Author Archives: Jim Ellis

NEVADA REDISTRICTING UPDATE

Nevada 2021 redistricting map

Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed the Democratic legislators’ map into law, which is designed to keep the state’s 3D-1R delegation intact.

The 2020 election yielded very close re-election results for Reps. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) and Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas). Therefore, this map strengthen those two districts in Clark County, but at the expense of Rep. Dina Titus’ (D-Las Vegas) downtown 1st District. The strongest Democratic district, Rep. Horsford’s 4th CD, is only rated as a D+5 on partisan indexes.

Despite Nevada’s large population gain, Rep. Titus’ district needed to gain 73,332 residents, meaning her district had to undergo relative significant change.

All three Democratic seats are now in the low to mid-50s realm, meaning in strong Republican years, these districts could become competitive.

GEORGIA REDISTRICTING UPDATE

Georgia did not gain a seat in reapportionment despite significant growth in the Atlanta area. In the state’s major metroplex, the congressional districts fully contained within or touching the area counties gained almost 200,000 people dispersed within six districts. The rural CDs, particularly in the southern part of Georgia, however, all needed to gain individuals in order to meet the state population quota of 765,136 individuals per congressional district.

Rep. Sanford Bishop’s (D-Albany) 2nd District becomes somewhat more Republican, but this seat was the most under-populated congressional domain in the state, requiring an additional 92,108 residents to meet the state quota. Therefore, a significant change was necessary.

The big changes come in the Atlanta area, and this is where the Republican map drawers are making a move to take back one of their two lost seats. It appears the 6th District of two-term Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) will again become strongly Republican, with a major population shift also going into Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux’s 7th CD that will concede the district to her and the Democrats.

By changing the 6th District — because Rep. McBath is African American, and the move will undoubtedly trigger a civil rights lawsuit — eyebrows were raised. Under previous redistricting rulings, however, a district is not judged by the incumbent, but rather whether the controlling minority community elects its candidate of choice.

It is likely that the Georgia map changes with Republicans flipping the 6th District back into their column. The remaining Georgia incumbents will all receive winnable seats, so most of the state’s congressional political action will be centered upon the 6th District.

Under this new plan, the Georgia delegation is projected to become 9R-5D, but expect a major legal challenge.

Rep. Suozzi Announces for
New York Governor

Long Island US Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove)

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 1, 2021 — Turning down NYC Mayor-Elect Eric Adams’ offer of becoming one of the city’s deputy mayors, Long Island US Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) instead announced Monday that he is joining the fast-growing Democratic primary for governor.

Already in the statewide race is the new incumbent, Gov. Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Tish James, and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. On the Republican side, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is clearly the leading candidate for his party’s gubernatorial nomination, having already clinched the official New York Republican Party endorsement.

This is not the first time Suozzi has run for governor. In the 2006 Democratic primary, ill-fated, then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer crushed Suozzi, 82-18 percent.

The Suozzi strategy is to take advantage of a crowded Democratic field where the other participants are all campaigning to the left. Therefore, he is calling himself the “moderate, common sense Democrat.” In a plurality election, his strategy has a chance of being successful, but the bigger question may revolve around whether he will have adequate resources to effectively communicate his message to a statewide electorate in order to develop such a fractured winning coalition.

With Rep. Suozzi foregoing re-election, it creates an additional open Democratic US House seat, a number that has grown significantly in the past two weeks, and also potentially alters the New York redistricting process.

Suozzi was first elected to the House in 2016 and twice re-elected, but failed to reach 60 percent in any of his congressional campaigns. Prior to his service in Congress, Suozzi held the Nassau County Executive position for two terms but was defeated when trying for a third. Four years later, in 2013, trying to regain his lost position, Suozzi was again defeated, this time by a strong 59-41 percent margin. Before winning his countywide position, Suozzi was twice elected as mayor of his hometown of Glen Cove, NY.

Suozzi’s 3rd Congressional District sits in Long Island’s center-west sector, hugging the north shore. The four districts that are self-contained on Long Island are a combined 148,780 people short of meeting the per-district population quota of 776,971 individuals in each of the state’s 26 congressional districts.

Continue reading

The Incumbent Pairings

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 30, 2021 — At this point in the national redistricting process, six sets of incumbents have been paired together, mostly in nomination battles, while an additional five incumbent combinations have been averted.

Over half the states have either completed the district re-drawing process or are well down the road to finishing. Illinois leads the nation with two sets of incumbent pairings, one set for each party. An additional four states have single pairings. A total of three Republican primary pairings are on the board, two feature Democratic incumbents, and one, in North Carolina, is a potential pairing with a member from each party.

Retirements have largely averted several more pairings. Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Tom Reed (R-NY), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), and Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), not seeking re-election have likely prevented obvious pairings in their states.

Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), deciding to seek re-election in the new 1st Congressional District, has avoided a Republican primary pairing with her freshman GOP colleague, Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids).

Below, we review the individual pairings.


GA-7:

• Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) vs. Rep. Lucy McBath (D)
Candidate Filing: March 11
Primary: May 24
Runoff: July 26

The surprise pairing of the early cycle occurs in the Atlanta suburbs. The Republican map drawers changed Rep. McBath’s 6th District back into a seat that favors the GOP, and instead of running an uphill campaign in a general election, McBath immediately announced that she would launch a primary challenge to freshman Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in a politically marginal district that was made safely Democratic.

This will be one of the more interesting pairings. Rep. Bourdeaux represents most of the new 7th’s constituency, but Rep. McBath will likely be viewed as the stronger Democratic base candidate. Bourdeaux starts with an early edge, and with each candidate already approaching $2 million in their respective campaign accounts, this primary campaign will be an old fashioned political shoot out. The winner earns a virtual free ride in the general election.


IL-6:

• Rep. Sean Casten (D) vs. Rep. Marie Newman (D)
Candidate Filing: March 14
Primary: June 28

The second Democratic pairing is the result of the party’s map drawers creating a second Chicago Hispanic district. This led to freshman Rep. Marie Newman standing without her own district. Instead of challenging Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) in the original urban Hispanic seat, the district in which her La Grange residence was placed, she decided to instead oppose Rep. Sean Casten in the safely Democratic suburban 6th CD.

Though the seat carries Rep. Casten’s 6th, a bit more of the constituency belongs to Rep. Newman. The early resources favor Casten, as his $1 million in the bank is more than double Rep. Newman’s Sept. 30th filing deadline cash-on-hand total. This race will be one that turns sharply left, as both members identify with the party’s leftward faction. Rep. Casten is likely to attract more Chicago establishment support whereas Rep. Newman will get the bulk of leftward social issues coalition backing.

On paper, it appears that Rep. Casten would have at least a slight edge, but we can count on seeing a major campaign contest all the way to the June 28 primary.


IL-12:

• Rep. Mike Bost (R) vs. Rep. Mary Miller (R)
Candidate Filing: March 14
Primary: June 28

The second Land of Lincoln pairing features two Republican incumbents in the state’s southern sector. Typically, in a gerrymandered state the minority party inherits several very safe districts. Such is the case for the GOP in the new IL-12.

Most of Rep. Bost’s current 12th District constituency is in the new 12th, but the eastern part of a district that now encompasses all of the southern Illinois territory currently belongs to freshman Rep. Miller. The early financial edge also goes to Rep. Bost, but the two begin this race separated only by approximately $200,000.

Continue reading

PA-Senate: Republicans in Trouble

Former US Ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands — a Pennsylvania senate candidate to watch.

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 29, 2021 — The Keystone State of Pennsylvania, with an open Senate and governor’s race, will be a focal point of the 2022 election cycle, and last week the Republicans’ early problems grew worse.

The Pennsylvania GOP began this election cycle in a seemingly underdog position as they fought to hold the Senate seat from which two-term incumbent Pat Toomey (R) is retiring; now they are clearly playing from behind.

Iraq War veteran Sean Parnell (R) had former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and was leading the Republican primary in early polling. However, due to losing a child custody judgment rendered at the beginning of this week after a contentious trial in which his ex-wife had accused him of domestic abuse, Parnell withdrew from the Senate contest.

It’s a loss for his party, but Parnell wasn’t even the best of candidates. In his first bid for public office, running for the 17th Congressional District seat against Allegheny County area incumbent Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), now himself a Senate candidate, Parnell came close but lost 51-49 percent. Based upon a close defeat in a winnable district, he decided to make a statewide Senate run.

Two other primary opponents, former lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos and Army veteran, Trump campaign activist, and former congressional candidate Kathy Barnette, also lost their most recent political races. Therefore, the original three leading Republican candidates in either polling or fundraising hadn’t ever won a race and were falling well behind their Democratic counterparts.

The Democrats feature the overall early race leader, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. He commands first position in primary and general election polling and has raised way more campaign capital than all of his opponents, over $9.2 million through the Sept. 30 financial disclosure period.

John Fetterman, however, isn’t without his own flaws. In 2013, when he was mayor of Braddock, a borough southeast of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County and located on the Monongahela River, Fetterman pulled a loaded weapon on an unarmed African-American jogger after hearing gunshots fired in his neighborhood. The Fetterman campaign has already produced a short video explaining the incident in anticipation of this becoming an issue in his 2022 statewide effort.

Rep. Lamb is running second to Lt. Gov. Fetterman in polling and dollars raised, almost $7 million behind his chief Democratic rival. The latest poll, from the Civiqs organization (Oct. 31-Nov. 1; 929 likely Pennsylvania Democratic primary voters, online) found Fetterman way ahead of Rep. Lamb, 52-12 percent, with other announced and possible candidates, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, and potential contender Sharif Street, a state senator and son of former Philadelphia Mayor John Street, all polling at five percent or less.

Continue reading

ARKANSAS REDISTRICTING

The legislature passed a congressional map that Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) allowed to become law without his signature. The map improves Rep. French Hill’s (R-Little Rock) 2nd District, analyzing from his Republican perspective, while keeping the three other seats solidly in the GOP column.

Rep. Bruce Westerman’s (R-Hot Springs) 4th District needed to gain the largest number of people, 66,283, while Rep. Steve Womack’s (R-Rogers/Fayetteville) had to release the most: 85,266 individuals.

Arkansas will return a 4R-0D map that should last most of the decade.

ALABAMA REDISTRICTING

In early November, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed the legislation containing the new congressional map that will leave the state’s seven districts relatively intact.

The biggest adjustment came in Rep. Terri Sewell’s (D-Birmingham) district that needed an influx of 53,143 residents to reach the state’s per district population quota of 717,754 individuals. Rep. Barry Moore’s (R-Enterprise/Dothan) seat needed an additional 24,288 people to reach population equivalency. The most over-populated CD’s were Reps. Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) 5th District that was forced to shed 43,348 residents, and Gary Palmer’s (R-Hoover) Shelby County anchored seat that released 22,956 people to other districts.

The Alabama map will return a strengthened 6R-1D delegation to the House and has a good chance to remain that way for the ensuing decade.