Monthly Archives: March 2022

Redistricting News – Ohio; Florida

By Jim Ellis

March 31, 2022 — Two long awaited key redistricting situations became clearer Tuesday, as the important electoral states of Ohio and Florida took action. While the Ohio congressional plan may finally be set for this election, the Sunshine State map, while still not close to finalization, is trending toward resolution.

Ohio

Click on map or here to go to: Interactive Ohio Congressional Redistricting map.

The state of Ohio has had the rockiest redistricting path this year, as the legislature and state Supreme Court have been passing and rejecting congressional and state legislative district maps since early in the year.

Last week, the high court, from which people were waiting for a new decision over the congressional map before them for several weeks, surprised the Democratic plaintiffs by informing them that they would have to file a new lawsuit. The justices explained that they had already issued a final ruling on the first map, hence the process would have to begin again with this second installment.

It now appears that the legislature-passed congressional map currently before the court will be used for the 2022 election. The briefing schedule was set for the new lawsuit, but the submission deadline is two months beyond the state’s May 3 primary. Therefore, the new congressional map looks to remain in place for 2022.

The new map would create a swing open 13th District south and east of Cleveland that would likely have been where Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) would have run for re-election had he stayed in the House. On this map, the other member not seeking re-election, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River), would have been paired with GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) in a new strongly Republican 7th District that encompasses the western Cleveland suburbs.

The two incumbents in the most competitive situations are Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) who both will face electorates favoring Democrats.

The lawsuit against the congressional map could well move forward during the latter part of this year, but any changes resulting from related legal action would likely mean a new draw for the 2024 election. After a string of favorable congressional map court rulings for Democrats, the lack of further judicial action in Ohio looks to benefit the Republicans, at least for the short term.

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A Cuomo Comeback?

By Jim Ellis

Resigned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)

March 30, 2022 — Resigned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has rather astonishingly not yet ruled out trying to regain his position in this election, and a new Siena College Research Institute poll (March 20-24; 804 registered New York voters, 309 Democratic primary voters) suggests that he might be a competitive contender should he ultimately enter the race.

While it is still unlikely that Cuomo will return, although he has already financed a wave of “rehabilitation” ads designed to improve his damaged image, the Siena numbers do reveal some weaknesses within the Democratic establishment. This means the general election might become interesting.

One of the Siena poll questions asked about Cuomo’s potential status as an independent candidate for the November election. With an eventual Republican nominee, likely US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island), presumably being more competitive than a typical New York statewide GOP candidate in this coming general election, a strong independent or minor party contender could become a significant factor in the final outcome and may even have a narrow victory path.

If the resigned governor is to make a move, he is running out of time to file in a partisan primary. Since he is not the endorsed New York Democratic Party candidate, Gov. Kathy Hochul is, he could obtain a ballot position only through submitting 15,000 valid registered voter signatures on or before the April 7 candidate filing deadline. If he were to attempt ballot access as an Independent, that related deadline does not expire until May 31.

While the base Democratic numbers are still strong for President Biden and Gov. Hochul, base Republicans are equivalently fervent against them, but this group is less than half the former’s size. More problematic for the Democratic incumbents and candidates, however, are the non-affiliated voter results, which are clearly trending away.

According to the Siena figures, Gov. Hochul already has an upside-down job approval rating of 42:53 percent within the electorate as a whole, but a positive 63:33 percent ratio among Democrats. She records only a 19:65 percent favorably index from Republicans and a more troubling 31:40 percent negative ratio with the non-affiliated and minor party voter segment.

The most recent published voter registration figures, those dated Feb. 21, 2022 from the New York State Board of Elections, find that 12,982,819 individuals are registered to vote, 49.8 percent of who identify as Democrats. Republicans account for only 21.9 percent of the overall electorate, and added with the 1.2 percent who register in the Conservative party, the clear right-of-center percentage expands to 23.1 percent. Still, this combined figure is less than half of the Democratic number.

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Convicted Rep. Fortenberry to Resign

By Jim Ellis

Convicted Nebraska US Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln)

March 29, 2022 — A Los Angeles, Calif. jury convicted Nebraska US Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln) of three felony counts late last week, two involving campaign finance. The jury ruled he concealed illegal campaign funds received from a foreign national, and lied to federal investigators.

