Austin’s Gerrymandered House Districts Are Not As Safe as the GOP Thinks

On March 13, 2018 Democrat Conor Lamb won the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District—which Trump carried by almost 20 points. Running for an open seat is generally easier than running against an incumbent, but it’s worth noting that Trump won by a smaller margin in every one of Austin’s “safe” GOP House districts.

Let’s break it down.

PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

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PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

Of course, none of this matters if people don’t get out and vote, beginning with the runoff elections in May and then the midterms in November.

Primary Election Runoff

Be a Texas Voter(NOTE: When you vote in the runoff you must vote in the same party election as you did in the primary. You cannot switch to vote in the other party’s election.)

Last day to register to vote: April 23

Early voting: May 14 – May 18

Election day: May 22

Midterm Elections

Last Day to Register to Vote: Tuesday, October 9, 2018

First Day of Early Voting: Monday, October 22, 2018

Last Day of Early Voting: Friday, November 2, 2018

Election Day: Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Data Sources:

Daily Kos (Google Sheet)

Tracking Congress In The Age Of Trump (FiveThirtyEight)

TX-17 Candidate Forum – Feb. 11, 2018


TX-17 candidate forum in Austin on Feb 11

View Facebook event


Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
14311 Wells Port Dr, Austin, Texas 78728

Join us to learn more about & ask questions of the candidates running to represent us in Congress in Texas’ 17th Congressional District.

Confirmed candidates:

  • Dale Mantey (Dem)
  • Rick Kennedy (Dem)
  • Peter Churchman (Lib)

Declined to come:

  • Current Rep. Bill Flores (Rep)

Please bring one or more cans of food to donate for our host location to help our neighbors in need.

Rep. Bill Flores’s Campaign Just Endorsed State-Sanctioned Execution of Political Opponents

Last night, the @flores4congress Twitter handle retweeted this tweet by Dinesh D’Souza.

Bill Flores retweeted Dinesh D'Souza comparing Clintons to Rosenbergs

To get the obvious out of the way: Dinesh D’Souza is a convicted felon and the “uranium deal” has been debunked. (Yawn.)

The biggest problem in this tweet is the photo comparison. On the right: Hillary and Bill Clinton. On the left: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

In 1953, the United States executed the Rosenbergs after convicting them of espionage.

Regardless of the Rosenbergs’ guilt or innocence, it is completely over the line to draw this comparison to the Clintons. It is an endorsement of state-sanctioned violence against political opponents and that is not acceptable, from any party.

@flores4congress is the handle associated with the Bill Flores campaign; it is not Rep. Flores’s official congressional Twitter account, which is @RepBillFlores.

We are willing to give the Flores campaign the benefit of the doubt; maybe a staffer did not know the Rosenbergs’ story when he or she retweeted D’Souza.

We faxed Flores’s office last night and called his DC office this morning. They told us to contact the campaign at We emailed that address at 9 a.m., demanding a public apology. So far we have heard no response, and in fact the campaign retweeted D’Souza again this morning:

Bill Flores retweets D'Souza depicting Hillary Clinton as a hooker

Just because Trump has violated so many other norms, we cannot ignore this advocacy of state-sanctioned violence against a political opponent. Let’s not lose sight of what a functional democracy looks like. And of you are a constituent of Rep. Bill Flores, please contact his office and let him know what you think.

The campaign email address is


Stealth Stops and Photo Ops Through Rural TX-10

Guest post by Michele in Smithville, TX

Have you checked out Congressman Michael McCaul’s Twitter feed and Facebook postings this week? Well, he’s on recess and back in Texas meeting with constituents, holding town halls, shaking hands, and kissing babies! Just kidding!! He’s making the rounds, but not with regular, everyday constituents. His stops are all highly orchestrated, under the radar, closed meetings, photo ops, and fundraisers.

Protestors holding a banner that says Repeal and Replace Representative Michael McCaulHe was at the Katy Fire Department on Aug 8th, posing with a nice shiny red fire truck in the back ground. Apparently, Katy is “a recipient of the SAFER Grant!” Yay! Go Katy! There are photos of his visits with the American Jewish Committee Houston Region, an un-named group in Prairie View. A visit to Harris County OHSEM, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and then a stop in Fayette County to pose with the Sheriff’s Office and K-9 Unit. One photo op that’s missing is his stop in Bastrop.

Thursday August 1oth, McCaul had a visit planned in Smithville to meet with County Judge, Paul Pape, and other local elected officials and city managers. We hear the visit was to discuss recent disaster relief efforts from the fires and floods that have ravaged Bastrop County over the last few years. This meeting was changed at the last minute and moved to the Bastrop County Courthouse Annex in Bastrop and was to take place in the Commissioners Courtroom.

