AUSTIN (KXAN) - Democratic state Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin would be forced to run in an all-new district next year under a proposed plan unveiled Wednesday by the Republican-controlled Senate Redistricting Committee.
c Watson, a former Austin mayor, has served in the Senate since his election in 2006.
Despite the change's conservative voting possibilities, Watson was optimistic about next year's election.
"This is a district that Kirk Watson will do very, very well in," he said. "If this map ends up holding, I'll run in this district and don't really question I'd be elected."
The proposed map would also carve Travis County into four state Senate districts, including one that would snake from South Austin 250 miles south to Laredo. That would include the home of longtime Democratic Sen. Judy Zaffirini.
Sen. Jeff Wentworth, a Republican who lives in San Antonio would continue to represent parts of Travis County, under Seliger's plan. Also, Horseshoe Bay Republican Troy Fraser would also pick up a portion of the county.
The new lines are being drawn because of population shifts discovered in the 2010 Census.
"Travis County has the numbers and population so there could be a single district contained wholly in Travis County," said Watson.
The next step is for the redistricting panel to consider the plan on Thursday. Watson took issue with the timing, saying committee members should have laid it out for review earlier.
"The map is being released only 24 hours before there's going to be a hearing on it, and I'm not sure that's the best way of doing that," he said.
The full Senate would also have to vote on it.
Whatever redistricting plan that might be approved by lawmakers also must pass muster with the U.S. Justice Department to make sure all Texans' voting rights are safeguarded. Watson worried over a possibly "retrogression in minority voting strength" this plan could create.
"The minority population in Travis County has been very effective at building a coalition so it elects its choice," Watson said. "I am a product of that. My predecessor is a product of that. Why is there a division of the minority coalition that's occurred here?"
Senate Redistricting Chairmain Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, said the Voting Rights Act was taken into consideration with the map and that he took members' input about population distribution into account when putting it together.
"There will be no amendment that's acceptable that hasn't been fully vetted for its legality," Seliger said. "As you discuss maps with people, if you talk about any action that will reduce the Spanish surname voter distribution by a little bit, it's my inclination not evven to discuss it. At some threshold, and it's not a very big one, you're headed to court. We're not headed to court on things. We know there's a risk of it. That's a wasted motion and needlessly expensive to the taxpayers."
Watson said he has not decided on any amendments to the map just yet, though he is concerned about how it will effect his black and Hispanic constituents.
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