Texas Five

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The Texas Five was a term coined for a group of five Democratic members of the United States House of Representatives from the state of Texas. They were identified in this manner because the Congressional redistricting plan passed by the Texas legislature for the 2004 elections forced these five Democrats out of their previous districts and into ones dominated by Republicans and/or occupied by Republican incumbents. The five Democrats were Martin Frost, Charles Stenholm, Max Sandlin, Nick Lampson, and Chet Edwards. Four Democrats lost their bids for reelection. Only Edwards survived the redistricting, but was eventually defeated by a Republican in 2010. The races were especially notable for their extreme cost. Martin Frost's race against a Republican incumbent, Pete Sessions, was the most expensive U.S. House race in the 2004 elections. The four defeated Democrats had a combined 68 years of experience in the House of Representatives.


Some consider the plan that ousted four of the Texas Five a prime example of gerrymandering. Naturally, a redistricting plan that put five long-time incumbents in trouble was controversial. Representative Tom DeLay was responsible for the plan, which he forced through the Texas Legislature after two walkouts by Texas Democrats. DeLay has since been accused of wrongdoing for using the Federal Aviation Administration to force the Democrats back into session in Texas to vote on the redistricting, as well as for helping fund several Republican candidates for the state legislature in 2002. Republicans took the majority in the state legislature in 2002. In October 2004, the United States Supreme Court ordered a lower court to review the redistricting plan to determine whether or not it was unduly partisan and unfair to Texas voters. The Circuit Court upheld the districts but it went back to the Supreme Court, which in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry dismissed the statewide claims of partisan gerrymandering (7-2), in large part because the Court found the districts drawn in 1991, largely by Frost to be just as partisan. However, the Supreme Court also ruled 5-4 that District 23 was a racial gerrymander in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

See 2003 Texas redistricting for information on the Democratic walkouts from the Texas legislature to Oklahoma and the resulting controversy.