Category Archives: Redistricting

Michigan’s Anti-Incumbent Map

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 5, 2022 — One of the biggest complaints most commonly aired about redistricting is that it favors incumbents, but such is not the case with the recently completed Wolverine State congressional map. In fact, the members of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission appear to have gone out of their way to upend the state’s sitting federal office holders.

The current 14-seat map features seven Democrats and seven Republicans with two of the seats converting from Republican to Democrat in the 2018 election. Michigan loses a seat in reapportionment, and it became apparent from the start that the Republicans would absorb the loss because a great deal of the population growth deficit was coming from the middle section of the lower peninsula.

That proved to be the case, but the cut was a bit different than expected. Considering the population deficit and Michigan’s geography, i.e., being surrounded by lakes, Canada, and other states, the most logical district for collapse appeared to be Rep. John Moolenaar’s (R-Midland) 4th District because it sat in the middle of the area that the population change clearly affected.

While the Moolenaar district was certainly altered in a significant manner, it was the western district of Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) that was broken into small pieces.

While true that Moolenaar was technically paired with Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flushing/Flint) because his home city of Midland was placed in the new 8th District, a new safe Republican 2nd CD that contains much of the current Moolenaar district lies available for him to the west. While Rep. Kildee sees his home Flint/Flushing area remaining intact, he finds himself in a more competitive seat and may be facing a challenge from former congressman, attorney general, state appellate judge, and ex-US Senate and gubernatorial GOP nominee Bill Schuette in a seat that can now conceivably elect a Republican.

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Arizona’s Competitive Map

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 4, 2022 — The Grand Canyon State of Arizona was one of the places to complete the redistricting process toward the end of 2021 when the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission members approved a new congressional plan. The new district boundaries will create one of the most competitive US House maps in the country.

The current 5D-4R map could easily swing from 6D-3R all the way to 3D-6R depending upon the political winds in any given election year. Among the current incumbents, Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona), David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills), and Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) all see more competitive new seats.

The commission members also changed the district numbers, making voter history comparisons a bit more confusing. They did provide political data that summarizes certain past elections for each new seat, however. The data chart covers 10 statewide race results from 2016 through 2020.

Rep. O’Halleran’s 1st District, which stretches throughout most of eastern Arizona, is now labeled #2 and becomes much more Republican despite adding Native American population. In fact, the historical average is majority Republican, at 53.6 percent. The FiveThirtyEight statistical projection rates the new 2nd as the fourth most Republican district in the state at R+15.

Under the previous map, FiveThirtyEight rated the O’Halleran seat at R+8. Rep. O’Halleran, though acknowledging he will have a more difficult re-election battle, has already announced that he will run in the new 2nd.

Prior to the map release, two-term GOP state Rep. Walt Blackman, a Bronze Star Medal recipient for combat in Iraq and the first African American Republican to be elected to the state House, announced for the congressional seat, and now appears to be in even stronger political position opposite Rep. O’Halleran.

Rep. Schweikert’s 6th District electorate that includes the Scottsdale area, returned him for a sixth term with only a 52-48 percent margin in a CD that FiveThirtyEight rated R+13. The new 1st District has a 51.3 percent Republican average vote. The FiveThirtyEight rating for the new confines is R+7, meaning that Schweikert can again expect a competitive general election challenge.

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Redistricting:
California & New Jersey Maps

Click on map of California above for detailed view

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2022 — The California and New Jersey redistricting commissions are completing the last steps of passing what look to be the final congressional plans for each state. The cursory analysis suggests that Democrats may gain a seat in California with Republicans doing likewise in the Garden State.


California

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission members approved and sent toward final adoption a new 52-district congressional map that could give the Democrats even more seats in the delegation, though we will see several more competitive districts come into play. California lost one seat in reapportionment and Democrats are taking the loss of one of their Los Angeles County seats, but look to be replacing it, and then some, in other parts of the Golden State.

The 47th and 40th Districts of retiring members Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) were combined to construct a new 42nd CD, which is heavily Democratic. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), who is leaving the House to enter the campaign for mayor of Los Angeles, sees her 37th District, which was on the chopping block in the first draft map, restored almost intact.

Major change is occurring in the Central Valley. Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) sees his 10th District going from an R1 rating according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical analysis organization to R17. Therefore, it is unlikely he will run in his new designated 5th District.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) may leave what is a new 13th District at D7 and move to the downtown Fresno seat, now labeled District 21. This seat has much of resigning Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Tulare) territory but is rated a D16. Rep. Costa choosing the 21st might allow Rep. Harder to drop down into new District 13, which would be a much more favorable partisan situation but takes him away from his geographical base.

Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita), who won his 2020 election by just a 333-vote margin, sees his designated district, now numbered 27, become at least three points more Democratic. This endangers even further his re-election chances. The 538 organization rated his current 25th CD as a D5. The new 27th becomes a D8.

Several Republicans have proven they can win these D-plus single digit type seats, however. In addition to Rep. Garcia’s two victories in current CD-25, Rep. David Valadao’s (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) 21st district is rated a D9. His new seat, designated District 22, goes to a D10. Another option for him would be to also run in District 13 (D7), which contains some of his current territory. Rep. Young Kim (R-La Habra) won a 39th District that FiveThirtyEight rated as a D6. Her new 45th CD is calculated at D5.

We could possibly see a district swap operation between Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) due to geography, and between Reps. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County) and Katie Porter (D-Irvine) for partisan reasons.

Rep. Steel’s district moves from a R2 to a D6, while Rep. Porter’s adjacent CD shifts in the opposite direction, going from a D6 all the way to a R4. The problem can be solved for both members by them simply switching districts. This would mean Rep. Porter would run in the new coastal 47th with Rep. Steel going to the inland new 40th.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) gets a solid Democratic district, but its new positioning is unfavorable to him from a geographic perspective. Garamendi’s new 8th District moves closer to the San Francisco Bay Area making him vulnerable to a challenge from a Bay Area Democratic state or local official. It is likely this new Vallejo-anchored CD would produce a double Democratic general election under the state’s top two jungle primary system.

