Texas 8th District
Montgomery County, to the north of Houston, was once fenceless cattle country, dotted with roadside stands and barbecues and unpainted farmhouses with water pooling on low swampy fields. In 1931, wildcatter George Strake struck oil near Conroe. Thousands of other wildcatters and roughnecks quickly joined in the boom, and this became one of the richest oil-producing areas in the nation. Active production continues today. The oil boom centered on Conroe was followed by a population boom. In 1972, construction began on a planned community called The Woodlands, 30 miles north of Houston and 15 miles south of Conroe. Development of this new city has barreled along since then, with corporate parks, glistening steel condos, pristine golf courses, and a man-made waterway. Greater Houston has spread far out into this countryside, past the now mislabeled Farm-Market Route 1960, past The Woodlands and even past Conroe. Montgomery County had 49,000 people in 1970 and 413,000 in 2007. It is the seventh fastest-growing county in Texas. There were few signs of the recession that began in 2007 in this region of the country. Even with local devastation from Hurricane Ike in 2008, sales tax revenues increased 74%.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 8th Congressional District includes all of Montgomery County, which contains slightly more than half of the district’s people. The district extends east to the Sabine River on the Louisiana border, and takes in all of eight counties and parts of two others. It covers the Big Thicket National Preserve, a primeval swamp described as “America’s Ark” because of its vast array of animals and plants. The district also includes the town of Huntsville, with one of Texas’s oldest prisons, and the oil refinery town of Orange on the Sabine River, which is popular for bass fishing. It’s gun-totin’ territory as well. After the November 2008 election, local gun shop owners reported a big increase in automatic weapons sales from customers concerned about potential changes in gun laws under Democratic President Barack Obama. Redistricting changes in recent years have made the district less affluent and metropolitan, but it is still solidly Republican. President George W. Bush won 72% of the vote in the district in 2004. In 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain won 74% of the vote, his sixth-best district in the nation.