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Nicole Cobler
4 hours ago - Politics

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett poised to run in proposed Austin district

the proposed congressional maps for Texas
The proposed map for Texas' congressional districts. Courtesy: Texas Legislative Council

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a longtime Democratic congressman from Austin, indicated to Axios that he plans to announce his run for a seat in a newly proposed congressional district in Austin.

Why it matters: The recently crafted district, part of the redrawing of political boundaries every 10 years to account for population growth, is expected to be a safe Democratic seat that will include parts of Travis and Williamson counties.

  • It's also seen as a natural fit for Doggett, who spent his tenure as a political survivor in gerrymandered districts that have stretched to South Texas.
  • The creation of the Austin congressional seat is part of an effort by Texas Republican lawmakers to protect GOP incumbents across the state and win back political power in Washington.

What he's saying: "For years, I had the good fortune to represent all of Austin, the only city I have ever called home," Doggett told Axios. "After then being switched across Texas to Rio Grande City, LaGrange and San Antonio, Republicans have now created District 37, which for now reunites many of the Austin neighborhoods I was first elected to represent."

  • "Though designed for the wrong reasons and refusing to acknowledge that 95% of the growth in Texas has been from people of color, this new gerrymander seems to at least mean that most Travis County residents will no longer be forced into districts of Trump-supporting Congress members," he continued.

"I will be asking neighbors to permit my continued service in Washington as a voice for our shared values."

State of play: Doggett has built deep loyalties and a wide network in his decades in office. Ahead of his announcement, other possible candidates included:

Wendy Davis, the former Democratic state senator who drew national headlines for her 13-hour filibuster over a restrictive abortion measure.

  • She's sought higher office before, facing a bruising defeat in her 2014 gubernatorial bid against now-Gov. Greg Abbott. U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R) narrowly defeated Davis in 2020 for a seat representing a slice of Austin and the Hill Country.
  • Davis, who lives in Austin, has punted questions about a possible run, saying instead she has "serious legal concerns" with the map: "Discussions around who may or may not run for election and in which districts is not the right conversation to have at this time."
    • A spokesman for Davis declined to comment further.

State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, an Austin Democrat, was also seen as a possible contender for the new seat.

  • Her state House district fits squarely in the new 37th Congressional District, and she drew national attention when she joined Democrats in fleeing the state earlier this year to break quorum over a sweeping GOP-led voting bill.
  • Hinojosa previously said it's not the time to discuss possible candidates for the district. She maintained that position Friday, telling Axios she's "trying to protect the voting interests of Travis County" and "will make a decision about next steps once maps are voted out."

What's next: In what amounts to a field-clearing move, Doggett isn't waiting for the congressional map to be finalized.

  • Doggett said he will make his decision about where to run publicly on Monday outside Bryker Woods Elementary, the same location as his original announcement for Congress. He was first elected to Congress in 1994.

Names floated for Doggett's old district include:

  • Austin City Council Member Greg Casar
  • State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat
  • Julián Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and Obama-era Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Yes, but: While Castro's name recognition and cash-raising prowess would make him a favorite for the seat, the job may not best position him for a statewide run in 2024 against Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. A spokesman for Castro did not return Axios' request for comment.

Our thought bubble: Even as Austin finally gets its own Democrat in Congress, it comes at the cost of communities of color across the state getting sliced and diced. Republicans did not add a new Hispanic-majority district in Texas, despite the group driving much of the state's population growth.

Asher Price
4 hours ago - News

Examining the panic around trans kids in sports

Texas Rep. Valoree Swanson.
Republican Texas Rep. Valoree Swanson authored legislation that would restrict transgender student athlete participation in school sports. Photo: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Fears about transgender students playing girls' sports have roots in wider LGBTQ+ terror that stretches to victim-blaming strategies in murder cases, a St. Edward’s University professor tells Axios.

Driving the news: Legislation blocking transgender athletes from competing in public school sports based on their gender identity is likely to be signed into law by the governor soon.

