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Sen. Beverly Powell ends her 'unwinnable' reelection campaign in the midst of redistricting fight

Sen. Beverly Powell sits in front of a seal with her name on it and a U.S. and Texas flag in a YouTube video posted April 6, 2022.
Courtesy Beverly Powell's YouTube video
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Incumbent Sen. Beverly Powell has announced she will formally withdraw from the Senate District 10 race, due to redistricted maps that she claims dilutes the power of Black, Hispanic and Asian voters. A federal court in February declined to block the maps before the March primaries, meaning the maps will remain in effect for the November contest.

North Texas state Sen. Beverly Powell said Wednesday she's suspending her reelection campaign. She claims the newly redistricted maps have created an "unwinnable race" for anyone who relies on a diverse voter base.

Powell says she hoped federal courts would block new maps that expanded her district from Tarrant County to cover seven rural, deeply conservative counties. She and six county residents filed a lawsuit against the state in November that claims the new maps purposely dilutes voting power among communities of color.

However, a three-judge panel in El Paso denied the suit's request to temporarily block the maps from being used in the primaries. Powell said the court will not hear the case until this fall.

"Under the new map that will remain intact through November, the results of the 2022 map are predetermined," Powell said. "Election prospects for any candidate who relies on a diverse voter coalition will be thwarted."

Powell's announcement clears the way for Phil King, a Weatherford Republican and longtime Texas House District 61 representative who announced he would run last fall if the new maps were finalized.

King said in an emailed statement that Powell's announcement was "certainly unexpected" and the two former competitors had "a very nice phone call" Wednesday morning.

"I am very excited to represent the eight counties of Senate District 10," King wrote. "In advance of the November election and the next legislative session, I will continue to meet with voters to seek their input and earn their trust. I intend to hit the ground running and fulfill the commitment I made to serve as a strong and effective conservative voice for this district."

The new map covers part of Tarrant and Parker counties and all of Johnson, Stephens, Brown, Callahan, Shackleford and Palo Pinto counties.

District 10 has flipped between Democrat and Republican for several election cycles. Powell won her first term in 2018 over Republican incumbent Konni Burton. Burton succeeded Democrat Wendy Davis, who challenged redistricting efforts in 2011 and 2013 under the similar allegations that the new lines fragmented communities of color.

Powell, in a withdrawal announcement posted to YouTube, said the seat has been under attack since the mid-2000s. She said that she will serve through the end of her 2023 term and keep fighting the new maps outside the court.

"I cannot in good faith ask my dedicated supporters to spend time and contribute precious resources on an unwinnable race," she said.

Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement Wednesday that the party expects the districts to be redrawn for violating the Voting Rights Act.

"While we of course supported Sen. Powell, we understand that this is a result of Texas Republicans intentionally redrawing districts to be more favorable to be more favorable to their party and strip the rights of Texans to choose who represents them," Hinojosa wrote.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at kbroussard@kera.org. You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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Updated: April 6, 2022 at 3:23 PM CDT
This story was updated at 3:22 p.m. CST April 4, 2022, to include comments from Rep. Phil King and Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa.