Monthly Archives: November 2021

Iowa Map Enacted

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 10, 2021 — Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed the new Iowa redistricting map package, legislation that contained the new US House, state Senate, and state House of Representatives maps. The new congressional plan makes what appear to be minor changes to the state’s four districts, while again crafting a new quartet that would have voted in unison for former President Donald Trump. As is the case on the current map, Trump’s district victory margins featured varying percentages.

The Iowa redistricting system is unique. Some believe the state redistricts through a commission, but that is not the case. Rather, a state legislative committee is tasked with drawing the three-map plans and presenting them to the legislature for final approval. The plans must be submitted as a package, and the legislators may only vote up or down on the whole group, as no amendments to any of the maps are allowed.

The committee also employs a formulaic algorithm to create the districts without regard to political proclivities or deference to incumbents. If three map packages are rejected, the legislature then takes full control of the process.

The adopted package is the second plan iteration. The committee staff first put forth a series of maps that failed to make it through the first state Senate committee of jurisdiction. That congressional map was much different than the ultimately enacted plan. In the first draw, freshman Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) would have been placed in a decidedly Democratic district that would have made her an underdog for re-election in 2022.

It is likely, however, that alone was not the reason for the Senate committee members rejecting the map package. The committee staff created two separate pairings of three incumbent senators apiece, thus dooming the entire package. Once returned, the congressional map plan, using a changed formula, returned to a similar configuration as under the current map.

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Rep. Beutler Trailing in New Poll

Six-term Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground/Vancouver)

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 9, 2021 — Another of the House Republican Trump impeachment supporters appears to be having trouble back home. A new Trafalgar Group poll (Oct. 30-Nov. 2; 682 likely WA-3 primary voters; combination live interview, interactive voice response system, and text) finds six-term Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground/Vancouver) placing third in a field of four as a prelude to next year’s jungle primary.

According to Trafalgar, former Green Beret Joe Kent (R), who has former President Trump’s endorsement, leads the candidate field with 35 percent preference. Next is Democrat Brian Hennrich, a movie theatre technician, who records 24 percent. For this poll, Hennrich realistically serves as a placebo candidate to test Democratic support. Rep. Beutler then places third with 23 percent and another Republican, pastor and author Heidi St. John, posts 10 percent support. An additional eight percent said they would vote for “another Democrat.”

Surveys such as this will likely spur the Democrats to recruit a much stronger candidate in what plays as a marginal southwestern Evergreen State congressional district.

Washington is one of three states that employs a top-two jungle primary system. All candidates are placed on the same ballot and the top two finishers, regardless of percentage or party, advance into the general election. Therefore, this poll would suggest that Rep. Beutler, at least today, could be eliminated before the general election cycle even officially begins. Washington has a late primary, Aug. 2, 2022, so plenty of time remains for the congresswoman to right her political ship.

The Washington districts won’t likely change a great deal in redistricting. Washington redistricts by commission, and has since 1991. Because none of the state’s 10 districts need a major population influx, it is probable that most of the seats, and especially District 3 (largely because it must only shed 2,222 individuals) will remain relatively constant.

The 3rd District is nestled into the southwestern corner of the state, bordering Oregon and the Pacific Ocean. The seat needing to gain the most people is Rep. Derek Kilmer’s (D-Gig Harbor) 6th District, but the 33,730 residents it requires is still a relatively small number in comparison to some other states.

Currently, the Beutler district votes as a marginal Republican seat. Former President Trump carried WA-3 in 2020 with a 51-47 percent margin after posting a 50-42 percent showing against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Rep. Beutler, in what was billed as a competitive race at the beginning of the 2020 election cycle, scored a 56-43 percent re-election victory. She has averaged 57.6 percent of the vote in her six successful congressional elections.

Fundraising so far has been significant. The September 30 FEC reports find Rep. Beutler already raising $1.73 million for the cycle with $1.38 million cash-on-hand. Kent has also done well, especially for a challenger, raising $1.09 million with $837,000 in the bank. St. John (R) has also raised a respectable $334,000, and held just over $213,000 in her campaign account at the reporting period’s end.

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North Carolina Map Passes

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 8, 2021 –The North Carolina legislature passed a congressional redistricting map late last week featuring a new seat that pushes the state to a 14-member delegation, but court challenges are again inevitable.

Under North Carolina law, the governor, in this case Democrat Roy Cooper, has no veto power over redistricting. Therefore, when the map cleared both legislative chambers, the plan became law.

The Tar Heel State legislature and the courts have battled over redistricting for most of the previous decade, with the judiciary changing the legislature’s maps no fewer than three times during that 10-year period.

The last court iteration, in which the Democratic controlled state Supreme Court added two Democratic seats at the GOP’s expense, created safe districts for their party in Raleigh and Greensboro. The effect transformed the delegation’s partisan division to eight Republicans and five Democrats.

Under the legislature’s new 2021 version, the members returned to the previous GOP model for the Greensboro area, while largely keeping the Democratic draw for central Raleigh. Though political data is not yet available for the 14 new districts, estimates suggest that the new plan will yield 10 Republican seats and four Democratic districts, at least for the 2022 election cycle.

With a March 8, 2022 primary and candidate filing opening in about a month on Dec. 6, it will be difficult to move quickly through the court process to stop the map before officially beginning the election cycle.

