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Commerce, Greenville have a new Congressman: Van Taylor

Most of Hunt County moves into the Texas 3rd Congressional District under new maps drawn by the Texas Legislature and approved by Gov. Greg Abbott.

You can’t blame Hunt County voters if they turn around for one last look at the Texas 4th Congressional District. From Sam Rayburn to Ralph Hall, it was quite a ride.

Most of Hunt County – including Commerce and Greenville – has now been placed in the Texas 3rd Congressional District under new maps approved by the Texas Legislature and signed by Gov. Abbott Monday.

Redrawn TX-3 includes most of Collin, Hunt Counties

The new Texas 3rd is composed of central and eastern Collin County as well as central and northern Hunt County. McKinney is the largest city in the district, which has been represented in Washington by U.S. Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano). The district formerly lay entirely in Collin County. With the new easterly orientation, the Texas 3rd loses Frisco and part of Plano.

The new Texas 4th still runs along the Red River from Lake Texoma to the Arkansas line, but the district lost large chunks of the Ark-La-Tex region to the Texas 1st Congressional District. Sherman-Denison, Bonham, Paris, and Sulphur Springs remain in the Texas 4th, but Mount Pleasant and Texarkana are no longer in the district.

U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Sherman) is in his first year of representing the Texas 4th in Congress. Fallon follows John Ratcliffe (2015-2020), who resigned from office to become Director of National Intelligence under the Trump administration. The district previously had a long tradition of stability, with only three Congressman over an 81-year stretch. Northeast Texas was represented in Washington by Republican and former Democrat Ralph Hall 1981-2015, Democrat Ray Roberts 1962-1981, and Democrat Sam Rayburn 1913-1961. Rayburn served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives during most of the period from 1940 until his death in 1961.

TX-4 keeps northern counties, loses some in Ark-La-Tex

Delta, Fannin, Grayson, Lamar, Rains, and Rockwall counties remain entirely within TX-4. The Texas 4th also keeps northern Red River and Bowie County, while also acquiring an odd-looking strip of western Collin County, including Prosper, Celina, Frisco, and part of Plano; and a little chunk of east-central Denton County.

While most of Hunt County moves from TX-4 to TX-3, far southern Hunt County, including Quinlan and West Tawakoni, remain in TX-4. That strip serves as a kind of bridge connecting the district’s historic base in Rockwall County with the rest of the Texas 4th.

To the east, the southern half of Red River County, including Clarksville, moves from TX-4 to the 1st Texas Congressional District. Franklin County also moves into TX-1. The Texas 1st includes Texarkana, Tyler, and the Longview-Marshall area. U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler) has represented TX-1 since 2005.

Elsewhere around the region, eastern Wood County, which had been part of the Texas 1st, now joins the Texas 5th Congressional District, along with the rest of Wood County. Kaufman and Van Zandt counties remain in the Texas 5th, which Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) has represented in D.C. since 2019.

Rural Republican strength counters Democratic rise in suburbs

The Republican lawmakers who drew the maps addressed the challenge of growing Democratic strength in Texas suburbs by tapping into the power of the GOP’s dominance in rural areas. Changes often involved adding rural Republican voters to competitive suburban districts, or moving competitive suburban areas into solidly Republican rural districts. Reactions to the new maps corresponded roughly to whether observers viewed a solidification of GOP power in Texas as a welcome development.

A national right-leaning elections blog, RRH Elections, noted that the new TX-3 gives Republicans a nine-point majority where the margin had been six. Meanwhile, the blog also noted that while TX-4’s incorporation of tossup districts in Collin County dilutes GOP dominance, the district remains a safe one for Republicans (28-point margin reduced to 15).

Statewide, the new map also adds two additional U.S. House seats for Texas, the most of any state in this year’s reapportionment. The two new districts were drawn into the Austin and Houston metro regions. Although Texas received those districts because of explosive population growth — 95 percent of it attributable to people of color — both new districts are in white-majority areas.

Redistricting also reduced the number of districts with Black residents as the majority of eligible voters drops from one to zero, according to a Texas Tribune study. Districts in which Hispanics make up the majority of eligible voters dropped from eight to seven, the Texas Tribune said.