Accompanied by police on the lookout for bounty hunters, 11 Texas Democrats, who fled their home state, vowed Tuesday to stay in neighboring New Mexico as long as it takes to stop a Republican reapportionment plan.
The Democrats accused Republicans of trying to ram through a congressional redistricting plan that could get the GOP seven more seats and increase its narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“It is wrong, and we are prepared to fight as long as we can stand on our feet,” said state Sen. John Whitmire of Houston.
The departure prevented the Senate from getting a quorum needed to conduct business.
The senators left Monday in a replay of a May walkout by Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives. They fled to Oklahoma to block a vote on a similar plan.
The House finally passed it Tuesday.
Remapping is being pushed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas with help from the White House. Democrats say the state should stick to its usual practice of redrawing congressional district maps after the U.S. census every 10 years.
Redistricting was last done by a federal judge in 2001 when the Legislature could not agree on a map.
Senate Republicans urged the Democrats to return and work with them.
Democrats vowed to continue their fight.