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Politics & Government

Controversial UT Dallas Professor Won’t Be Running the Census After All

Thomas Brunell, the Trump administration's pick to head the national count, has withdrawn from consideration after criticism of his partisan past.

UT Dallas professor Thomas Brunell, floated months ago as the Trump administration’s choice to head the 2020 U.S. Census, has taken his name out of the running, Mother Jones reports today.

Brunell was a controversial pick. He has little to no experience running any kind of agency, or working outside of academia, for that matter. He also has a history of testifying in defense of Republican redrawing of voting maps, a stance that would put him at odds with the ostensibly nonpartisan undertaking of counting U.S. residents.

Here’s Mother Jones:

Now Brunell has withdrawn from consideration, according to two sources who were informed of his decision. A spokesperson for the Commerce Department, which houses the Census Bureau, confirmed that Brunell is “not under consideration.” Brunell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Unlike past deputy directors of the bureau, who have been nonpartisan career civil servants, Brunell has no prior government experience and is a registered Republican. The University of Texas at Dallas professor is the author of the 2008 book Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America, which provocatively argues that politically lopsided electoral districts offer better representation for voters than competitive ones.

Brunell’s withdrawal may not do much to ease concerns over the upcoming count, which has been dogged by problems and allegations of “sabotage.” Last week, more than 160 mayors, including Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, signed a letter asking Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to keep the census from going completely off the rails.

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