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The Texas Eleven were a group of Texas Senate Democrats who fled Texas for Albuquerque, New Mexico for 46 days in 2003 aimed at preventing the passage of controversial redistricting legislation that was intended to benefit Texas Republicans. A group of Texas House representatives, dubbed the Killer Ds, had fled the state earlier that same summer for the same reason.
U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, then a powerful figure in Texas politics, advocated arresting the Texas Eleven, telling reporters that he supported using FBI agents or U.S. Marshals to arrest the runaway Democrats and bring them back to Austin, asserting that redistricting is a matter of federal concern.
The Texas Constitution calls for the 32-member Texas Senate — 31 Senators and the Lt. Governor — to have a quorum of two-thirds of its members present in order to conduct a vote, which means that the absence of 11 members can prevent the Senate from voting. Eleven Democrats left the state to avoid being forced to return to the Senate by Texas Rangers, going to Oklahoma and New Mexico to be out of reach of Texas authorities. After successfully preventing a quorum for an entire 30-day special session of the legislature, Senator John Whitmire left New Mexico and returned to Texas. The remaining ten Senate Democrats (often referred to as the "Texas Eleven Minus One: following Whitmire's departure), stayed in Albuquerque for several more days but returned to Austin and the Texas Senate after Whitmire's presence on the Senate floor created the quorum needed for the Senate to meet.
Texas political advisor Harold Cook helped organize the quorum break. Cook served as the group's primary spokesman, and stayed with the senators for the duration of their time in New Mexico.
List of senators
The "Texas Eleven" senators were:
- Gonzalo Barrientos (Austin), Dist. 14
- Rodney Ellis (Houston), Dist. 13
- Mario Gallegos (Houston), Dist. 6
- Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (McAllen), Dist. 20
- Eddie Lucio, Jr. (Brownsville), Dist. 27
- Frank Madla (San Antonio), Dist. 19
- Eliot Shapleigh (El Paso), Dist. 29
- Leticia Van de Putte (San Antonio), Dist. 26
- Royce West (Dallas), Dist. 23
- John Whitmire (Houston), Dist. 15
- Judith Zaffirini (Laredo), Dist. 21