Notorious gerrymanderer Trump picked to lead census withdraws, sources say

Donald Trump’s appalling choice to run the census has dropped out. Thomas Brunell was the Trump administration’s pick to be deputy director of the Census Bureau, a job that would have put him in charge of conducting the 2020 census. That was bad news because Brunell is a partisan Republican who is explicitly in favor of gerrymandering. His choice drew immediate protest, and now:

Brunell has withdrawn from consideration, according to two sources who were informed of his decision. Brunell and the Commerce Department, which houses the Census Bureau, did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation.

It’s a great thing not to have a guy running the census who dreams of using it to hurt Democrats in redistricting, but meanwhile the census effort is in chaos:

It has no permanent director, its funding has been cut, field tests have been canceled, and it is unveiling a controversial new IT system for 2020. The Government Accountability Office now calls it a “high risk” program. Moreover, the Justice Department has asked the bureau to add a question to the census form about whether people are US citizens, a move civil rights groups fear will drastically reduce response rates among immigrant communities and cause areas with large immigrant populations to receive less funding and representation. 

The Trump administration may end up causing as much damage through incompetence as through intentional manipulation.