Newly proposed political boundaries in Texas open a door for a Weatherford Republican House member to take aim at a Democratic incumbent in the upper chamber, and they re-introduce a freshman lawmaker to Parker County.
“I had a good freshman year,” Rep. Glenn Rogers, R-Graford, said Monday, noting he carried the bill adding a 13th paycheck for teachers that was passed in special session this summer.
Under new political maps proposed in Austin, though not yet finally approved, Rogers will run for a first full term representing Parker, Palo Pinto and Stephens counties.
Under the proposal, Rogers loses Hood and five other counties while retaining his home county of Palo Pinto and adding the southwest half of Parker County.
Parker County now is represented in the House by Republican Phil King of Weatherford, who announced he will seek the Senate seat held by incumbent Democrat Beverly Powell.
King declined multiple requests for interview this past week, noting the Senate map is not yet finalized.
King currently represents Parker and Wise counties, but a longtime observer of Texas politics said the newly proposed Senate District 10 is tailored for the Republican to take over.
King’s announcement last week decried Texas Democrats as having “fully embraced the radical agenda of their national party.”
“Now, because of the redistricting process which takes place every 10 years, there is an opportunity to continue that fight in the Texas Senate,” he wrote, citing the Fort Worth-based Senate district “ …currently represented by a liberal Democrat from Tarrant County.”
First-term senator Powell immediately attacked the newly drawn district, issuing a statement recalling that a 2011 redraw of the district was tossed out by federal courts as “intentionally discriminatory.”
The district Powell represents is heavily populated by brown and black minorities and is entirely inside Tarrant County. The redrawn proposal captures southern Tarrant County and then stretches west to take in Parker and Palo Pinto counties plus three others — all with few minority residents.
“Senate District 10 is an effective crossover district where Black (sic), Hispanic and Asian Americans vote in coalition to elect their candidate of choice,” Powell wrote, strongly hinting she will seek a second term. “I will fight ferociously to protect them from this discriminatory attack on their constitutionally protected voting rights.”
Longtime Texas political observer Harvey Kronberg, founder and publisher of the online Quorum Report, singled out the proposed Senate District 10 as ripe for a legal challenge.
“This one appears to be so egregious and so deliberate it may spill into an appropriate racial definition for denying a district,” Kronberg said of the proposal for Senate District 10. “If I was a betting man, I’d say (courts) will react negatively to this district.”
To the north, Sen. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, welcomed a new map giving his District 30 the northeast half of Parker County, including some of Weatherford.
“There’s a lot of advantages to having two senators,” Springer said, referring to Parker County’s split on the proposal.
Springer ascended to the Senate last year in a special election after eight years in the Texas House of Representatives.
A 1985 graduate of Weatherford High School, he welcomed the opportunity to represent part of Parker County.
Neither he nor any officeholder interviewed for this story had heard of any potential opponents this early in the 2022 political cycle.
Both Springer and Rogers said their newly proposed districts would allow them to be both rural and urban voices. Springer noted the newly announced Rivian electric vehicle plant on the western edge of Tarrant County.
“That’s going to have some needs for transportation, for us working with TxDOT,” he said. “Those are different issues than we face in rural Texas.”
Springer also acknowledged the race shaping up between King and Powell will be one to watch.
“Senate District 10 is probably the hottest topic of conversation right now,” he said. “It pretty much looks like it will become a Republican district.”