Monthly Archives: December 2021

Post Redistricting:
Competitive Seats, Part II

Nevada redistricting map

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 10, 2021 — Continuing our redistricting report about the 20 multi-congressional district states that have completed the re-drawing process, today, we look at the domains from Montana through West Virginia.


Montana:

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission for the first time had a congressional map to draw. The state rose from at-large status to gaining a new district in reapportionment due to strong population growth. Montana is the first multi-district state to ever fall into at-large status, as it did in the 1990 census, and then regain a second district.

Though more Democratic maps were filed for commission consideration, the main Republican offered map was adopted. One of the Democratic commissioners voted for the plan, which allowed the GOP version to prevail. Still, all of the maps created an east and west seat, with the new western seat, labeled District 1, being the more competitive.

At-large Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) will run in the safely Republican eastern District 2, while former congressman and ex-US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appears to be the early leader in the western district both in the Republican primary and general election. While relatively competitive, the 1st District will clearly nominate a Republican who will be the general election favorite.


Nebraska:

The unicameral legislature and Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) enacted a new congressional map that should again deliver a 3R-0D delegation. Rep. Don Bacon’s (R-Papillion/Omaha) marginal 2nd District – Joe Biden carried the district by more than 22,000 votes – is strengthened for the incumbent, but it still remains a competitive congressional domain.


Nevada:

The Democratic legislature and Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) enacted a map that is designed to produce a 3D-1R map but, in attempting to maximize the Democratic stake, possibly all three of the party’s intended seats now fall into the potentially competitive realm.

In 2020, Clark County hosted two of the 53 districts nationally where the winning candidate scored less than 52 percent. In 3rd District Rep. Susie Lee’s (D-Las Vegas) case, her victory percentage was less than 49 percent. Fourth District incumbent Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) fared only slightly better at 50.7 percent. In order to strengthen these two districts, a large number of Democrats had to be taken from the previously safe seat of 1st District Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas).

The end result is three Democratic seats in the lower 50s. In a Republican year, and considering the GOP is beginning to score better with Hispanics who comprise more than 31 percent of the Clark County population, all three seats could conceivably host competitive challenge campaigns. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City), the lone Republican incumbent in the Nevada delegation, gets a safe northern state seat.


North Carolina:

The courts have been playing ping pong with the North Carolina map this week. A three-judge panel first issued a stay order on the Tar Heel State’s Dec. 17 candidate filing deadline pertaining to a redistricting lawsuit before the court. A day later, the full 15-member state Appellate Court overturned the panel’s ruling, and restored the original filing deadline. Just this week, the state Supreme Court quickly reinstated the candidate filing stay and ordered the March 8 primary postponed until May 17.

The North Carolina map is the national Republicans’ best to date. If it survives the legal challenge, the GOP could net as many as three seats in the delegation. It appears that five seats will be open, with Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) and David Price (D-Chapel Hill) retiring, Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) running for Senate, and with two more seats beign created through reapportionment and the map-drawing process.

Under the enacted map, Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) and Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) are paired in a new 11th District, which would heavily favor the GOP nominee.


Ohio:

The legislature and Gov. Mike DeWine (R) recently approved a new congressional map that may net the Republicans a one-seat gain, or could conceivably yield the Democrats a similar outcome. Three of the state’s 15 new districts are highly competitive — Ohio lost one seat in reapportionment — with two currently in Democratic hands and one under GOP control.

Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), and the open 13th District seat of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren), now located on the west side of Cleveland, are all tightly constructed partisan districts. In the remaining seats, Republicans hold a significant 10-2 advantage. Retiring Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s (R-Rocky River) 16th District has effectively been collapsed.


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Post Redistricting:
Competitive Seats, Part I

Click on interactive map above to see Illinois Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 9, 2021 — Redistricting has now been completed in 20 multi-congressional district states, so this is a good time to examine the races viewed as competitive in the places with new district boundaries. Today, we look at domains from Alabama through Massachusetts. Part II will include the second half of the alphabet.


Alabama:

The Alabama legislature and Gov. Kay Ivey (R) completed their work and delivered a plan similar to the 6R-1D map that is currently in place. At one point, it appeared Alabama would lose a congressional seat, but such proved not the case. Therefore, redistricting became relatively simple in a state where Republicans dominate politically.

Rep. Terri Sewell’s (D-Birmingham) Voting Rights seat was the most under-populated CD needing 53,143 individuals to meet Alabama’s 717,754 per district resident quota. Such a people swing was easily completed because Reps. Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) 5th District and Gary Palmer’s (R-Hoover) 6th CD were over-populated.


Arkansas:

The state’s new four-district congressional plan easily passed the Republican legislature, but was enacted without Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) signature. The main change was making Rep. French Hill’s (R-Little Rock) 2nd District more Republican. The map is likely to continue performing favorably for all four Republican incumbents.


Colorado:

The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission was the first entity to complete the new maps, and with the state Supreme Court giving final approval in late October, it is unlikely that we will see lawsuits being filed. The map gives all seven current incumbents a place to run with only Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-Arvada) 7th District becoming substantially more competitive. Perlmutter will still be the clear favorite to win again next November, but his current 60-37 percent Biden district is gone.

