Category Archives: House

Virginia Map Released

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 13, 2021 — The Virginia congressional redistricting map was just published and it contains some surprises. Unexpectedly, the overall plan features more competitive districts than the current map, and the state’s three female members each drew more difficult political situations. All eight males would have safe seats.

Because the Virginia Redistricting Commission members failed to produce a new congressional map by the stated deadline, the Supreme Court of Virginia was forced to assume map drawing responsibilities. The court hired two special masters, a Democrat and a Republican, to collaborate and produce a new federal map.

The 11-district plan enhances the political competition in two seats when compared to vote totals typically yielded from the current map and creates a new open seat that sets the scene for a highly contested Democratic primary. The districts of Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) clearly become more competitive, while Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) has no reasonable place to run.

Instead of placing the new 7th District in the central part of the state beginning in Henrico County where Rep. Spanberger resides, the seat is transferred to Northern Virginia and will occupy all of Prince William and Stafford counties along with the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Fredericksburg in addition to a small piece of southeastern Fairfax County. The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization rates the new 7th as D+14.

Immediately, two Democratic candidates who this year ran statewide — gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Carroll Foy and Hala Ayala, the lieutenant governor nominee — both expressed interest in running for the new seat. Both women are former state delegates. Though the new Prince William-anchored district is numbered seven, none of Spanberger’s current constituents reside here.

First District Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Montross) loses the Northern Virginia region he currently represents and sees his district move west. It picks up the western part of Henrico County and pairs him with Rep. Spanberger. With the statistics projecting the new 1st as R+16, it appears any Wittman-Spanberger campaign would end badly for the Democratic congresswoman.

The remaining parts of the Spanberger constituency have gone to Rep. Donald McEachin’s (D-Richmond) 4th District, and Rep. Wexton’s 10th CD. Such would force Rep. Spanberger to challenge a sitting Democratic incumbent if she were to choose to run in one of these seats. In no situation does Rep. Spanberger have a reasonable victory path.

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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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Rep. Peter DeFazio to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield)

Dec. 3, 2021 — Saying that he “…need[s] a little more time for myself, for my health and well-being, for my wife, my family, and the things I love in Oregon,” veteran Beaver State Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield), chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, announced Tuesday that he will retire after completing his 18th term next year. He ranks sixth in House seniority.

Rep. DeFazio becomes the 19th Democrat, and third full committee chair, to not seek re-election in this cycle. The other retiring chairs are Reps. John Yarmuth (Budget) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (Science, Space, and Technology).

Through his 18 congressional elections, DeFazio averaged 64.4 percent of the vote, but his victory margins dropped precipitously since 2010. His 2020 performance, scoring just 51.5 percent of the vote, was the lowest of his long career. Since the 2010 election, inclusive, he failed to reach the 60 percent threshold and averaged 55.9 percent in a district that was becoming more Republican as the population grew substantially.

In all but the 2020 election during this 12-year period, Rep. DeFazio faced the same Republican opponent, college professor Art Robinson. Though Robinson ran five consecutive times from 2010 through 2018, he would make a maximum effort in only three of the campaigns.

In the most recent contest, a battle that DeFazio won 51-46 percent against Afghan War veteran and anti-terrorist hero Alex Skarlatos, the Republicans did target the contest. Skarlatos’ campaign committee spent almost $5.2 million, not counting the substantial independent expenditures that came into the district.

The 4th District of Oregon hugs most of the state’s beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline, and encompasses the Eugene-Springfield metro area as its population anchor. At the time of the 2020 election, 595,443 people were registered to vote in this congressional district, the second-highest total in the state. Of that number, 32.6 percent were registered Democrats, and 31.2 percent registered as non-affiliated, while 28.8 percent chose the Republican Party.

Despite the high number of registered voters, the 4th District’s population shed figure was 117,399 individuals, very large for most states, but actually the lowest total among Oregon’s five CDs. Such is the principal reason the state gained a sixth district in reapportionment.

When the new map was drawn, the state legislative leadership had a goal of creating a 5D-1R map. In order to achieve this ratio, at least one of the Democratic seats would be weak from a partisan perspective.

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