By Mike Ward
That plan is reminiscent of one proposed in 2003 for U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, to represent areas stretching as far south as McAllen. That district was later changed as part of a larger tweaking of districts ordered by the courts.
The new Senate redistricting plan drew immediate criticism for carving up Austin more than it is now, to possibly punish Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin.
Two state senators currently represent parts of Travis County, although Watson predominates. His entire district is in Travis County currently.
The proposed map would push Watson’s district farther south and east, into Bastrop County, and would have parts of southwest Austin represented for the first time by Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay; parts of South Austin represented again by Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, and parts of southeast and east Austin represented by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.
“I feel like I was Doggett-ed,” Zaffirini said. “I’m very dismayed about the changes. They’re uncalled for.”
While questioning the proposed plan for “dividing historical constituencies in Travis County,” Watson said he is confident he can win reelection in the new district. But he said Travis County could have a district of its own based on its population — instead of being divided among four senators.
“This is about Travis County and Austin, and whether they’re best served by four senators instead of one,” Watson said. He indicated he will challenge the proposed changes.
The Senate Select Committee on Redistricting has set a public hearing on the proposed Senate maps for Austin and other parts of Texas at 9 a.m. Thursday in the auditorium, of the Capitol Extension, E1.004.
Senate leaders plan to bring the new district maps to the full Senate for a vote next Monday or Tuesday, they said.