Texas could gain seats in US Congress

HOUSTON Every 10 years we have a census, and every 10 years the state of Texas draws new boundary lines for congressional districts. After this census, the state will probably get at least three new seats in congress, and one of them will probably be in our area.

According to the census previews, there is a population shift underway in the US.

Preliminary figures from the US Census Bureau indicate the country grew by nine or 10 percent in the past decade, but Texas grew a dramatic 27 percent. It grew so much that Texas will gain three seats in congress -- in the Valley, in Dallas, and in Houston.

"And there's going to be a lot of pressure to create a district a Latino can win," KTRK Political Analyst Dr. Richard Murray said. "We've got eight congressmen from Houston. Six are Anglo, two are black. The largest population in Houston are Hispanics."

Here's the change in Harris County, according to early census population estimates:

In the past 10 years, the county's population has grown by nearly 20 percent. Yet Anglo numbers have declined, making up barely a third of the total picture.

Hispanic numbers now touch under 40 percent. There's no change in the number of African-Americans and Asian or others make up 8 percent of the population.

The legislature will take all that and start debating new congressional district lines next year.

Like sausage making, it isn't pretty.

The last time it happened, earlier in this decade, Democratic House members bolted from Austin in protest over what it called Republican gerrymandering of district lines.

This time, it could be the same.

"Maybe we could cut this $18 billion deficit by selling tickets to watch," said Gerald Birnberg with the Harris County Democratic Party. "It'll be quite something to see."

It's already shaping up.

Republicans aren't willing to concede any new district to Democrats.

"The reality is that Texas is a Republican state," said Jared Woodfill with the Harris County Republican Party. "Every single statewide office is still held by a Republican; it continues to be a Republican state."

As before, a court may have to decide the lines.
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