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If proposed map holds, Ron Paul to say goodbye to Crossroads

By BY GABE SEMENZA
June 8, 2011 at 1:08 a.m.
Updated June 17, 2011 at 1:17 a.m.


WHO IS BLAKE FARENTHOLD?

If the proposed redistricting map passes as is, Blake Farenthold would represent Victoria, Calhoun, Jackson, Matagorda and Wharton counties. So, who is he?

Freshman U.S. congressman in District 27

Republican from Corpus Christi

South Texas native who has worked as a conservative radio contributor, lawyer and media consultant.

"I look forward to the opportunity to serve in whatever new district the legislatures and the courts finalize," Farenthold said by email.

A proposed Texas congressional redistricting map shows Ron Paul might no longer represent many Crossroads counties.

The revised map, unveiled this week by Republican legislators, would remove Victoria, Calhoun, Jackson, Matagorda and Wharton counties from Paul's District 14.

These and other counties would comprise District 27, which would begin in Nueces County, stretch to the northeast and then veer northwest before ending in Bastrop County. Republican Blake Farenthold of Corpus Christi is the District 27 congressman.

This newly drawn map is music to some and disheartening to others. Boundary lines, however, are not final. Disputes about the lines and their consequences likely will end up in federal court.

"Litigation is certain, and it is too early to know whether the latest map will survive," Jesse Benton, Paul's political director, said by email.

Redistricting lines are supposed to be redrawn based on 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data, which shows major shifts in the state's population - to metro areas - and demographics, namely a significant increase in Hispanics.

Paul's district would be sliced in half with his remaining counties focused near Harris County.

Paul, a Lake Jackson Republican, is an advocate for limited government, low taxes and free markets. His opposition to federal spending does not always sit well, though, especially at the local level.

"He and his staff do well on certain social issues, but as far as economic issues go it has been a challenge to move things forward through his office," Lee Swearingen, a Victoria businessman and former longtime Victoria County Navigation District chairman, said. "It was a real challenge to get federal funding for maintenance of the intracoastal waterways and other critical needs at the port and airport."

Swearingen acknowledged Paul's popularity and length of service - 12 terms.

Longtime Crossroads supporters of Paul, no doubt, worry about losing their candidate, who also has announced a bid for the U.S. presidency.

"I'm really disappointed, but if it's going to happen, it's going to happen," Toni Marek, a Victoria Paul supporter and activist, said. "It just means we have to work harder to get more people like him in office. It's sad. but, sadly, that's how politics work."

GOP chairs of the Texas House and Senate redistricting committees just released the proposed map this week. Before the map is final, Gov. Rick Perry and the U.S. Justice Department must approve congressional lines.

Most people predict boundary disputes will go to federal courts for review. Even so, the possibility remains that Paul might no longer serve this region, much of which was his stronghold for years.

"While it certainly would be disappointing to lose Victoria and all of the wonderful constituents he has enjoyed representing for so many years, Congressman Paul understands that the process is not over," Benton, Paul's political director, said.

Correction: Victoria and other Crossroads counties could change congressional districts under the latest proposed realignment plan. One of the two maps on Page A1 on Thursday showed the current Congressional District 14. The other showed the proposed District 27 that would include most of the Crossroads. That map was mislabeled.

June 10, 2011

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