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2003-05-15

One Third of the Texas State Legislature Flees the State and Takes Refuge in a Holiday Inn in Oklahoma

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51 Democrats convene across state lines in an attempt to thwart an effort of House Majority Leader Tom Delay to redraw Congressional districts. We talk to a state representative Mark Homer and commentator Jim Hightower.

Democrats from the Texas legislature have convened informally for a most unusual gathering. They are not in the Texas capitol. They are not even in Texas. They are in the Oklahoma town of Ardmore. And they are in a Holiday Inn.

A group of 51 Democrats fled to Oklahoma over the weekend in order to thwart a quorum and derail Republican efforts to redraw the state’s congressional districts in favor of the GOP.

The redistricting was proposed House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram wanted to "correct" the 2002 election results which led 17 Democrats and 15 Republicans being elected to Congress.

DeLay said Tuesday, "What’s at stake here is the most effective, accurate representation for the state of Texas."

But Democrats have protested the move claiming that the electoral map should not be altered until the next census is released. The Democrats said they’re not coming back until House Speaker Tom Craddick removes redistricting from the House agenda or until Friday — when it’s too late under the rules to consider it. The missing Democrats said they sent their offer to Craddick but hadn’t heard back by Wednesday night. Craddick has repeatedly said he won’t negotiate and won’t drop the redistricting proposal.

  • Mark Homer, Texas state legislator from Paris, Texas. He is speaking to us from the Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
  • Jim Hightower, national radio commentator, editor of the newsletter "The Hightower Lowdown" and the author of If the Gods had Meant us to Vote They Would Have Given us Candidates. He is the former Texas Agriculture Commissioner.

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