The congressman announced over the weekend that he will resign from the House on March 31, answering the call of both parties’ leadership to do so.

Rep. Fortenberry further says he will appeal the verdict and wrote in his official open resignation letter that “due to the difficulties of my current circumstances, I can no longer serve you (meaning his constituents) effectively.”

Since Nebraska’s candidate filing has closed and contenders certified, it is unclear at this time whether the congressman’s name can be removed from the primary ballot. The only ballot-related deadline that has not passed in relation to the May 10 primary is the period before April 4 when county clerks can make “corrections” to the ballot.

State Sen. Mike Flood (R-Norfolk) is the leading GOP candidate in Fortenberry’s absence. Retired Air Force officer John Glen Weaver, teacher Thireena Yuki, and welder Curtis Huffman round out the Republican congressional field. The consensus Democratic candidate is state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks (D-Lincoln).

Now that Rep. Fortenberry is resigning, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) will call a special election to fill the balance of the term. Under Nebraska law, since the seat will open before Aug. 1 of the even-numbered year, the special election must be scheduled within 90 days of the official date of vacancy. In this case, the vote must be held on or before June 28.

There will be no primary special election under Nebraska procedure. Nominations will come from the qualified political parties, handled through the 1st Congressional District committees of the various entities. A single-party candidate must be chosen and ballot qualified no later than 65 days before the scheduled election. Qualification refers to meeting the constitutional candidate requirements, filing the proper signature petitions, and paying relevant fees.

It is presumed the Republican and Democratic committees will turn to their leading candidates in state Sens. Flood and Brooks for the two major party nominations, but they don’t necessarily have to pursue such a direction because the special election’s candidate deadline will occur before the regular primary election. It would make little sense, however, for the parties to nominate someone other than their leading contenders, because the new individual(s) would not be able to run in the general election since the regular candidate filing period has closed.

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Rep. Vela to Resign; Another Special?

Texas Congressional Redistricting Map (click here or on map to see larger, interactive version)

By Jim Ellis

March 28, 2022 — If the upcoming Alaska special election isn’t complex enough, with the top-four jungle primary feature complete with Ranked Choice Voting that will be used to replace the late at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), the developing situation in Texas may be even more confusing.

A year ago March, five-term South Texas Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) announced that he would not seek re-election in 2022, becoming one of the first sitting incumbents to enter into lame duck status. Late last week Vela made public his intention to resign in the “next few weeks” in order to accept a position with the Akin Gump law firm.

Texas election law states that a vacancy in office must be filled at the next regular election, or earlier if the governor rules that an emergency exists. In a similar situation before the regular 2018 election, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called an emergency special election to immediately replace resigned GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold. Current Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) won his initial election as a result.

In the current political climate, with the country facing record inflation, sky-high energy prices, a border crisis, oil and gas production limitations as a matter of policy, and a hostile invasion in eastern Europe not seen since the days of Adolph Hitler in the pre-World War II period, the governor could easily claim that enough issues need addressing by a full Texas delegation. Therefore, he could justify calling an immediate special election.

If so, the situation becomes interesting. The winner of Rep. Vela’s 34th District open Democratic primary on March 1 was sitting 15th District Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen). He is seeking re-election in the 34th with Rep. Vela’s endorsement instead of in his original district that is trending more Republican. Therefore, if a special election is held prior to the regular election, Rep. Gonzalez would have to resign his 15th CD seat upon winning the subsequent election, thus creating another short-term vacancy.

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Redistricting-Forced
Contested Pairings

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2022 — Redistricting has largely been responsible for six sets of congressional pairings — that is where two incumbents are forced to compete against each other in one new district. Each party sees three intra-party pairings, with the first being decided in West Virginia on May 10.

New polling was released in the Mountain State contest, which features Reps. David McKinley (R-Wheeling) and Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) battling in a new northern 2nd District. West Virginia lost its third district in national reapportionment, and even though the GOP controls the redistricting pen, the party obviously had to absorb the lost seat since all three current House members are Republicans.

