WASHINGTON, D.C. – The founder and director of the Lone Star Project says Republicans gerrymandered the 15th Congressional District of Texas by diluting the voting strength of Hispanics citizens.

As a result, he said, it made the White vote more powerful, thus turning it into a Republican leaning seat.

“It is called the nudge factor. How do Republicans reduce the Hispanic voting strength without reducing the population? The way you do that is you reduce the Hispanic participants in the election. You do that with Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP). Thus, you increase the White Citizen Voting Age Population. That is what they did in District 15,” Angle said.

Matt Angle

Angle pointed out that CD 15 is currently a little over 23 percent White CVAP. The previous DC 15, prior to redistricting, was 21 percent White CVAP. He said the Hispanic CVAP is about half a point lower than it was. 

“That doesn’t sound like very much but if you are 6 feet tall you can drown in six and half feet of water. That is what they have done.”

Angle said Republicans did a similar thing with Congressional District 23, 20 years ago. “They reduced the Hispanic voting strength just enough. Let’s say they get 40 to 45 percent of the Hispanic vote. They can still win because they are getting 70 percent of the White vote. That is what it is about.”

Angle was dismissive of claims Republicans want to win the Hispanic vote.

“Republicans, as long as I have been involved in politics, have talked about reaching out to Hispanics but they really don’t want to win the Hispanic vote. They just want to get enough so that the White vote is decisive.”

According to its website, the Lone Star Project “applies years of broad-based political experience to give targeted candidates and allied organizations the essential political tools and services they can’t otherwise find or afford.” It says the group’s work “doesn’t just strengthen individual campaigns, it enhances the efforts of others doing the hard work to elect Texas Democrats.”

Focusing again on CD 15, Angle said that Joe Biden, in 2020, carried the old CD 15with about 52 percent. “He gets about 48 percent in this new district.”

Another good example, he said, was Lupe Valdez, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2018. He pointed out she had little funding for her campaign. “In the old District 15 she got 52 percent and the current District 15 she would have just lost it.”

Angle explained: “It is the perfect example of the nudge. Just shave enough of the Hispanic voting strength off so you the Whites have the advantage. And your candidate can win it even if they don’t win the Hispanic vote.”

Angle’s analysis resonated with remarks U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez made in an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian at the time he announced he was moving from CD 15 to Congressional District 34. He said in CD 34 he picked up Hispanics in the eastern portion of Hidalgo County that have a much greater propensity to vote than those in the western portion of Hidalgo County. CD 15 picked up the voters in the western portion of Hidalgo County from Congressional District 28. 

Asked why the Voting Rights Act could not have prevented the changes made to the boundary lines of CD 15, Angle said: “That is a really good point. If the Voting Rights Act pre-clearance provisions had been in place the Congressional District 15 map could never have gone into effect. Because it clearly retrogressed Congressional District 15. It reduced the voting strength of Latinos.”

Angle said Republicans don’t even defend that in court. 

“In court they have never said we didn’t really retrogress Hispanics. They just say, we did not do it to hurt Hispanics, we did it for partisan reasons. They just say partisan gerrymandering is protected and so everything they do is partisan,” Angle said.

“In Texas, and this is not just true in this map, it is all true all the way back to Tom DeLay’s mid-decade redistricting, the goal for Texas Republicans is partisan but their method is racial gerrymandering.”

Angle was interviewed on Election Day, before the results of the general election was known. He said whatever happened, the Democratic Party candidate for CD 15, Michelle Vallejo, had, given the  made “a heroic effort.”

Angle reiterated the way the gerrymander occurs.

“They have got a name for it. It is called the nudge factor. Nudge the political numbers one way or the other but keep the actual racial percentages very close to the same. It will show up in the Citizen Voting Age Population. It is just to get the White percentage to go up a little bit. It does not have to go up more than a point or two before it becomes the difference between winning and losing,” Angle said. 

“When those districts become so close that Whites can make a difference, then they really start working the Whites to come out. And, it is much easier for those Whites to get excited about voting Republican in a general election than it is for them to vote in a primary.”

Angle added: “It is very much a national strategy. They undermine Democratic voting strength and base voting strength and then they maximize their base and bombard the Democrats with negatives, not to convince them but to suppress them.”

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