Matthews overstated DeLay's redistricting "sacrific[e]," saying falsely that DeLay reduced Republicans in his home district to 55 percent
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Chris Matthews falsely claimed that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) -- "quite sacrificially" -- engineered a redistricting in Texas that reduced his home district to "only about a 55 percent Republican district now," in order to raise GOP percentages in other districts and strengthen the Republican majority in Congress. In fact, the congressional district that DeLay represents is 65.9 percent Republican following DeLay's redistricting plan.
Discussing Rep. Tom DeLay's (R-TX) announcement that he will not seek re-election and will resign his seat in Congress, MSNBC host Chris Matthews falsely claimed during an April 4 interview with NBC Today anchor Katie Couric that DeLay "quite sacrificially" engineered a redistricting in Texas to increase the Republican majority in Congress at the expense of his own political stability, reducing his home district to "only about a 55 percent Republican district now." In fact, according to an October 16, 2005, Dallas Morning News column by Todd J. Gillman on DeLay's political troubles, the congressional district that DeLay represents, Texas' 22nd District, is 65.9 percent Republican following DeLay's redistricting plan. Despite that sizable Republican majority in his district, DeLay himself received 55 percent of the vote in his 2004 re-election bid.
Despite Matthews's falsehood, Couric was nonetheless impressed by the volume of information he provided, saying, "Whoa, that's a lot of information early in the morning."
From Gillman's October 16, 2005, Dallas Morning News column:
Before redistricting, the DeLay district included most of his own Fort Bend County, three-fourths of Brazoria [County] and a 4 percent sliver of Harris [County]. Republican statewide candidates averaged 67 percent.
The new district is only slightly less "safe," with a 65.9 percent GOP vote. But equalizing populations across the state meant he had to give up most of Brazoria and a third of his Fort Bend contingent. The Harris portion doubled, and he got NASA-area precincts he very much wanted. But he also had to swallow a fifth of Galveston County - Democratic turf.
In the new district, three of every 10 voters had never been represented by Mr. DeLay before this year. Their loyalties and trust aren't cemented.
From the April 4 broadcast of NBC's Today:
COURIC: So -- and the Democrats are really pouncing on this already, aren't they?
MATTHEWS: Well, they're all over the place. I saw on the websites last night -- they're all over it, of course. And we're going to have DeLay on tonight to talk about it. And he's a fighter. He's still "The Hammer." But I think he knows that his party could easily lose the House. The fact that he believes that his one seat, out of 435, could be decisive confirms a lot of the beliefs we've had that this election -- which only takes 15 seats for the Democrats to take over -- could come down to one or two seats either way, and he guesses that his could be one of them. My feeling, having been down there in his district for Hardball, is that I'm not sure the Republicans are going to beat Nick Lampson, the Democratic candidate, because, quite sacrificially, I must say, DeLay gave away a lot of Republican votes when he went for that power grab down there in Texas, to create a lot of Republican districts. And he gave a lot of Republicans away. It's only about a 55 percent Republican district now. I don't think the Republican is the favorite, even with DeLay getting out of the race.
COURIC: Whoa, that's a lot of information early in the morning. OK, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I know. I know, Katie.
COURIC: Anyway, congratulations on breaking the story, and thanks so much, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.