Texas Eleven

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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. However, the quorum-busting tactic was ineffective as the redistricting plan was later passed.

Texas Senate

The Texas Senate is the upper house of the Texas State Legislature. There are 31 members of the Senate, representing single-member districts across the U.S. state of Texas, with populations of approximately 806,000 per constituency, based on the 2010 U.S. Census. There are no term limits, and each term is four years long. Elections are held in even-numbered years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. In elections in years ending in 2, all seats are up for election. Half of the senators will serve a two-year term, based on a drawing; the other half will fill regular four-year terms. In the case of the latter, they or their successors will be up for two-year terms in the next year that ends in 0. As such, in other elections, about half of the Texas Senate is on the ballot. The Senate meets at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The Republicans currently control the chamber, which is made up of 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats.

Democratic Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

New Mexico State of the United States of America

New Mexico is a state in the Southwestern region of the United States of America; its capital and cultural center is Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México, while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Mountain States and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona; its other neighboring states are Oklahoma to the northeast, Texas to the east-southeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a population around two million, New Mexico is the 36th state by population. With a total area of 121,592 sq mi (314,920 km2), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, northern and eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate.

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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.

United States House of Representatives lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they compose the legislature of the United States.

Tom DeLay American politician

Thomas Dale DeLay is a former member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Texas's 22nd congressional district from 1985 until 2006. He was Republican Party (GOP) House Majority Leader from 2003 to 2005.

Federal Bureau of Investigation governmental agency belonging to the United States Department of Justice

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States, and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes.

Background

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 Ranger Division Texas law enforcement agency

The Texas Ranger Division, commonly called the Texas Rangers, is a U.S statewide investigative law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction in Texas, based in the capital city of Austin. Over the years, the Texas Rangers have investigated crimes ranging from murder to political corruption, acted in riot control and as detectives, protected the governor of Texas, tracked down fugitives, and functioned as a paramilitary force at the service of both the Republic (1836–1845) and the state of Texas.

Oklahoma State of the United States of America

Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.

John Whitmire Houston, Texas politician

John Harris Whitmire is an American attorney and politician who is the longest-serving of current members of the Texas State Senate. Since 1983, he has representing District 15, which includes much of northern Houston, Texas. His tenure earns him the title of Dean of the Senate. Previously he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1973 through 1982. He also served as the Acting Governor of Texas in 1993 as part of the Governor for A Day tradition.

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, Jr. is a former Democratic member of the Texas Senate representing the 14th District from 1985 to 2007. He was also a member of the Texas House of Representatives from Austin from 1975 to 1985.

Rodney Ellis Houston, Texas politician

Rodney Glenn Ellis is an American politician. He represented Texas' 13th state senate district in the Texas Senate from 1990 to 2017. The district contains portions of Harris County, including downtown Houston, and Fort Bend County. He is a member of the Democratic Party. On June 25, 2016, Ellis won the Democratic Party's nomination for Harris County Commissioners Court Precinct 1. He was elected county commissioner on November 8, 2016 and sworn into office on January 1, 2017.

Juan Hinojosa Texas politician

Juan Jesus "Chuy" Hinojosa is a Democratic member of the Texas Senate representing the 20th District.

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