Significant redistricting action occurred in the following five states during the past week:
ARIZONA (current delegation: 5R-3D; gains one seat) – The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission members are indicating that they may have agreement on a congressional plan before Christmas. Now that the state Supreme Court reinstated commission chair Colleen Mathis (I) after the legislature and governor impeached her, the commission can complete its work. It remains to be seen if the members make any significant changes on the previously released map that generated most of the controversy around Mathis.
ILLINOIS (current delegation: 11R-8D; loses one seat) – The federal court considering the Republican lawsuit against the new Democratic-passed map rejected the GOP arguments. This means the plan is now official and will host the congressional elections beginning with the March 20 primary. It is likely the map will remain in place for the rest of the decade. Democrats will make gains under the re-draw, possibly as many as four seats.
NEW JERSEY (current delegation: 7D-6R; loses one seat) – The New Jersey congressional redistricting commission comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans, and a tie-breaker (Republican former Attorney General John Farmer) are taking definitive action to produce a map, possibly before the end of the year. The big question surrounds which two members will be paired, as the state loses a seat in reapportionment. Both Democrats and Republicans are prepared to present maps for the commission’s consideration. Reportedly, Democrats will pair Reps. Scott Garrett (R-NJ-5) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7). Republicans will likely suggest a plan that combines Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8) and Steve Rothman (D-NJ-9). The more likely scenario is a pairing of a Democrat and Republican in a marginal seat, meaning the eventual two chosen incumbents will endure a highly competitive campaign. The inter-party pairing attracting the most attention and possibly traction involves Garrett and Rothman.
OHIO (current delegation: 13R-5D; loses two seats) – Republicans avoided the feared referendum battle on the congressional redistricting map by convincing the requisite number of House Democrats to support their new map and passed the plan with a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers. Legislation receiving such support is not subject to a public referendum.
The plan is designed to elect 12 Republicans and four Democrats in the new 16-member delegation, but several seats are marginal and will yield competitive campaigns. The map also features three incumbent pairings: one matching Democrats; one with Republicans; and an inter-party combination.
In the new 9th District, Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH-10) are placed together. Changes were made that makes the seat even more favorable for Kaptur. Rumors are now suggesting that Kucinich is considering running against Rep. Marcia Fudge (D) in the new Cleveland-based majority African-American district. Fudge already has one serious Democratic opponent, state Sen. Nina Turner. Kucinich is apparently looking at a scenario where the two black candidates could split the African-American vote, allowing him to win with a coalition of white voters.
The new 10th District features the Republican pairing in a seat centered around the Dayton metropolitan area. Reps. Steve Austria and Mike Turner face each other in what should be a highly competitive primary election. The winner will hold the seat in the general election.
Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH-13), whose district has been split apart in several directions, largely to create a new Democratic seat in Columbus, announced that she will oppose Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH-16) in the new marginally Republican 16th District. The territory is more familiar to Renacci, but a Democratic swing toward Election Day could send this seat into the D column. This race features two strong candidates.
In the eastern Ohio 6th District, former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D) has already announced that he will seek a re-match with the man who defeated him in 2010, Rep. Bill Johnson (R). The new 6th, however, is more Republican than the seat that Wilson used to represent and failed to hold.
Additionally, the Ohio plan reinstates the March 6 congressional primary schedule. Because of the controversy surrounding the original map, the election had been temporarily moved to June. With Texas now going to April, the Ohio congressional primaries will be the first in the nation.
PENNSYLVANIA (current delegation: 12R-7D; loses one seat) – Pennsylvania Republicans unveiled their new congressional map and, as predicted, it pairs Democrats Jason Altmire (D-PA-4) and Mark Critz (D-PA-12) in the new western PA 12th District, a seat where President Obama tallied only 45 percent.
Though the map is designed to elect 12 Republicans and six Democrats, President Obama scored a majority of the vote in 10 of the 18 districts, including those represented by Reps. Jim Gerlach (District 6), Pat Meehan (District 7), Mike Fitzpatrick (District 8), Charlie Dent (District 15), and Joe Pitts (District 16). Rep. Todd Platts’ (R) safely Republican 19th District is re-numbered as District 4, since the state no longer possesses 19 districts. The Pennsylvania primary is scheduled for May 17.
TEXAS (current delegation: 23R-9D; gains four seats) – With the congressional and state legislative maps tied up in the courts, Democrats and Republicans have agreed upon a new primary schedule. The original March 6 primary is now officially postponed and will be held April 3 with a run-off on June 5.
The presidential and statewide races will also be held on April 3. One train of thought suggested that the district primaries could be held on a date after the presidential and statewide races are decided on Super Tuesday, March 6. as originally planned. Going after Super Tuesday now makes the state eligible to convert to winner-take-all status. It remains to be seen if the Republican Party of Texas will choose to change the current delegate allocation system.