Shortly before the final midnight vote on the King map, the folks from Killeen were treated to another revealing spectacle. Committee member who had absented herself from most of the testimony, suddenly appeared with an amendment that would slightly move a line on one district on the map to favor her county. This session, Luna has been a consistent stalwart of the Republican leadership. In exchange for her allegiance she obtained a key role in the budget process. Her ability to demand the slight alteration of the map appeared to be another bonus. At no time did Luna express public concern that the new map, if passed, would ensure Republican control of Congress for decades to come. Luna’s perks were not extended to Hispanic Democrat who gave his vote at the beginning of the legislative session. In the room behind the committee chamber, away from public view, Flores and Luna had fought over the map. Under the new plan, there would be three new Hispanic districts in the Rio GrandeValley, Flores was told. One belonged to State Sen. Eddie Lucio \(Dthe map in the Senate. The other followed Luna’s preferences. That left Flores with a district that stretched from Hidalgo County all the way to Austin. It was not a district that a Hidalgo politician like himself could win. “I don’t want anything less than what everybody else gets,” he would gripe the following day. A greedy scramble for the crumbs left on the Republican table had been the Democrats’ fare the entire session. Craddick had coopted enough disgruntled blacks and Hispanics to neuter the Democratic caucus, fostering an every-man-for-himself attitude. The “cross-dressers,” as some of their colleagues snidely called them, made it exceedingly difficult to organize the Democrats. Back in the committee room, Flores refused to go quietly. “How come I Rep. Garnet Coleman and Rep. Pete Gallego didn’t get an opportunity to try to go and cut this up and change my vote around,” he wheedled to the Republicans in charge. He then asked about the “protected” district without mentioning Lucio’s name. Audience members snickered as the farce played out before them. The group from Killeen grew increasingly frustrated. Luna glared at her fellow Hispanic Democrat. Despite the drama, in short order both her amendment and the map itself were voted out of committee. That night it seemed as if Congressional redistricting was as inevitable as sunrise the next morning. The Republican leadership held a firm command. They would ram their plan through the House, and with the right enticements, it would pass the Senate. There was only one hopc a quorumbusting walkoutbut that would take a degree of coordination, unity, and resolve House Democrats seemed unlikely to muster. Elected as Democratic House Caucus leader at the beginning of the session, Rep. Jim Dunnam particularly unenviable leadership position. For the first time in 120 years, Democrats were in the minority in the Texas House.The caucus was divided.A strategize on the lawn at the Holiday Inn. number of its members owed their allegiance to the Republican leadership a radical band of ideological zealots whose goal was to destroy the Texas Democratic Party by attacking its three main funding sources: unions, trial lawyers, and Democratic congressmen. And Dunnam had nothing with which to threaten or promise his troops. He couldn’t deny them chairmanships or provide money for their reelection. Furthermore, he declared himself, on principle, opposed to a heavy-handed style of leadership. “If we threaten or pressure our members we are just as bad as [the Republicans],” he said after the caucus failed to hold together for a vote on a tort reform constitutional amendment in April. But unwittingly, the Republican leadership had strengthened Dunnam’s hand. Craddick deliberately excluded many of the caucus’ most experienced Democrats from his team. Unencumbered by the responsibilities of leadership, representatives like Pete D-D-D-could use their extensive knowledge to resist the Republican onslaught. Throughout the session leading to the 6 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 6/6/03
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