Texas 29th District
“What built Houston,” wrote John Gunther in Inside U.S.A. “was a combination of cotton, oil, and the ship canal.” The cotton and oil were gifts of nature, though they required much human effort and ingenuity to produce in commercial quantities. The 54-mile Houston Ship Channel was almost totally man’s creation. After the sand-spit port of Galveston was destroyed by a hurricane and tidal wave in 1900, Houston’s elders decided to dredge out Buffalo Bayou and make their inland city a seaport. When the channel officially opened in November 1914, a sluggish, 6-foot-deep creek had become a 40-foot-deep waterway that would turn Houston into one of the nation’s biggest ports. Today, the channel is 45 feet deep and 530 feet wide. More than 8,000 ships a year come through with an estimated $150 billion in foreign trade. The port also is the site of the largest petrochemical complex in the nation. On its west side, Houston seems entirely a white-collar, office-bound city. But on the east and north, around the port and through the maze of refinery towers and pipelines, Houston remains blue-collar, a job magnet for Mexican-Americans and workers from the rural South and even Michigan and California.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 29th Congressional District of Texas covers much of the Ship Channel area and working-class Houston. Included is much of Houston’s Northside, between the Eastex and North Freeways almost to George Bush Intercontinental Airport. It takes in blue-collar neighborhoods in northeast Houston as well. Neighborhoods in this area ballooned in size as more than 200,000 Hurricane Katrina refugees temporarily or permanently relocated to Houston. From 2000 to 2007, the district’s Hispanic population grew from 66% to 72%. Harris County has the second-largest Hispanic population in the U.S. (only Los Angeles County has more). This part of Houston has always been considered heavily Democratic, but in 2004 Republican President George W. Bush lost it by only 56%-44%. In 2008, Democratic nominee Barack Obama won it 62%-38%.