Category Archives: House

Florida Redistricting: The Latest

Jan. 14, 2016 — The Florida court-ordered redistricting saga continues with new developments regularly changing the political atmospherics. Back in early July, the Florida state Supreme Court struck down eight of the state’s congressional districts – four Republican-held; four Democratic – for reasons of “partisan gerrymandering.”

The map has been changed, enacted, and now fully reported. Since the exact boundaries have found their way into the public domain, we can now see that virtually the entire state has been affected. Mandating boundary alterations in eight districts translated into changing 24 of the state’s 27 CDs. The only three to remain intact are a trio of Republican seats: FL-1 (Rep. Jeff Miller-Pensacola; northwest Florida Panhandle); FL-8 (Rep. Bill Posey; Cape Canaveral to Vero Beach); and FL-19 (Rep. Curt Clawson; Ft. Myers-Cape Coral to Marco Island).

One, Rep. Patrick Murphy’s (D-Jupiter) 18th District (Ft. Pierce to West Palm Beach), saw less than a one percent change. The two districts altered the most are Rep. Corrine Brown’s (D-Jacksonville) 5th District and GOP Rep. Dan Webster’s 10th CD (Orlando).

The Brown seat that formerly stretched from Jacksonville to Orlando, touching Gainesville and Sanford along the way, now encompasses territory from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. It is still heavily African American, but the original region has been divided over six districts. The largest portion of the 2011-drawn seat, a 40.1 percent population segment, is actually in Orlando. Her Jacksonville anchor maintains just 38.2 percent of the former FL-5 constituency.

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Retirements 2016: House Changes?

Jan. 12, 2016 — Just before Christmas, and including three more such announcements that occurred last week, five House members made public their intention not to seek re-election in the fall. The sudden jump in the number of congressmen choosing either to retire from politics or run for a different office now makes 2016 an average election cycle when examining the vacancy rate.

Representatives Richard Hanna (R-NY-22), Robert Hurt (R-VA-5), Jim McDermott (D-WA-7), Steve Israel (D-NY-3), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-3) all making their political plans known in the last three weeks creates a total of 36 open seat elections for the coming year (21R-15D); an average number based upon 21st Century electoral trends, and a return to normalcy. The last two election cycles have yielded an unusually large open seat numbers: 62 in 2012, and 48 in 2014.

Interestingly, heavy competition appears to be building in only a small number of these incumbent-less US House campaigns. Based upon our internal calculations, only three of the 36 open seats are in the pure toss-up category, those of representatives Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1), Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) and John Kline (R-MN-2). Another six, three for each party, can be considered in the “Lean” category. This means, at our early point in the campaign cycle, that only nine open districts, or one-quarter of the total number, are not definitively headed toward one party camp or the other.

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Yet Another Retirement;
Virginia Update

Jan. 11, 2016 — Rounding out the week is our third House retirement announcement, this time from Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Coweta County), a 12-year congressional veteran. The congressman will serve the remainder of this term and then potentially begin a campaign for the open governor’s position in 2018. Incumbent Nathan Deal (R) will be ineligible to seek a third term that year.

Westmoreland, who is in no political danger within the confines of the 3rd District and was unopposed in the last election, said it would not be fair to his current constituency to run for another office while ostensibly representing them in Washington.

Georgia’s 3rd District is located southwest of Atlanta, stretching from the Alabama border to the northeast almost directly into The ATL’s dominant outer suburban ring. The district’s largest population centers are LaGrange, Carrollton, and Griffin, along with the Pine Mountain region. It is a heavily Republican seat, as evidenced from Mitt Romney obtaining 66 percent voter support in the 2012 presidential contest. This, and the fact that few Democrats hold any office in the region, makes it clear that the Republican nomination contest will determine Westmoreland’s successor.

The Georgia state primary is scheduled for May 24, with the all-but-certain run-off slated for July 26. We can expect a large field of Republican candidates. Rep. Westmoreland’s retirement means that 36 seats will be open in the 2016 election cycle, 21 currently in Republican hands.

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Another Democrat Retirement;
New Nevada Senate Polling

Jan. 7, 2016 — Former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel (D-NY-3) announced that he will not seek a ninth term from his Long Island congressional district yesterday, bringing the total 2016 open seat number to 35, 15 of which are Democrat-held.

New York’s 3rd District changed significantly in the 2011 redistricting plan, as did GOP Rep. Peter King’s 2nd District that adjoins it to the south. Both seats were made surprisingly more competitive when compared to their previous districts. Israel’s district, formerly the 2nd, was made more Republican. King’s CD, previously labeled District 3, became more Democratic. Both incumbents won two re-elections under the new boundaries, but the prevailing political wisdom suggested that both seats could flip to the opposite party in an open seat scenario. Since Israel will not be on the ballot here this November, Republicans will likely make a move to covert the district.

In 2012, President Obama carried the new 3rd District, but only with a 51-48 percent spread. Rep. Israel won re-election in 2014 with a margin of 53-44 percent against a candidate, Republican Grant Lally, who spent less than $200,000 on his campaign effort. Two years earlier, versus similar opposition, Israel claimed a 51-37 percent win.

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Rep. McDermott to Retire;
Re-Setting the Democrats

Jan. 6, 2016 — Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle), who would turn 80 years of age at the beginning of the next Congress, announced yesterday that he will not seek a 15th term later this year. McDermott becomes the 34th House member not to run for re-election, and the 14th Democrat to voluntarily end his or her service as a federal Representative. Fourteen of the retiring members are instead running for the Senate.

The congressman leaves the downtown Seattle 7th district — which contains most of Seattle city proper along with the Vashon Island community sitting in the Puget Sound — that will assuredly elect a Democrat in his place. President Obama scored a huge 79 percent victory here in 2012, and the 7th proves itself to be one of the nation’s most liberal districts.

We can expect a very crowded Aug. 2 Democratic primary, one featuring a large number of elected officials. With no run-off system in Washington, the winning candidate will be able to claim the party nomination, which is tantamount to victory in November, with a low number of votes.

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