Category Archives: House

Two More Maps Advance

Georgia Congressional redistricting map

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 23, 2021 — The late redistricting season continues to move along at a brisk pace, and two more states are poised to enact new congressional plans this week.

The Georgia state House, after the state Senate passed the proposed congressional map on Friday, was expected to vote on the legislation yesterday and send it to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) for final approval. The Oklahoma legislature, late last week, passed its congressional and state legislative maps in special session and sent them to Gov. Kevin Stitt (R). He is expected to sign the plans into law.

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.

Oklahoma was both a long way from gaining and losing a seat, so the state remains constant with five congressional districts, now three of which come into Oklahoma County, the entity housing the state’s largest metropolis, Oklahoma City.

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North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s Retirement Leaves a Competitive 2nd

North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson)

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 22, 2021 — As was suggested earlier in the week, 10-term North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) announced late last week that he will not seek re-election next year. He leaves a new 2nd District – his seat had been numbered NC-1 throughout his career – that will be more competitive in 2022.

Rep. Butterfield attacked the Republican-passed redistricting plan as a gerrymander on his way out and says the draw hurts African Americans in his district. He says that largely because an African American section of Pitt County was removed from the district, along with a small conservative county, and replaced with three larger and decidedly more Republican localities along the Virginia border.

North Carolina gained a seat in reapportionment, but the Butterfield seat was the only current Tar Heel State CD that needed to gain residents. The current 1st District was 58,205 individuals short of the state’s new population quota of 745,671 individuals per CD, so the map drawers had no choice but to add people. Virtually all of the surrounding counties are Republican.

The new 2nd District is certainly more competitive. While President Biden carried the current 1st District with a 54-45 percent margin, on par with Hillary Clinton’s 55-44 percent spread in 2016, the new 2nd District would have given Biden only a 51-48 percent vote split.

Though the new 2nd will be more competitive, the current 1st District was beginning to show signs of political change. This somewhat dispels Rep. Butterfield’s gerrymandering argument. While the previous eight elections delivered an average vote of 72.6 percent for Butterfield, his 2020 victory margin dropped to 54-46 percent opposite accountant and political activist Sandy Smith (R).

Though the state Supreme Court changed the North Carolina map for the 2020 election and basically awarded the Democrats two of the Republicans’ seats, the 1st was left largely unchanged. This suggests that the electorate could be transforming naturally, thus alternative reasons exist for the district becoming more conservative than simply altering the district lines.

We can expect to see competitive primaries in both parties, and things will quickly unfold now that the seat is open. Prior to the retirement announcement, Henderson City Councilman Jason Spriggs had announced a Democratic primary challenge to Rep. Butterfield but he was not rated as a serious challenge to the congressman.

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Ohio Redistricting Set to Pass

WBNS TV – Channel 10 – Columbus

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 19, 2021 — The Ohio legislature has sent the new congressional and state legislative maps to Gov. Mike DeWine (R) for his approval. Ohio loses one seat in reapportionment.

As expected, the new map radically changes the seats that outgoing members Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) currently hold. Rep. Ryan, running for the Senate, sees his eastern Ohio 13th District collapsed, with a sizable chunk of Akron remaining in the seat and the remainder going to Rep. Bob Gibbs’ (R-Lakeville) 7th District.

Instead of moving east, as under the current map, the new 13th moves to the west, annexing Medina County and the western part of the Cleveland metro area in Cuyahoga County. Much of this territory comes from the retiring Rep. Gonzalez’s current 16th District, a seat whose territory gets absorbed in several neighboring CDs.

At first glance, the map looks to break 12R-3D, meaning Democrats would take the seat loss in typical election years. Three of the districts, however, two of which Democrats now hold, would become highly competitive.

The members with the most competitive districts would again be Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) in the 1st District, in addition to Marcy Kaptur’s (D-Toledo) 9th CD, and the open 13th District.

The safest members are Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati), though he loses a significant part of his anchor city, Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus), Jim Jordan (R-Urbana), Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville), Warren Davidson (R-Troy), Shontel Brown (D-Cleveland), and Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville).

Reps. Mike Turner (R-Dayton), David Joyce (R-Russell Township, and Mike Carey (R-Columbus) all would get reliable Republican districts, but not overwhelmingly so. Turner’s composite improves his marginal district a net three points in his party’s favor. Rep. Joyce sees his partisan complexion remaining at about a 10-point positive district for him when comparing the composite average to the 2020 presidential results.

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California Rep. Jackie Speier to Retire

California Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough/San Mateo)

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 18, 2021 — The second congressional retirement of the week was announced Tuesday as veteran California Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough/San Mateo), following Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy’s similar statement Monday, said in a video to her constituents that she will not seek an eighth full term in the House next year.

Speier has a long career in politics that began well before her first election to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in 1980. Two years prior, Speier, as a staff member for then-US Rep. Leo Ryan (D-CA), was shot five times on a remote airport runway in Guyana exactly 43 years ago today during the infamous Jim Jones mass murder-suicides of his so-called religious followers. (See this brief article as Speier recounted that day at a National Archives lecture.)

A total of 918 people died during the mass killing, including Rep. Ryan who was on a mission to investigate reports of criminal activity in the commune. Jones had run what was described as a church in the congressman’s district and most of his followers were from the northern California region. Speier, left for dead after being attacked and shot, lay for a reported 22 hours before being rescued and treated.

She obviously recovered from her wounds and was successful in her first run for public office. Six years later, she won a state Assembly seat, and then captured the area state Senate seat before winning a special election to the US House in 2008 after then-Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) passed away.

The 14th District contains over 85 percent of San Mateo County, and a portion of south San Francisco, adjacent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 12th District. The seat is safely Democratic, voting in a 78-21 percent clip for President Biden in 2020, and a similar 77-18 percent spread for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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North Carolina’s Rep. Cawthorn Switching Districts in 2022

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 15, 2021 — With the newly enacted North Carolina congressional map being vetted and analyzed, candidates for the various districts are beginning to come forth. One surprising move is the decision from freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) to run in new District 13 instead of where his home and the majority of his current constituents reside, in new District 14.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn

Cawthorn, at at the age of 26, is the youngest member of Congress; he was elected to represent the 11th District in 2020, succeeding Mark Meadows, the former Trump chief of staff who left the US House to enter the White House. The 11th has traditionally been the number for the district that sits in the Tar Heel State’s far western corner, anchored in Asheville and nestled among the Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina borders, but the newly enacted congressional map changes its number to 14.

Though the seat in its present configuration has become strongly Republican, that was not always the case. Throughout the 1980’s the district became one of the most politically marginal CDs in the country. During that entire decade, the 11th switched repeatedly back and forth between Democrat James Clarke and Republican Billy Hendon.

Once businessman and former state legislator Charles Taylor defeated Rep. Clarke in 1990, he was able to hold the district for eight consecutive terms until losing in 2006 to Democrat Heath Shuler, the former star University of Tennessee quarterback and NFL player. Shuler represented the district for three terms before retiring, leading to Meadows winning the first of his four elections. Rep. Cawthorn then recorded a 55-42 percent win in 2020 to keep the seat in the Republican column.

The new iteration of the westernmost North Carolina district returns to a more politically marginal status with a statistical history producing Republican victories in the low 50s rather than the high 50s. The adjacent new open 13th District, which annexes the western part of the Charlotte metropolitan area and moves to the Buncombe County line, becomes the region’s new safe Republican seat.

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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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