Defection weakens Texas boycott

Sept. 3, 2003 at 10:09 AM
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ALBUQUERQUE, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- A defection weakened the holdout of Texas Democratic senators in New Mexico but they refuse to give up their boycott against GOP redistricting plans.

Sen. John Whitmire flew home to Houston after disclosing he spent the Labor Day weekend in his home district. The remaining 10 Democrats said they were disappointed in his decision because they have sacrificed to honor constitutional principles.

"I have a newborn baby at home that doesn't even know what I look like," said Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston. "We have senators with serious health problems, new grandchildren and suffering businesses with us."

The Democrats have staged a holdout for more than a month in Albuquerque to keep the Republican majority from passing its congressional redistricting plan. A second special session adjourned last week with no action but Republican Gov. Rick Perry has said he will call a third session.

The return of Whitmire to Texas could give Republicans enough votes in the Senate to bring up redistricting again if Perry should call a third session.

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