Texas Grows Political Clout

New census numbers reveal that Texas is the big winner when it comes to new Congressional seats. The state gained four seats which will be assigned to specific districts next year. As Laurie Johnson reports — all of this will create a new effect on the political landscape.

Texas is already a heavy hitter, congressionally speaking. But four additional seats will make the Lone Star State a significant force in Congress.

Renee Cross is associate director of the Hobby Center for Public Policy at the University of Houston. She says both parties will start paying more attention to Texas.

"Because of the changing demographics of the state, this state will become more and more competitive. And the Democrats, particularly if they want to make inroads with the Hispanic population, are no longer going to have the luxury of just ignoring the state. By that same logic, Republicans can't take it for granted."

But first there's the issue of  redistricting. In Texas, the state legislature is in charge of drawing district lines. It was last done in 2003 when Tom Delay was the House Leader and turned into an ugly political battle that ultimately led to his fall from power. Cross says it probably won't be as intensely partisan this time because of the state's financial worries.

"Our legislature will be facing how to overcome a, what seems to be growing daily, $30 billion deficit. But make no mistake, that session is going to be strictly on the budget and redistricting and we will very likely see at least one special session."

Cross says the census results indicate political power is shifting away from the Northeast toward the South and West — and Texas is part of both.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...