Asher Price
4 hours ago - Politics

Reshaping Austin’s political boundaries

Austin City Hall
Austin City Hall. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

Austin is reshaping its city council boundaries — and the redistricting commission is hosting public forums to get input.

Why it matters: Austin’s population is larger and more diverse than it was when districts were first drawn in 2013. Redistricting changes how Austinites are represented in the city council — including their political clout and the makeup of the council itself.

Yes, but: Even as the city is more diverse, its percentage of Black residents has fallen and grown more diffuse, challenging map makers to create a district with a decisive mass of Black voters.

What they're saying: “We’re trying to give the possible opportunity for a person of color to elect a representative of their choice,” Christina Liu Puentes, chair of the redistricting commission, tells Axios.

  • Puentes was speaking chiefly of Black and Latino Austinites on Austin’s East Side.
  • The redistricting commission decided to forego an “Asian opportunity district” — even though Austinites of Asian descent now outnumber Black residents.
  • “Essentially, we don’t have an Asian opportunity district in Austin because Asians in Texas don’t have the precedent for levels of voter suppression and oppression as Asians in the West,” Puentes said.

The Asian population “is more dispersed than the African American population,” Austin city demographer Lila Valencia tells Axios.

  • “The Asian population is mostly located in three main areas of the city: northwest, northeast and southwest," she continued. "The challenge even in those areas will be to see if there are sufficient Asians and Asian voters to draw a district that would allow them an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choosing.”

How it works: Each of the city’s 10 council members should represent the same number of voters, per city guidelines.

  • Neighborhoods are supposed to be kept together as much as possible.

Make your voice heard: City officials will host a Zoom forum from 6-8pm today.

  • A final meeting will be held at the Dell Jewish Community Center at 7300 Hart Lane from 6-8pm on Wednesday.

The big picture: The low temperature of the city process is in contrast with the redistricting battle underway at the state Capitol, as lawmakers argue over congressional boundaries that could shift the balance of power in Washington.

Scoop: U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett teases run in proposed Austin district

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett at a rally in Austin in 2021.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett speaks at a rally at the state Capitol on June 20, 2021 in Austin. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a longtime Democratic congressman from Austin, indicated to Axios that he plans to announce his run for a seat in a newly proposed congressional district in Austin.

Why it matters: The newly crafted district, part of the redrawing of political boundaries every 10 years to account for population growth, is expected to be a safe Democratic seat that will include parts of Travis and Williamson counties.

Asher Price
Updated Oct 15, 2021 - News

Texas to grow hotter in coming decades

Texas A&M; Map: Will Chase/Axios

New research by the state climatologist suggests that Central Texas will get hotter and drier in coming decades — and expect more flooding.

Worth noting: John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas A&M atmospheric scientist and state climatologist, tells Axios that while state agency officials consult him, he never hears from the governor's office.

Nicole Cobler
Oct 15, 2021 - News

Demand for legal weed grows in Texas

Marijuana on a metal table
Workers trim the flowers of hemp plants at Hempire State Growers farm in Milton, New York. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's hard to miss advertisements on billboards and store windows across Texas promoting "legal THC."

Yes, but: The legality of delta-8 THC, which has a slightly different chemical structure from "regular" marijuana, is murky.

Austin's stars at night are not so bright

The Milky Way, as seen over Fort Davis, Texas
The Milky Way, seen over Fort Davis, Texas. Photo: Alan Dyer /VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Like Christmas lights with burnt-out bulbs, stars are disappearing from our night skies as light pollution grows ever brighter.

Driving the news: For Night Skies Month, a band of Central Texans is aiming to dim outside lights a smidge.

Cheaper real estate lures Californians to Texas

A for-sale sign outside an Austin area home.
A for-sale sign outside an Austin-area home. Photo: Ed Lallo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just as it seems every Californian and her brother are moving to Central Texas, a recent study compares the economic policies of California and Texas and how they affect quality of life.

Why it matters: The two most populous states in the country have long epitomized contrasting ideas about government, including policies on taxes, regulation and, more recently, pandemic response.