by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Redistricting maps drawn by Republicans in Georgia and Texas are being criticized by some conservatives as too timid and a failure to maximize GOP gains in Congress in 2022, a break for Democrats heading into the midterm elections.
The proposal for new congressional boundaries in Texas does not appear to squeeze Democrats, or create new majority-Republican seats, to the extent analysts thought possible (and likely) after the state picked up two House seats in reapportionment. Georgia neither gained nor lost seats. But the expectations were that Republicans there would redraw the map to bolster the party’s congressional delegation to counter the Democrats’ growing strength in the state, especially around Atlanta.
The Democratic Party’s thin House majority remains in jeopardy heading into next year’s down-ballot contests. But these proposals out of Georgia and Texas could spare the party from losses that had been considered all but certain.
“Republican leaders have a unique and timely opportunity to safeguard Georgia’s future through the redistricting process,” said Ryan Mahoney, a Republican operative in the Peach State whose comments are similar to the criticism of the maps that has popped up on the Right. “They must act with courage and determination, knowing that the opposition will raise holy hell no matter what map is ultimately adopted.”
Republicans control the governor’s mansion and the legislature in Georgia and Texas, and neither state delegates redistricting to an independent commission. That means the GOP is in charge of drawing the new district lines for congressional seats and seats in the legislature. But in both Georgia and Texas, Republicans only tinkered around the edges, producing maps that protected GOP incumbents but did not leave Democrats out in the cold, although the proposals could change.