Texas State Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Fort Worth, District 10) is suspending her reelection campaign saying the race is unwinnable for a Democrat under redrawn district maps approved by the Republican-led state legislature last fall.
Powell, who ran unopposed in the March 2022 Democratic Primary, said in a statement Wednesday she would be pulling her name off the November ballot. Republican Phil King, who defeated challenger Warren Norred in the primary, will be the only Republican or Democrat on the ballot for State Senate District 10 in November.
District 10, which previously existed entirely inside Tarrant County, was redrawn last year into a sprawling district that includes a smaller portion of Tarrant County while expanding to the west and south through seven rural counties that include parts of Parker County, and all of Johnson, Palo Pinto, Stephens, Shackelford, Callahan, and Brown counties.
Powell, who said she was elected by a coalition of diverse voters in Tarrant County, told NBC 5 in October 2021 that the district became less diverse with the addition of the rural counties.
“Under the new map that will remain intact through November, the results of the 2022 election are predetermined. Election prospects for any candidate who relies on a diverse voter coalition will be thwarted,” Powell said. “So … I have decided to withdraw my name from the ballot for the State Senate District 10 race.”
“I cannot in good faith ask my dedicated supporters to spend time and contribute precious resources on an unwinnable race,” Powell said. “That time and those resources are better spent on efforts that will advance our causes and on the continuing efforts to restore voter rights.”
In a video posted to YouTube Wednesday, Powell said District 10, with its growing minority voting strength, has been under attack since the mid-2000s. She said a federal court ruled in 2011 that redistricting maps that were drawn then were intentionally discriminatory and ordered politicians to restore the district.
The maps approved by the legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott last fall are being challenged in court, though that hearing won’t take place until September. Additionally, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against the state in December 2021 saying the maps were once again drawn with “discriminatory intent” and that they “dilute increased minority strength.”
A request for a temporary injunction to suspend the use of the maps was denied in January ensuring the maps were in place for both the March 1 primary and the upcoming November election.
“It was a gerrymander that completely split apart the coalition of voters who voted for me,” Powell told NBC 5 Wednesday. “The African-American population, the Hispanic, the Asian-American population and this is a more Anglo population now and it would be impossible for a candidate like me, who relies on that coalition district, to be elected in the new SD-10.”
Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), chair of the redistricting committee, defended the maps in 2021 saying she followed the law and that the maps are compliant with the Voting Rights Act and that while many factors were considered in redrawing the maps racial constituencies were not among them.
Powell said she and her staff will continue to serve the citizens of Texas through the remainder of her term and then will continue her work outside the walls of the Senate.
“I will miss it and I say this all the time, it was actually the honor of a lifetime to be able to do this and to have been elected by the Tarrant County electorate,” Powell told NBC 5 Wednesday. “It was absolutely a joy and we will look to the future with other opportunities to serve.”
The mid-term election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. The last day to register to vote in the November election is Oct. 11. Primary runoffs for the November election are on May 24.
NBC 5’s Julie Fine contributed to this report.