The QueQue: Democrats shimmy, shake to new map, Gonzalez’s retirement, Free testing in SA on World AIDS day
Published: November 30, 2011
Democrats shimmy, shake to new map, Gonzalez’s retirement
In our pre-Thanksgiving political climate, you could feel bad blood simmering between longtime Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett and state Rep. Joaquin Castro, both entering what appeared to be a season of hard slogging in the newly created Congressional District 35. But in a heartbeat, all those “Loyd Doggett for Congress” signs around town are irrelevant. He’s got his Austin-based district back. Water under bridge, QueQue’s told.
As anticipated, the day before Thanksgiving a trio of San Antonio federal judges redrew the original Republican-driven Statehouse and congressional maps approved in the Lege this year. The decision comes after a panel of federal judges in D.C. denied Texas’ efforts to pass the maps without a trial, saying Texas used an improper standard to determine if minority representation was harmed by the GOP-drawn map (Justice Department lawyers had previously insisted the maps would disenfranchise minority voters). The new judge-drawn maps sparked a holiday weekend of political shifts.
Longtime Democratic Congressman Charlie Gonzalez’s announced retirement on Friday (a decision hinged on family obligations, he said) shook the landscape even more, inspiring Castro to jump at the opening D20 territory, held by Gonzalez and his late-father before him for the past half-century. Castro made his announcement Saturday to a small crowd of supporters on the Westside, lauding the Gonzalez legacy. “There is no more remarkable family in public service, in San Antonio and in South Texas, than the Gonzalez family.”
It’s an odd twist, considering Gonzalez sued the state to challenge GOP-drawn congressional lines that trimmed away much of downtown San Antonio from his district, including the convention center that bears the elder Gonzalez’s name. And even more ironic considering that in trial testimony, a GOP lawyer that helped guide the state through redistricting claimed Castro, along with state Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, helped move downtown and Hispanic neighborhoods out of Gonzalez’s D20 and into the newly-created D35, Castro’s battleground until his Saturday switch.
He told the crowd Saturday: “This has probably been the strangest week of my life.”
In the crowd QueQue sensed a collective sigh of relief. Doggett, Austin’s liberal lion, keeps his seat, while a rising Democratic star, Castro, gets his chance at the big leagues — all with minimal infighting. “Of course we’re relieved,” said Chair of the Bexar County Democratic Party Choco Meza. “We’re happy today that Doggett gets to keep his district, that the Southside is intact, and that Joaquin can run in his home district.” Castro currently lives in D20, the district where his grandmother settled after moving from Mexico nearly a century ago, he said.