Protestors holding signs including This Nasty Woman VotesWhen we got wind of the venue change we alerted the local newspaper to the planned meeting being hosted by Judge Pape and they called him to confirm the new location and time. The reporter was told this was a private meeting. The public and the press were not invited. The reporter asked if it was legal to hold a closed meeting in the County Commissioner’s Court. Pape’s office said they would check with the local District Attorney. The meeting ended up taking place in Judge Pape’s office. We are told Pape, McCaul, and the mayors and city managers of Smithville and Bastrop were in attendance.

McCaul also had a fundraiser scheduled Thursday evening in Bastrop at the private home of a local business owner. This event was highly insulated and planned by Lilly & Company, an Austin based political consulting, campaign strategist, and fundraising group. Check them out. Pretty impressive clientele. Only select people were emailed an invite. Once you purchased a ticket through the website, you would get the location and details of the event.

Three protestors with signs including "Michael McCaul - Why Are you hiding? Meet with your constituents"We patiently waited until the Courthouse closed for the day and they turned the lights out on us. They may as well have yelled out, “Last call for alcohol! You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!” It’s a shame our Congressman is so scared to meet with a handful of citizens that he had to slip out the back door of the courthouse to avoid us. Sad!

What’s even more shameful, is our local elected officials were in on it.

Why We Fight Gerrymandering

Democracy in America is in trouble. All across the political spectrum, Americans feel alienated from their government. They find it distant, ineffective, corrupt, and interested primarily in serving the powerful at the expense of everyone else. Many millions have given up in frustration, feeling powerless to do anything. Others have embraced partisan warfare, turning our politics into a zero-sum battle for total dominance. The spirit of compromise is seldom seen, and idealistic belief in the promise of democratic self-rule seems almost hopelessly naïve. These are the conditions under which authoritarians rise and republics fall — believing the system has failed them, people look to strongmen for salvation.

The promise of a “great leader” is a false one; only we can fix what is broken. The Founders created this government to serve us, the American people, and if the government is failing in that service, it is our responsibility to do something about it. Fatalism, hopelessness, and nihilism get us nowhere — we must recommit ourselves to the ideals and hard work of democratic self-rule and take the system back for ourselves. The task seems almost impossibly huge, but this is America — there is nothing our can-do spirit and grit can’t overcome. A huge task such as this requires that we choose a place to start: to fix our broken politics, we must first take back control of our elections, and to do that we must put an end to partisan gerrymandering.

“A huge task such as this requires that we choose a place to start: to fix our broken politics, we must first take back control of our elections, and to do that we must put an end to partisan gerrymandering.”

First, a brief primer for those unfamiliar with gerrymandering. Every 10 years, the federal government conducts the census, after which seats in Congress are re-apportioned among the states based on relative shifts in population. After each census, the states undertake the process of redistricting — new election district maps are re-drawn to account for the change in the number of seats. In practice, all the districts, state and Congressional, are subject to change, so the district maps can change significantly every 10 years.

Our system of redistricting is inherently corrupt: the party that controls the state legislature draws the boundaries of the districts for every state and federal elected official. As you might imagine, the party in power uses this authority to draw maps that magnify its own power and weaken that of its opposition, often resulting in monstrously bizarre districts; the first such district was called the “Gerrymander,” and that name has come to describe any district drawn with absurd boundaries that serve partisan ends. Texas, as it turns out, has been one of the worst offenders — for decades, Democrats drew shamelessly gerrymandered districts, and Republicans are now returning the favor with a vengeance.

As an example of the power of partisan gerrymandering, consider the effect of Texas’ 2003 off-cycle redistricting, engineered by Tom DeLay. Prior to the redistricting, Democrats held 17 Congressional seats to Republicans’ 15; after the election following the redistricting, Republicans controlled 21 seats to the Democrats’ 11, a 6 seat swing. This huge swing was not the result of changes in population or a wave of political change; it was due almost entirely to how lines were drawn on a map. This is what happens when legislators are allowed to choose their voters.

“This huge swing was not the result of changes in population or a wave of political change; it was due almost entirely to how lines were drawn on a map.”

Partisan gerrymandering has tremendously corrosive effects upon our democratic system. Its tainted process and the absurd districts it produces are tangible evidence to the electorate that the system is rigged, eroding their faith in our elections. Gerrymandered districts can span hundreds of miles, joining together dissimilar communities with no real connection, resulting in “representatives” who represent little beyond raw, partisan power. The near-certainty of incumbent reelection in gerrymandered districts depresses turnout, discourages challengers from running, and contributes to elections being determined by small percentages of voters in increasingly partisan primaries. Artificially large legislative majorities are constructed, producing skewed policy outcomes and a false impression of ideological dominance. Partisan gerrymandering is a perversion of democracy, sacrificing fair elections and faithful representation to partisan advantage and the will to power.

