After Three Decades, Austin's Congressional District 21 Sends A New Representative To D.C.

Jan 3, 2019

One of the 100 congressional freshmen starting work today is from Central Texas.

Republican Chip Roy is now representing the 21st Congressional District, which stretches from San Antonio to Austin and up into the Hill Country. Roy is replacing Republican Lamar Smith, who retired after holding the seat since 1987.

Before he was elected to Congress, Roy was a longtime adviser to Republican officials, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. He's the only new congressman from the six congressional seats representing parts of Austin. Despite Democratic challengers, Republican incumbents in four of those districts held onto their seats.

Credit Chip Roy campaign

The lone Democrat representing Austin, Lloyd Doggett, also won re-election.

Even though Austin is one of the most liberal cities in the state, very few Democrats have been elected in the area. Democrats have argued that when Republicans drew political districts in 2011 and 2013, they intentionally carved up districts around Austin to dilute the voting power of Democrats.

Austin is the largest U.S. city that doesn’t have a congressional district squarely anchored in it. Most districts in Austin include only a small part of the city and then larger swaths of more Republican-leaning areas.

Statewide, Democrats gained two seats in the last election: Colin Allred won a district in the Dallas area, and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher won a district in Houston.  

Texas is also sending its first two Latinas to Congress. Both won reliably Democratic seats in El Paso and Houston.

Texas has 10 new members of Congress this year – six Republicans and four Democrats.