by Donna Garner
Sen. Brian Birdwell is an outspoken voice for conservatism in a Texas Senate that is sorely in need of more conservatives, and I am very troubled that the new Senate redistricting map appears to be drawn deliberately in such a way that will hurt Sen. Birdwell’s chances of being re-elected.
Now that the third redistricting map has been released during this legislative session (Texas State Board of Education, House, and now Senate), any logical person should begin to see a pattern.
TEXAS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION MAP
In the SBOE map, conservative members such as Charlie Garza, Ken Mercer, Terri Leo, and Gail Lowe have seen their districts redrawn to help either the liberals or left-leaning Republicans to win future elections. Coincidence?
To read details about how the conservative members of the Texas State Board of Education have been targeted in the SBOE redistricting map, please go to this link:
5.7.11 — http://alicelinahan.net/2011/05/07/bad-decisions-for-our-texas-schools/
In the House map, three of our most outspoken and well-respected conservative Republicans (Reps. Wayne Christian, Dan Flynn, and Erwin Cain) have had their districts drawn in such an egregious manner as to make it almost impossible for all three of them to be re-elected in 2012. Coincidence?
Please go to these links to read the details about how the conservative House members were shut out of the debate on the House redistricting map:
4.29.11 — http://www.educationnews.org/breaking_news/news/155124.html
4.28.11 — http://www.educationnews.org/political/political_opinions/155075.html
Here are the members of the House Redistricting Committee and their Young Conservatives of Texas ratings. Notice that out of 18 members, only 3 scored a 75 % or above with an average among all 18 of 47.5 %.
Speaker Joe Straus appointed the chair and the committee members.
House Redistricting Committee
(Young Conservatives of Texas ratings)
R — Burt Solomons – Chair – 70%
D — Mike Villarreal – Vice-Chair – 3%
D – Robert Alonzo — 10%
D – Carol Alvarado — 7%
R – Jimmie Don Aycock — 87%
R – Dan Branch — 61%
R – Rob Eissler — 61%
R – Charlie Geren — 59%
R – Patricia Harless — 71%
R – Harvey Hilderbran — 77%
R – Todd Hunter — 68%
R – Jim Keffer — 55%
R – Jerry Madden — 70%
R – Aaron Peña — 29%
R – Larry Phillips — 90%
D – Joe Pickett — 17%
D – Marc Veasey — 20%
Now we have Senator Brian Birdwell and the new Senate map for District 22 (Waco area).
Sen. Birdwell is actually Lt. Col. (Ret.) Brian Birdwell. On Sept. 11, 2001, Lt. Birdwell had just walked back into his office in the Pentagon; and the next minute he was thrown to the floor and engulfed in flames. He thought he was going to die and cried out to God. The sprinkler system suddenly turned on, and his life was spared. However, 60% of Birdwell’s body was burned; and he has had 39 painful surgeries. Sen. Birdwell knows what it is like to be a patriotic American who has sacrificed much for his country.
Let’s see what Sen. Seliger’s Redistricting Committee has done to conservative Sen. Birdwell: The Senate map now has a “finger” that is drawn into Tarrant County (a heavily populated area), and that area just “happens” to include an area of Tarrant County that is Afro-American and Democrat. In fact, that area is being represented right now by a Democrat House member.
Meanwhile, Coryell County has been removed from Sen. Birdwell’s district. Coryell County is made up of rural voters who are typically much more conservative than voters in urban areas, and Coryell County contains thousands of military personnel who live close to Ft. Hood. Of course, a large number of them supported Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell in the last election.
Is this another coincidence that the Senate redistricting map targets yet another conservative?
THE COMMON THREAD
I believe a common trend is reflected in all three of the redistricting maps; and we would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to figure out that the left-leaning Republican leadership in the Texas Legislature is targeting conservatives.
What is ironic is that most of these left-leaning Republicans ran under the popular umbrella of “conservatives” in the Nov. 2010 election; yet since they got to Austin, they have gone out of their way to impede legislation authored by conservative legislators and to draw redistricting maps that are deliberately meant to decimate them in 2012.
When confronted by those of us who understand that these coincidences are actually a well-orchestrated plan, the first words out of legislators’ mouths is “We had to draw the maps so that they would meet the provisions of the Voting Rights Act.”
Just how come the Voting Rights Act requires all three of the maps released so far to harm outspoken conservatives? This is not a coincidence.
Sen. Kel Seliger is the chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee. He and the members of his committee were appointed by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Seliger announced late Friday, May 13, that any alternative Senate redistricting plans must be filed by 7:00 P. M. this coming Monday. That deadline will make it almost impossible for Sen. Birdwell and other Senators to file amendments, and the final vote on the Senate map is to be Tuesday and Wednesday, May 17 and 18.
Here is the Senate Committee on Redistricting along with the Young Conservatives of Texas ratings.
Notice that out of 15 members, only 2 scored a 75 % or above with an average among all 18 of 44 %.
(R) – Seliger, Chair — 56%
(D) – Gallegos, Vice-Chair — 15%
(R) – Carona — 39%
(R) – Eltife — 48%
(R – Estes — 63%
(R) – Fraser — 82%
(D) – Hinojosa — 19%
(R) – Huffman — 70%
(D) – Lucio — 19%
(R) – Patrick — 85%
(D) – Uresti — 30%
(R) – Wentworth — 37%
(D) – West — 11%
(R) – Williams — 67%
(D) – Zaffirini — 19%
The Republicans in the House (5.5.11) who voted against the gerrymandered SBOE map produced by Sen. Seliger were Berman, Cain, Christian, Flynn, Harper-Brown, Hughes, King P., Landtroop, Larson, Laubenberg, Margo, Paxton, Perry, Simpson, Taylor L., Taylor V.,Truitt, White, Zedler. Republicans present but not voting — Hilderbran, Straus. Republicans absent — Branch, Crownover, Murphy, Workman.
The only two Senators who voted against Sen. Seliger’s rogue E120 SBOE map were Sen. Brian Birdwell and Sen. Dan Patrick.
These are the House members who have consistently tried to carry the conservative agenda this legislative session, starting with their efforts to oust Joe Straus as Speaker because he does not represent the conservative agenda that Texas voters on Nov. 2, 2010 said they wanted: