Three federal judges on Friday reunited a south Texas county into one congressional district under a Supreme Court-ordered map revision, a move that solidified Hispanic voting strength and made one Republican incumbent's re-election campaign more difficult.
Several districts were affected by the plan, but no House of Representatives incumbent was bumped into another district. The judges emphasized that they made the minimal changes possible to fix the violations ordered by the Supreme Court.
The revision came after the Supreme Court in June found that the congressional map drawn by Republican state lawmakers in 2003Hispanic voting power by dividing Hispanics in Webb County into two different districts represented by Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla and Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar.
The new map places Webb County, which includes the city of Laredo, entirely in Cuellar's district.
Bonilla's district is now more evenly divided between Democratic and Republican voters. Bonilla, whose support among Hispanic Democrats has been dropping, also is seeing his district's Hispanic voting-age population rise from 51 percent to 61 percent.
Because the districts have been redrawn after the primary elections, the seats are open now to anyone who wants to run. Candidates have until Aug. 25 to file for the race. A special election will be held alongside the general election for congressional seats in the affected districts.
The 2003 map revision was engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who was indicted on state charges in connection with alleged money-laundering during the 2002 campaign for legislative seats and resigned from Congress.