Texas 7th District
When George H.W. Bush moved from Midland in West Texas to Houston in 1960, he bought a house in Briarwood in what was then the western outskirts of the fast-growing city. He returned to Houston in 1993 after losing his re-election bid for the presidency and built a new house a mile from his old one, near lush Memorial Park. Briarwood is not far from the retail and commercial epicenter of Houston. The lavish Galleria, the fourth-largest mall in the United States, draws more than 24 million shoppers a year under its impressive glass atriums. Downtown Houston is sprouting residential apartments. Although the sale of high-priced homes fell in 2008, the economy of Houston is still relatively strong. Oil company revenues have been up and many businesses moved here from the New Orleans area following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 7th Congressional District of Texas is the lineal descendant of the House district that in 1966 elected Bush as the first Republican ever to represent Houston. It occupied far more territory then, half of Harris County. In successive redistrictings, its boundaries have been pared back, as the population of the west side of Houston has skyrocketed. Today, more than 1.5 million people live in an area where 350,000 lived when Bush was first elected. The 7th District touches the western edge of downtown Houston and includes most of the land between the Katy Freeway (Interstate 10) and Westheimer running straight west to Highway 6. To the south, it includes the affluent neighborhoods southwest of downtown Houston, Rice University and the Texas Medical Center, Belleaire, some small Buffalo Bayou towns and a swatch of Houston west of the 610 highway loop. Most of Houston’s business and professional elite live within its boundaries: the partners of the big law firms, cutting-edge medical researchers, and society mavens. Since 2000, Hispanics have increased from 18% to 23% of the total population.
Back in the 1980s, the 7th District was one of the most Republican districts in the country, and it still is. But as with many precincts of the very elite, it did not take a liking to President George W. Bush’s brand of Republicanism. Within these boundaries he won 69% of the vote in 2000 but dropped to 64% in 2004. As with other close-in Texas suburbs, local Republican fortunes continued to slide in 2008, although it was still a safe GOP district. It voted 58% for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.