redistricting bill last week that also redraws the lines for the Texas State Senate, removing Caldwell County in its entirety from District 18, currently represented by Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) and adds it – along with portions of Hays, Travis and Guadalupe Counties, to Senate District 21. That district, which stretches from Travis County to Starr County in the Rio Grande Valley and west to Webb County, is represented by longtime Senator Judith Zafrini (D-Laredo).
A plan from the Texas House passed last week also changes Caldwell County’s representation in the house.
Currently a part of District 45, represented by recently-elected Jason Isaac, Caldwell County was removed from that district under the house plan, and added to District 17, along with Bastrop, Lee, Gonzales and Karnes Counties.
That district is currently represented by Lee County Republican Tim Kleinschmidt.