This corrupt process has always been a problem in American politics, but the need to end it is greater now than it has ever been. The advent of Big Data and sophisticated statistical analysis have made it possible for parties to combine electoral, demographic, and consumer preference information in a way that allows them to predict with great accuracy how people will vote down to an almost individual level. The result is partisan gerrymanders of exceptional precision and durability, endowing dominant parties with artificially large majorities that are stable, even in the face of large changes in voter preference. These technical capabilities have only advanced since the 2010 redistricting, promising to make the next round of partisan redistricting even worse.

“Victory is possible: over 70% of Americans oppose partisan gerrymandering regardless of their political affiliation.”

We must act now, or risk America becoming a democracy in name only. This fight will not be short or easy — powerful entrenched interests in both parties do not want to surrender the power and security they gain from this corrupt system. Victory is possible: over 70% of Americans oppose partisan gerrymandering regardless of their political affiliation. Defending this system of institutionalized cheating is impossible, and no elected official wants to do it. If we are loud enough, organized enough, and persistent enough, we can force our representatives to publicly answer the question they do not want to hear: will you end partisan gerrymandering, or will you defend it? Faced with defending the indefensible, their system will crumble and we will take our first step in reclaiming the republic for the people.

Call to Action:

Call Cindy Burkett, chair of House Redistricting Committee, and Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives about Congressional district Redistricting. Ask why there aren’t hearings being held on bills that could end hyper-partisan, racist gerrymandering of Congressional districts in Texas. Bills awaiting hearing in committee are HJR 32/HB 369, HJR 74, and HJR 118. NONE of the redistricting bills introduced over the past 4 cycles have been called to hearing. That means that in the past 8 years, every effort to de-gerrymander Texas has been ignored.

Thanks to Degerrymander Texas. More info here.

On calling the House Redistricting and Senate State Affairs committees

Greetings redistricting warriors! I have some pointers for how to approach your calls to House and Senate committee members. I am not a fan of supplying scripts — according to a recent article in the New Yorker, scripted calls are more likely to be ignored. If you can put key ideas into your own words, your call will have more impact as it will be more organic. To that end, I have generated a list of bullet points to consider before you make your calls. Think about them, figure out how to organize them, and express them in your own language. Don’t feel compelled to hit every one, or even any of them if you feel uncomfortable — the most important thing is to make the call and have your position logged; anything beyond that is a bonus!

If you are the type that likes to engage, remember to be respectful — it’s easy to get worked-up. Stay calm, but be persistent; staffers will be polite but will, in general, be politely blowing you off. When you talk to committee members about redistricting, consider the following points:

  • In light of the recent court ruling striking down racially gerrymandered districts, Texas is in danger of needing federal pre-clearance of district maps under the Civil Rights Act. A truly independent redistricting commission would shield Texas from federal oversight.
  • There is a large, bipartisan majority of voters (> 80%) in favor of some form of independent non/bipartisan redistricting
  • Redistricting is an issue that affects every Texan — at the very least, it deserves a public hearing.
  • You will likely be told the member has not looked into the bill — ask why the member has still not looked into this important issue.
  • Ask for a direct answer on the member’s views on redistricting: does he/she prefer partisan or non-partisan redistricting? The staffer will not give you an answer — request that they get back to you with the member’s answer.

I think that last bullet point is the most important one. The more we ask, the more likely we are to get an answer. If we can compile a list of members that oppose redistricting, we have the makings of a press release about committee members who support gerrymandering and may be able to generate more press interest. If they refuse to answer, that itself can be the basis for a story — committee members refuse to take a stand on gerrymandering.

If you are a repeat caller like me, you’ll find it more useful to focus your attention on the chair and vice-chair because what we want at this point is a public hearing, and they have control over such procedural matters. If they continue to refuse to consider public hearings, we can go to the press and try to push the story that the committees are blocking public hearings because they prefer Texas’ partisan gerrymandering.

Senate Committee on State Affairs committee members

House Redistricting Committee members

CBO Score on repeal is out P.S. we’re all screwed

The Congressional Budget Office score is out, and #Trumpcare will throw 14 million people off insurance by 2018, rising to 24 million by 2026. All for a savings on the deficit  $337 billion over 10 years (which is virtually nothing–the US budget for 2015 was $3.8 TRILLION).
Per the CBO:
  • Premiums would rise by 15 to 20 percent in the near term
  • 7 million people would lose their employer coverage
  • Increased deductibles and out-of-pocket costs
  • 25% cut to Medicaid by 2026 (still affects states like Texas that didn’t expand Medicaid)
  • The monthly health insurance premium for a single 64-year-old who makes $26,500 would jump more than 700% (from $1,700 to $14,600)
You know what to do! Start making those calls NOW:
Sen. Cornyn, 512-469-6034
Sen. Cruz, 512-916-5834
Rep. McCaul, 512-473-2357
Rep. Flores, 512-373-3378
Rep. Smith, 512-912-7508
Rep. Williams, 512-473-8910
Rep. Carter, 512-246-1600
Rep. Doggett, 512-916-5921

UPDATED: Upcoming Town Halls – Really!

