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THE NATION

Texas Democrats Get a Net Boost

Online group expects to raise $1 million for senators who left state over redistricting battle.

August 24, 2003|From Reuters

DALLAS — The grass-roots Internet group MoveOn.org said Saturday it expected to raise $1 million to support 11 Texas Democratic senators who fled to New Mexico over a redistricting fight.

The liberal, Web-based group, which has helped raise millions of dollars for Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean, launched the campaign last week that will produce television ads and radio spots to criticize a White House-backed plan to redraw Texas congressional districts.

The redistricting would add about five to seven Republican seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, adding to a narrow Republican majority.

"This is the single biggest fund-raising campaign we have done on a single issue," said Zack Exley, organizing director for MoveOn.

As of early Saturday, the group had received about $850,000, with the average contribution about $30, he said. The campaign started after one of the 11 senators posted a letter on the site Tuesday.

The Democrats fled to Albuquerque about a month ago to break a quorum in the state Senate and to stop a proposal to redraw the state's congressional districts.

Republicans control the Texas Legislature for first time in 130 years.

Texas' congressional maps were redrawn in 2001 by a panel of federal judges when the Legislature could not agree on a plan.

Most states usually redraw their political maps once every 10 years when U.S. Census figures on population have been tabulated.

Leticia Van de Putte, the leader of the 11 fugitive Democrats, was pleased by the Internet campaign.

"We never imagined there would be such an overwhelming amount of support from across the country coming our way in such a short time," she said.

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