Texas 22nd District
Those seeking the story of Houston’s booming growth over the past dozen years would be well advised to drive out the Southwest Freeway for about 45 minutes, if the traffic is not too bad, to Sugar Land. There has been a big change from the sugar plantations that flourished here before the Civil War and from the locale of The Sugarland Express, a 1970s B-movie about a fugitive convict. In once-rural Fort Bend County, on the site of the old Imperial Sugar Mill, is an immaculately clean and fast growing privately planned city of nearly 80,000 people, with privatized water and other services. (There were 33,000 people here in 1990.) The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, with thousands of new and growing businesses, and so is a communitarian spirit, with dozens of churches and civic associations buzzing with activity. People welcome the new freeways and toll roads being built to link them with Houston’s airports and other business nodes.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The image of suburbia has long been one of an all-white haven, but Sugar Land and Fort Bend County are welcoming to immigrants and minorities. Some 21% of the county population is African-American, 23% is Hispanic, and 14% is Asian. In 2003, a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle came to Sugar Land, which was then represented by the powerful conservative Republican Tom DeLay, to see “the anti-San Francisco” and seemed charmed by a community that “welcomes immigrants, shopping centers and jogging paths.” Sugar Land has elected Daniel Wong, from Macao, to the City Council, and Dinesh Shah, from India, served on the board of the Chamber of Commerce. People came from around the world to consecrate the huge new Hindu temple in 2007. This is 21st-century America.
The 22nd Congressional District of Texas covers more than two-thirds of Fort Bend County, including Sugar Land. It also includes one-quarter of Brazoria County, centering on fast-growing Pearland, just south of Houston, plus parts of Galveston County, including Santa Fe, La Marque and Hitchcock. Nearly one-half of its residents are in Harris County, which includes working-class Deer Park, Pasadena and LaPorte south of the Houston Ship Channel, and the more upscale Webster, Clear Lake and Taylor Lake Village surrounding the Johnson Space Center. Overall, the district’s population is 51% white, 13% black, 24% Hispanic and 10% Asian. Politically, the 22nd District leans Republican. Native son George W. Bush won here 67%-33% in 2000, but his majority fell to 64%-36% in 2004. GOP nominee John McCain won the district in 2008 with 58% of the vote.