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Texas Senate releases first draft of redistricting maps, Amarillo’s Senate District could extend to Central Texas

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 6:49 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The redistricting process kicked off this week and according to the first draw, District 31 could be losing five counties in the Panhandle and extending all the way to Kimble County.

District 31, includes most of the panhandle and parts of Permian Basin.

Counties that could be removed include Gray, Wheeler, Donley, Collinsworth and Hall counties.

State Senator Seliger says, the proposed map is designed to benefit one candidate.

“The lieutenant governor’s prefer candidate down in Midland,” said Seliger.

The district will remain solidly Republican, but will see an influx of new voters thanks to the counties added from District 28.

A professor of political science at West Texas A&M University says, extending the district this ways could be problematic.

“The interest of the 31st district now, kind of like the rural area, agricultural areas, wind energy areas of the panhandle and then you have that of the southern part of district in Permian Basin so you have the oil industry,” said David Rausch, Ph.D, professor of political science at WTAMU. “Which one gets a better hearing in the legislature? Well, if the person that represents our district is from Midland, Odessa is going to be the oil industry.

Legislators use the latest Census figures to the draw the maps. Rausch says, this draft is representative of such dat.

“Randall County may be the only Texas Panhandle county that’s growing,” said Rausch. “It’s possible that thanks to that grow, maybe we didn’t need Donley County in our district anymore or we didn’t need Gray County. A lot of people who used to live in Gray now live in Randall.

While Seliger has not stated if he will seek re-election in 2022, he says the district is still winnable.

“The good news is it is still a winnable district for somebody who addresses rural issues as I always have,” said Seliger. “The gentleman who’s running from the Permian Basin is in opposition to local control and public school, and those were the two keys to me winning the election in 2018.”

Any new map will ultimately have to be approved by the House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.

Rausch wants the community to know redistricting factors into representation and policy decisions

“You can draw a district to benefit someone in the primary election versus the general election. Maybe it is important for those of us in the panhandle to pay attention to how our district is drawn, that we may end up losing our representative in the senate,” said Rausch.

He adds that maybe the area needs to bring more people into some of the rural counties to be able to compete with the urban and suburban areas of the East.

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