The Trump administration appears likely to name Thomas Brunell, a political science professor who believes “competitive elections are bad for America,” to oversee the U.S. Census Bureau.
The University of Texas at Dallas professor has testified more than half a dozen times in favor of Republican efforts to redraw congressional districts — which always seem to target likely Democratic voters, reported Politico.
That would put Brunell — who has no government experience — in position to oversee the 2020 Census, which determines whether states gain or lose electoral voters and seats in the House of Representatives.
The top operational job has traditionally gone to career public servants with a background in statistics, and Congress would have no power to block him.
“If true, it signals an effort by the administration to politicize the Census,” Terri Ann Lowenthal, former co-director of the Census Project, told Politico. “It’s very troubling.”
Lawmakers pushed back when the White House considered Brunell for Census director, which requires Senate confirmation, but deputy director does not.
Brunell– the author of a 2008 book, “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections are Bad for America” — has little demonstrable experience in federal statistics or management.
He has argued that partisan districts filled with like-minded voters — which he believes should be called “fair districts” — promote better representation because fewer voters would back losing candidates.
If he’s nominated, Brunell would become the highest-ranking permanent official at the agency.
“This is worse than making him director,” a former high-ranking Commerce Department official told Politico. “There still is going to be hell to pay on the optics. The Democrats and civil rights community will go nuts.”