Latest Texas Political Map Favors GOP

By Matt Pyeatt | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

( - In America's second largest state, Texas, the latest plan to create new political boundaries for the 2002 Congressional elections gives Republicans the upper hand.

A federal court comprised of three judges issued the long awaited redistricting map for the state, which will gain two congressional seats next year because of an increase in population over the last decade. Republicans are expected to win both of the new seats.

House incumbents from both parties are likely to maintain an advantage in seeking re-election, but upon the retirement of incumbent Democrats, some of those seats will become much more vulnerable to a Republican takeover because of the reshaped political boundaries.

Democrats Chet Edwards, Ralph Hall, Max Sandlin, Charles Stenholm and Jim Turner will serve districts that have a slight Republican edge, however, each of the representatives has won convincingly in recent elections.

One of the two new districts will be based entirely in Dallas County and take portions of Majority Leader Dick Armey's current district. The other new district will stretch from Houston's western suburbs to areas north and east of Austin.

Republicans had hoped the new boundaries would allow them to gain more political ground in rural areas of the state and Democrats wanted to secure at least one predominantly Hispanic district. Neither happened.

The state's new redistricting plan is aimed at breaking the impasse in the state Legislature over the issue and replaces the earlier political maps drawn up by a Texas state judge.