One of the core tactics in the Indivisible Guide is to attend Town Halls where you can speak directly to your Members of Congress (MoCs). But what do we do when our MoCs refuse to hold a Town Hall–even during next week’s recess when they are supposed to be in their districts?

Answer: You hold one anyway!

Below are the “mock” Town Halls scheduled so far. In each case, the MoC has been invited to attend and may even show up. But that won’t stop constituents from gathering and raising their concerns. We hear cardboard cutouts, puppets, and other MoC stand-ins will in attendance.

TX17 Indivisible Bill Flores Town Hall (Bryan-College Station)

Sunday, February 19, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Texas A&M Hillel

800 George Bush Dr, College Station, Texas 77840

Facebook event:

TX25 Town Hall/Town Howl Roger Williams

Sunday, February 19, 4:30-6 pm

Flores Mexican Restaurant, 2440 E Hwy 290, Dripping Springs, TX 78620

Facebook event:

Cruz/Cornyn Ghost Town Hall

Monday, February 20, 6-8 p.m.

Spider House Ballroom

2906 Fruth Street, Austin, TX 78705

Facebook event:

TX17 Indivisible Bill Flores Town Hall (Pflugerville)

Wednesday, February 22, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Blackhawk Amenity Center

3111 Speidel Dr., Plugerville, TX 78660

Facebook event:

TX31 Wilco Indivisible John Carter Town Hall

Wednesday, February 22, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

3830 Brushy Creek Rd, Cedar Park, TX 78613

Facebook event:

TX10 Indivisible Michael McCaul Town Hall

Thursday, February 23, 6:30-8 p.m. NOTE, this IS the correct date. An email went out with a typo 🙁

Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Blvd, Austin, TX 78756


TX21 Indivisible Lamar Smith Town Hall

Saturday, February 25, 5 p.m

The Scoot Inn, 1308 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78702

Facebook event:

We’ll update this page as new info comes in. 

CALLS TO ACTION for Friday, Jan. 27!


REMINDER! Many Indivisible folks will be heading to Temple this afternoon to join the Bell County Democrats in a protest outside the Convention Center where Sen. Cornyn is the key speaker.

There aren’t many opportunities for action against our senators directly, so come if you can make it! With Trump’s latest talk about walls and tariffs getting pushback from Texas Republicans, this is a perfect time to encourage them to defy the White House! Check out the the event page (where you can probably find a carpool if you need it!):

IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT TO TEMPLE, you can still CALL Cornyn’s office and your rep’s office!

Trump has really put Texas Republicans in a tough spot. Economists expect any tariff on Mexico to negatively impact the Texas economy. Many of them are already considering opposing him on this. This is just the kind of issue that can drive a wedge between Trump and Congressional Republicans, so we’ve got to let our reps know that we want them to defy him!

CALL SEN. CORNYN and YOUR REP and ask them to oppose any Trump plan for financing the wall that negatively impacts the Texas economy!


“Hello, my name is ______________ and I am a constituent of [Sen. Cornyn or YOUR REP]. I’m calling to ask him to OPPOSE the 20% tariff on Mexican imports and any other plan that asks Texans to unfairly bear the burden of paying for Trump’s wall. Texas officials and businesses AGREE that this plan would threaten Texas jobs, weaken the Texas economy and drive up the cost of living for Texas families. I’m counting on my representatives to put the interests of their constituents first. Thank you.”


Sen. John Cornyn
Central Texas office: (512) 469-6034
Washington, DC office: (202) 224-2934

Congressional District 10
Congressman Michael McCaul
Austin office: 512-473-2357

Congressional District 17
Congressman Bill Flores
Austin office: (512) 373-3378

Congressional District 21
Congressman Lamar Smith
Austin office: (512) 912-7508

Congressional District 25
Congressman Roger Williams
Austin office: (512) 473-8910

Congressional District 31
Congressman John Carter
Austin office: (512) 246-1600

Congressional District 35
Congressman Lloyd Doggett
Austin office: (512) 916-5921

for more info:…/Trump-proposal-for-20-percent-tax-on……/trumps-import-tax-on-mexico…/393802314…/trumps-20-percent-tax-mexican-i…

Roger Williams, R-TX District 25, refuses to meet

TX-25 constituents are at Rep. Roger Williams’ office today. Mr. Williams does not care to meet the people he represents. They have been told that his office is “on private property” and the group cannot go in — only one or two people at a time.