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How will the state's four new congressional seats affect the Crossroads?

By Gabe Semenza
Dec. 21, 2010 at 6:21 a.m.


WHAT DISTRICTS ENCOMPASS THE CROSSROADS?Texas Congressional District 14

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson. The district stretches from Galveston, south of Houston and to Victoria.

Texas Congressional District 15

U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Edinburg. The district stretches from the northern tip of DeWitt County to the southern portion of Hidalgo County.

Texas Congressional District 25

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin. The district stretches from Lavaca County to Austin in Travis County.

Lacking a crystal ball, it's difficult to predict how the state's four additional congressional seats will affect the Crossroads.

Those seats, announced Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau, give Texas more representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

With more clout in Washington, D.C., the region might stand to receive more federal funding.

Either way, four new seats requires four new congressional districts. This addition could sway the state's redistricting process, and you might end up with different political representation.

As it does every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau released state population counts - data used to, in part, apportion the 435 U.S. House of Representatives seats.

With four, Texas gained more seats than any other state - and showcased its notable population growth.

"There's no doubt about it: Texas has a lot of clout because of our population numbers," said District 14 Congressman Ron Paul, whose district encompasses Victoria County.

The Lake Jackson Republican attributes the state's population and congressional seat growth to a pro-business climate, one that helped to attract Caterpillar to Victoria, he said.

Paul said he hopes the state uses its increased clout to reduce federal taxes.

Mike Sizemore, a media consultant and former longtime state senatorial press secretary, said four new seats could help to attract federal dollars here.

"The best-case scenario would have us access more money for federal projects in this region," Sizemore said. "That could affect the Port of Victoria, and projects to dredge it. It could affect law enforcement funding and money to city and county governments."

As Texas showed, population growth attracts increased representation. But what about in the Crossroads?

The region's population growth remained unimpressive during the past decade. How will this affect redistricting?

"We have not grown like the rest of the state. Texas districts that had the most population growth are the most likely candidates for the new congressional seats," said Joe Wyatt, a former Victoria state legislator. "Until the county-by-county population numbers are in, it's almost impossible to know what's going to happen."

Beginning in February and wrapping up in March, the U.S. Census Bureau will release demographic data on a rolling basis so state governments can start redistricting.

Each member of the U.S. House of Representatives represents, on average, about 710,000 people.

Wyatt said Texas regions that grew beyond that threshold - in districts that span Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and the Valley, for example - are likely candidates for new districts.

"So, I'm not sure it affects us all that much here," he said. "The districts will certainly be similar in this area, I would say."

Paul and Sizemore agreed.

Even so, everyone agrees redistricting's effects mimic the results of a stone dropped in a lake. Once one line is redrawn, the ripples spread across the state.

James Gleason, a retired Victoria College government and politics professor, said Texas Republicans will steer those ripples.

"Redistricting always favors the party in power, and Republicans are in the driver's seat," Gleason said. "It'll be interesting to see how they draw it up."

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