The new map displaces several members and is another example of the map drawers changing the district numbers, thus making it more difficult to make comparisons. The members most negatively affected are Reps. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk), and Richard Hudson (R-Concord).

The Manning district currently covers all of Guilford County, including the cities of Greensboro and High Point, and moves west into Forsyth County to annex the city of Winston-Salem. The court’s 2020 draw was split four ways, giving Rep. Manning the choice of approximately four immediate districts in which she could run, all of which are Republican. Therefore, it appears at first glance without the aid of political data that she would have to choose among four bad options in order to attempt to continue her congressional career.

Rep. Foxx, who currently represents a western North Carolina 5th District that stretches from Virginia to South Carolina would now see her new 11th CD begin in the western mountains and stretch easterly along the Virginia border and south into the city of Greensboro. This may be a relatively Republican district, but the addition of Democratic Greensboro clearly changes the district’s complexion and takes Foxx into a region that she has not represented over her nine terms in Congress.

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Election Day Upsets and Surprises

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 4, 2021 — Now that Tuesday’s election numbers are becoming more available and final, we can explore the contests that proved to be upsets and ones providing us with some surprises. In most instances, the Republicans performed better in these races than expected.

The first obvious upset, though a mild one as we approached election day because most people understood that Republican Glenn Youngkin had a legitimate chance to score a victory over former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, is the Virginia statewide race. The biggest surprise was New Jersey Republican Jack Ciattarelli within one percentage point of defeating Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

With that background, let’s begin with our upsets:

• Georgia: Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D), attempting to regain his former position in the open seat 2021 race, has apparently failed to qualify for the runoff. Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore (D) placed first, with City Councilman Andre Dickens (D) running 612 votes ahead of Reed for second position with all of the precincts reporting.

Mail votes and ancillary ballots could still push Reed into a runoff with Moore, but it appears that Dickens has the inside track to nose the former mayor out of this race.

• Maine:• New Jersey: State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) has apparently lost his southern New Jersey seat to truck driver Edward Durr (R) who spent only about $5,000 on his campaign. Durr leads 52-48 percent, which should be enough for him to eventually claim victory.

• New York: Big Republican local election wins occurred in Suffolk and Nassau County on Long Island. GOP candidates won the Suffolk and Nassau County District Attorney’s offices, and defeated the Nassau County Executive. They also reclaimed the majority on the Suffolk County legislature for the first time since 2005.

• Texas: Continuing a GOP rebound among Hispanic voters in Texas, Republican John Lujan converted a 71 percent Hispanic district in southeast Bexar County (San Antonio). Lujan was a 51-49 percent winner in Texas House District 118.

• Virginia: Glenn Youngkin (R) defeated Terry McAuliffe (D), 51-48 percent. Winsome Sears (R) topped state Del. Hala Ayala (D), 51-49 percent. State Del. Jason Miyares (R) ousted Attorney General Mark Herring (D), 51-49 percent. Republicans have clinched or lead in 52 House of Delegates races, enough for them to re-claim the majority. Not only did Youngkin score an upset win, but he had obvious coattails.

There were several interesting surprises on election night, too:

• Florida: Miami area Democrats went to the polls to choose a special election nominee to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach) and the result yielded a photo finish. Recounts will be ordered and a long post-election process is expected before someone advances to the January 11th special general election.

At first take with supposedly all votes counted, businesswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick looks to have secured the party nomination by just 31 votes. A later count then put Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness on top by an even smaller 12-vote margin. Expect this one to be in the courts long before a Democratic nominee is finally settled upon.

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Youngkin Wins in Virginia;
New Jersey’s Races are Teetering;
Ohio Congressional Races & More

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 3, 2021 — Republican Glenn Youngkin claimed the Virginia governor’s race with his victory over former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), becoming the first Republican to win a Virginia statewide office since the 2009 election.

In New Jersey, Republican Jack Ciattarelli is fighting Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to a virtual tie, but outstanding ballots suggest the Democratic governor may barely hang on to win a second term. It was a surprisingly strong showing for Ciattarelli in such a heavily Democratic state. Though both houses of the New Jersey legislature will remain under Democratic control, Republicans appear to have added seats in both chambers.

While mail votes are still being tallied and other ballots can be received in Virginia until Friday, it appears Youngkin did exceed the 50 percent plateau with McAuliffe about two percentage points behind. The Youngkin victory helped pull his lieutenant governor Republican partner, Winsome Sears, over the top to claim the state’s second position.

The Virginia attorney general’s race features another Republican, state Delegate Jason Miyares, leading incumbent Mark Herring (D), who is running for a third term. This is the closest of the three races, so uncounted mail ballots and votes to be received after election day could make a difference. Some entities have projected Miyares a winner, and he is certainly in the better position, but the final outcome may not yet be conclusive.

Several other races are still close, but Republicans may have converted the six seats they need to re-claim the state House majority. In any event, the party gained seats.

Turnout was higher than expected in Virginia. More that 3.2 million ballots have been tabulated, meaning that more than 73 percent of the number of people who voted in the record setting 2020 election returned to cast their votes in the 2021 governor’s race. When comparing the 2017 gubernatorial election to the 2016 presidential, the return rate was 66 percent.

OHIO

In the US House, two new Ohio members-elect completed their special election victories with ease. In the vacant Cleveland-Akron seat that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge (D) represented, Democratic Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, as expected, easily won the congressional special general election with 79 percent of of the vote.

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