Republican state senator says Texas map violates Voting Rights Act, plus more on attorney general and lieutenant gov. races

The week in Texas politics with The Texas Tribune.

By Alexandra Hart & Caroline CovingtonJanuary 28, 2022 7:17 am, , , ,

It’s time for the week that was in Texas politics with James Barragán, political reporter for The Texas Tribune.

Several people are running to unseat Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, but Paxton seems to be only worried about one of them: Congressman Louie Gohmert. Paxton took out television ads to run in East Texas – Gohmert’s territory. Paxton is also sending out mailers and running ads on Facebook. His tactic is unusual in this race so far, Barragán says, especially because other challengers like former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and Land Commissioner George P. Bush have raised significantly more money than Gohmert.

“It’s not something that [Attorney] General Paxton has done for any of the other competitors in the race, so it really indicates that he sees Louie Gohmert as a threat,” Barragán said.

Also this week, Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger testified that Republicans violated a voting-rights law during the Legislature’s redistricting process last year. Seliger signed a written declaration saying as much in November. He reaffirmed it in a video deposition that was played in an El Paso federal court this week where a three-judge panel is hearing a challenge to Texas’ 2021 Republican-drawn political maps – specifically the new boundaries for Texas’ Senate District 10, which includes parts of Forth Worth.

Barragán says it’s a largely Black and Hispanic district that often elects candidates who reflect those communities. But the new district boundaries now include less of Forth Worth and more of the surrounding rural counties.

“[Lawmakers] separated some of those populations and then put them into communities that have much whiter, and are much more rural populations, which opponents have said is a violation of the Voting Rights Act,” Barragán said.

And in the race for Texas lieutenant governor, three Democrats are competing in the primary, hoping to unseat Republican Dan Patrick: Mike Collier is a businessman and former auditor from Houston; Michelle Beckley is a state representative from Denton County; and Carla Brailey is a former vice chairwoman of the Texas Democratic Party. But defeating Patrick is going to be a challenge for whoever wins the primary. Barragán says that’s because Patrick has $25 million in his campaign coffers, which far eclipses the most raised among the three Democrats: $826,000 raised by Collier.

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