Shakedown? Texas Rep. Joe Barton Loses Arlington

It might not be a “$20 billion shakedown,” as Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton once called the agreement between the federal government and British Petroleum to set up a compensation fund for oil spill victims, but the latest Texas redistricting map sure has gotten Rep. Joe Barton upset. Barton represents Texas’s 6th district, which currently includes the city of Arlington. But the new redistricting map, passed by the Texas House yesterday, places Arlington in the 33rd district rather than the 6th.

State Rep. Bill Zedler tried to help Barton by introducing an amendment that would give parts of Arlington, including one of Barton’s residences, back to the 6th district. But most members of the Texas House had little sympathy for Barton. Burt Solomons, chairman of the House Redistricting Committee and chief architect of the plan that upset Barton, argues that he should have worked with the redistricting committee if he was truly concerned that his district was being split.

“This is the epitome of Joe Barton … wanting to have just exactly what he wants without really going through the process as all the other congressmen and everyone else in this process really did,” Solomons said.

Democratic state Reps Marc Veasey and Tom Burnam, not usually on the same side as Solomons, agreed with him that it was outrageous for Barton to demand special treatment, especially after their own amendments in favor of greater minority representation had failed. Zedler’s amendment was easily defeated, and the House passed the redistricting bill soon after. So what can Barton do now?

“I will wait and see if the Texas House and the Texas Senate go to conference to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate maps. If my homes end up in different districts, I will then sit down with my wife and decide where to run.”

In the end, Barton probably has nothing to worry about. As state Senator Ken Seliger, chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee, told members of the state Senate who criticized the redistricting plan a few weeks ago:

“It’s going to the courts anyway, senator. The courts have drawn all or part of every map that we’ve had since 1971.” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

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