Rep. Mooney, being in the middle district of the original three, always the least advantageous geographical position, had his district split between the northern and southern seat. All but one percent of Rep. McKinley’s current 1st District is contained in new District 2, while just 49 percent of Rep. Mooney’s current 2nd carries over to the new 2nd. All of Rep. Carol Miller’s (R-Huntington) current 3rd District is fully contained within the new 1st as well as 51 percent of Rep. Mooney’s current WV-2.

Two early 2022 surveys, in January from Public Opinion Strategies and February from WPA Intelligence, found similar leads of 45-32 percent and 43-28 percent for Rep. Mooney. This week, however, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce released their North Star Opinion Research survey (March 13-15; 400 WV-2 likely voters) and their results found Rep. McKinley rebounding to record a 38-33 percent edge. With polling showing a tightening of the race, we can expect a close finish in what should be regarded as a toss-up campaign.

Georgia

The Georgia Democrat pairing between Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) and Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) in the new Atlanta suburban 7th CD looks to be leaning toward the latter woman even though she sees a very low constituent carryover factor from her current 6th District.

This race will likely be decided on May 24, but since Georgia is a runoff state, there is always the mathematical possibility that the minor candidates could force a secondary election because their combined vote could be enough to keep both major contenders from reaching the 50 percent plateau.

An early January Data for Progress survey found Rep. McBath holding a nine point lead, 40-31 percent, despite the fact that only 12 percent of the new 7th comes from Rep. McBath’s 6th, as compared to 57 percent of the new population base who currently live in Rep. Bourdeaux’s district. On the other hand, McBath is much stronger with the regional Democratic base voter than is Bourdeaux.

Michigan

Two other paired contests are even tighter. Though the Michigan Democratic pairing between Reps. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) and Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) won’t be decided until the Aug. 2 Democratic primary, two recently released surveys already detect a dead heat.

Lake Research Partners released data from their Feb. 15-20 survey that found the two Democratic members tied with 36 percent support apiece. Earlier in the month, Target Insyght found an almost identical conclusion from their ballot test question, with Reps. Stevens and Levin tied at 41 percent. In January, Impact Research released their study that posted Rep. Stevens to a seven-point advantage, 42-35 percent.

In this situation, Rep. Stevens sees a 45 percent carryover factor from her current 11th District, while Rep. Levin will have only 25 percent of his current 9th District constituency in the new 11th.

In Congressman Levin’s favor, however, is home base status. The Bloomfield Township region, which provided the base vote for his father, Sander Levin, whose career in the House lasted 36 years, and his uncle, the late Sen. Carl Levin who served his own 36 years in Congress, is fully intact within the new 11th. Conversely, Stevens’ home precincts within the Rochester Hills area are not included in the new 11th. This likely gives Levin the advantage of having the more driven supporters, which matters greatly in a lower turnout primary election.

Illinois

Turning to Illinois, in a race that will be settled in the June 28 primary, Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and freshman Marie Newman (D-La Grange) also appear locked in a tight battle for political survival in the western Chicago suburbs. Unlike all the other paired districts that are safe for the winning paired member, the IL-6 CD could become a general election battleground.

In the new 6th, Rep. Newman sees more of her constituents comprising the new district, as just over 41 percent of her current 3rd District voters will be present in the new 6th. This number compares favorably to Rep. Casten’s constituent carryover factor of just 23.5 percent coming from the current 6th. Like in the aforementioned Michigan pairing, one member’s home base is within the district, in this case Casten’s, while the other, Newman’s La Grange region, is not.

Also, as in two of the other pairings, we see an early cycle even split between the two candidates. According to a Victoria Research Feb. 10-15 survey, the two House members were tied at 37 percent apiece.

No polling data is available for the other two pairings — the Illinois Republican battle between Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and Mary Miller (R-Oakland) in the new 15th CD, and Michigan Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) in their state’s new District 4.

Davis has the advantage with the establishment Republicans while Rep. Miller, with former President Trump’s endorsement, is the ideological base vote favorite.

Despite running more than $200,000 in ads for the upcoming primary, Michigan Rep. Upton still says he has not yet committed to running again. He has until the April 19 candidate filing deadline to make a final decision. Upton has the geographical advantage in the new 4th (64 percent carryover to 25 percent), but Huizenga has the Trump endorsement and is stronger with the ideological base.


House redistribution statistics can be found on the Daily Kos Elections website.