Although Texas' economy has diversified in the past several decades, it has always been intertwined with oil development. And oil is inseparable from Beaumont and Galveston. The former is located near Spindletop, where oil was discovered in the state in 1901. The latter, situated on one of the barrier islands that run up Texas' gulf coast, was a major city until a hurricane leveled the town, claiming the lives of 8,000 people in 1900. It never truly recovered, but the port there still serves as a point of origin for United States exports.
Beaumont and Galveston anchored the 9th Congressional District from 1934 through 2004. The blue-collar base helped ensure that the district would not send staid Southern conservatives to Congress. Instead, it selected fiery Texas populists like Jack Brooks and Nick Lampson. But in the infamous 2004 mid-decade redistricting, Beaumont and Galveston were split up. The court-drawn map this cycle placed them back in the same district, combining them with Republican-leaning portions of the old suburban 14th, represented by Ron Paul.
Having run for president this cycle, Paul is retiring, setting up a free-for-all on the Republican side. State Rep. Randy Weber emerged victorious. Lampson is carrying the Democrats' banner. He has roots in the district, having represented the Galveston/Beaumont portions from 1996 through 2004. But while this district isn't as conservative as Paul's old one was, its Republican lean should still be enough to carry Weber to victory in November.