The major difference for the coming decade is the addition of a new 8th District, and the commission members decided to make this seat competitive. Sitting north and northeast of Denver and encompassing the cities of Thornton, Westminster, and Greeley, this new district gives the Democrats only a slight one-point advantage. In 2022, this seat will certainly be in play for both parties.


Georgia:

The legislature and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) recently approved a new congressional map that may net the Republicans a gain of one seat. The big difference comes in the northern Atlanta suburbs.

Returning Rep. Lucy McBath’s (D-Marietta) 6th District to a Republican domain sees her declaring for re-election in the adjacent 7th District where she will face freshman Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) in a primary battle. Also in the race is state Rep. Donna McLeod (D-Lawrenceville) who says she is the only candidate who actually lives in the district.

The new 7th contains more of Rep. Bourdeaux’s territory, but McBath likely has the stronger ideological base. This will be a tight and hard-fought nomination contest, but the winner earns a safe Democratic district for the general election.


Idaho:

The Gem State was the nation’s second fastest-growing entity in the previous decade, but they did not gain a third congressional seat. The map drawers only needed to swap 35,338 individuals from Rep. Russ Fulcher’s (R-Meridian) 1st District to Rep. Mike Simpson’s (R-Idaho Falls) 2nd CD in order to meet the state’s huge 919,513 per district population quota, the largest in the nation.

Should the Idaho growth trend continue in its current pattern, expect the state to earn a third district in the 2030 reapportionment. This map will remain safely 2R-0D.


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Rep. Devin Nunes to Resign

By Jim Ellis

Ten-term US Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)

Dec. 8, 2021 — Ten-term US Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) will leave Congress at the end of this year according to an announcement made late Monday.

Rep. Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and the man who appeared to have the inside track to become chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee if the Republicans re-gain the chamber majority next year, will become CEO of the Trump Media & Technology Group that former President Donald Trump is launching.

While the congressman, who was first elected in 2002 to his Central Valley California seat, will leave the legislative scene, he certainly will still be very active in politics as he attempts to position a new social media platform that will give right of center individuals a greater voice in the public issues discussion arena.

“The time has come to reopen the Internet and allow for the free flow of ideas and expression without censorship,” Nunes was quoted as reported in the New York Post. “The United States of America made the dream of the Internet a reality and it will be an American company that restores the dream. I’m humbled and honored President Trump has asked me to lead the mission and the world-class team that will deliver on this promise,” Nunes concluded.

Rep. Nunes’ departure creates major change in the Central Valley’s politics. His current 22nd District is one of the just seven California districts that Trump carried in the 2020 presidential election campaign.

One would think that a special election would be called with a year remaining on the term, but in a similarly timed situation in 2020, when then-Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) resigned in January, such was not the case. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), taking advantage of a quirk in California election law, was able to leave Hunter’s 50th District – like the Nunes seat, a safe Republican domain – vacant for the balance of the entire year.

Considering that the likely special election winner in the Nunes Fresno County-anchored district would be a Republican, and cognizant of the ongoing redistricting process, it is entirely possible that Newsom will again let the seat remain vacant for all of 2022.

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Perdue to Challenge Kemp in Georgia

By Jim Ellis

Former US Sen. David Perdue (R-GA)

Dec. 7, 2021 — Something that has been rumored about and speculated upon for weeks has finally come to fruition. Defeated Sen. David Perdue has formally announced that he will challenge Gov. Brian Kemp in next year’s Republican primary.

The serious primary challenge is part of the aftermath from the 2020 election controversy where Gov. Kemp’s perceived handling of the voter fraud complaints and challenges left a significant portion of the Republican base expressing discontent. Former President Donald Trump has many times attacked Kemp on the subject and is one of the key people behind Perdue’s fledgling gubernatorial candidacy. Trump is expected to play a large role in the primary.

Georgia Gov Brian Kemp

Sen. Perdue lost his seat in the 2020 post-general runoff to Jon Ossoff (D) by a 50.6 – 49.4 percent count (54,944 votes of a total turnout of 4.48 million) after placing first in the general election by almost two full percentage points. Georgia has a majority victory rule, however, that requires all candidates to win their elections with more than 50 percent. In the November vote, Sen. Perdue fell just one-quarter percent short of securing outright victory.

One of the reasons he lost is the state’s strongest Republican counties didn’t perform in the runoff as strongly as did the best Democratic counties. Many Republicans, it is believed, did not return for the runoff because they listened to some of the key Trump leaders, including the former president himself, argue that the Georgia election system is “rigged.”

Gov. Kemp was elected in 2018, winning the primary largely because he positioned himself far to the right, thus successfully appealing to the ardent Trump Republican voter. After moderating for the general election campaign, Kemp defeated former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) by just 54,723 votes, an almost identical number to the difference between the Ossoff-Perdue election two years later. She, like Trump, challenged the election results.

The relationship between Gov. Kemp and Trump first became strained when the former disregarded the latter’s endorsed candidate for the US Senate appointment: then-Rep. Doug Collins who was in the running to replace resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson. The three-term senator, former House member and state legislative leader, was forced to leave office for health reasons, thus allowing the governor to appoint an interim successor.

Instead of Collins, Gov. Kemp chose billionaire businesswoman Kelly Loeffler, who would go onto lose her special election runoff campaign to current Sen. Raphael Warnock (D).

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