Several members see their districts downgraded from a partisan perspective. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove/Sacramento) goes from R15 to R8 in a new 3rd District that stretches into southern California along the Nevada border.

Rep. Jerry McNerney’s (D-Stockton) 9th CD goes from D14 to D8, again according to the 538 analysis. Rep. Ken Calvert’s (R-Corona) designated CD, numbered 41, drops from his current R13 to R7. Rep. Mike Levin’s (D-San Juan Capistrano) 49th CD recedes two points from D7 to D5.


New Jersey

Click on map of New Jersey above to see detailed view

It appears that the New Jersey Redistricting Commission comprised of six Democratic elected officials, six similar Republicans, and a state Supreme Court selected tie-breaking member, have also agreed upon a new congressional map. New Jersey’s representation level remained constant with 12 seats, so it was a matter of adjusting the current districts.

It is evident that the rumor suggesting the commission would adopt a map that drastically weakened Rep. Tom Malinowski’s (D-Rocky Hill) seat in order to strengthen three other Democratic districts, those of Reps. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair/Morristown) proved true.

It further appears that Rep. Albio Sires’ (D-West New York) retirement did not change the commissioners’ outlook as to which district to weaken. Sires’ 8th District returns virtually intact, another indication that Sen. Bob Menendez’s son, Robert J. Menendez (D), will likely be the retiring congressman’s successor. The latter Menendez currently serves on the NY/NJ Port Commission.

While the NJ Democrats are securing three of their more politically marginal districts, Districts 3, 5, and 11, Republicans appeared poised, probably in the person of state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Edison) who held Malinowski to a 51-49 percent win in 2020, to convert the new 7th CD.

More research will be done on the likely-to-be-adopted California and New Jersey congressional maps when detailed district descriptions become available. It looks like several incumbent members will have decisions before them about where to run in California, while the focus of the New Jersey competitive action will center around the District 7 Malinowski-Kean re-match.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard to Retire

By Jim Ellis

California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey)

Dec. 23, 2021 — House retirement announcements keep coming, as late Monday veteran California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) made public her intention not to seek a 16th term next November.

In the 1992 election, Roybal-Allard, then a member of the California Assembly, won the open campaign to succeed her father, US Rep. Ed Roybal (D-CA), as he was concluding his own 30-year congressional career. Combined, the Roybal family will have held the Los Angeles County-based congressional district for 60 consecutive years when Rep. Roybal-Allard completes her current term at the beginning of 2023.

The congresswoman’s retirement announcement comes on the heels of fellow Los Angeles US Rep. Alan Lowenthal’s (D-Long Beach) pronouncement over the last weekend that he will not seek re-election. Both Roybal-Allard and Lowenthal are 80 years old.

The Lowenthal retirement apparently produced discussion within the California Citizens Redistricting Commission membership of collapsing his 47th District and combining it with Roybal-Allard’s 40th, which is nearby. They then agreed upon such a design, which would have meant a major constituency change for the congresswoman, taking her into a substantial amount of territory that she had not previously represented.

The redraw design makes sense particularly when seeing that the Roybal-Allard district, the most Hispanic seat in the nation with a population percentage exceeding 87 percent, is the CD also needing the greatest population influx, some 70,139 individuals, among the 35 California districts requiring more people.

Directly to the west of Roybal-Allard’s 40th lies Rep. Karen Bass’ 37th CD that includes Culver City and part of the Watts area. In late September, Bass announced that she will run for the open Los Angeles mayor’s office, becoming the first California member to create an open seat in the state delegation.

The original redistricting draft combined this district largely with Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-Los Angeles) CD, but with Reps. Roybal-Allard and Lowenthal now retiring, combining their two seats became the logical redrafting move. The Bass district was then restored.

Combining the 40th and the 47th into a new 42nd CD in conjunction with other adjustments, allows the Commission members to meet the state’s population quota of 760,350 residents per district throughout the Los Angeles metro area. Together, the 18 districts that comprise LA County required a population influx exceeding 620,000 people, hence collapsing a central and southern Los Angeles County pair of districts into one became the commissioners’ most logical solution.

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Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy &
New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park)

Dec. 22, 2021 — In a surprising move, three-term Florida US Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) announced that she won’t run for re-election next year, becoming the third member of the Florida delegation to leave the House at the beginning of 2023 in addition to the state gaining a new seat in national reapportionment. Not included in the total is the special election to fill the late Rep. Alcee Hastings’ (D-Delray Beach) South Florida 20th District that will conclude on Jan. 11.

The Murphy move means the Sunshine State will host four open congressional elections next year, three of which lie in the Orlando metro area. In addition to Congresswoman Murphy, Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) in an adjacent district is also leaving the House. She is challenging Sen. Marco Rubio (R). Furthermore, the state’s new 28th District will likely be placed in the Orlando metroplex. The lone non-Orlando area open seat is in the Tampa Bay area as Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) is foregoing re-election to again run for governor.

Rep. Murphy was elected in 2016, defeating then-Rep. John Mica (R) in a 51-49 percent result after the Florida state Supreme Court made the 7th District more Democratic during a mid-decade redistricting order. She averaged 56.5 percent of the vote in her two subsequent re-election campaigns and holds a seat on the powerful Ways & Means Committee.

New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York)

Also, New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) announced Monday that he will not seek a ninth full term in the House. The congressman was first elected in a concurrent 2006 special and general election replacing then-Rep. Bob Menendez (D) who had been appointed to the Senate. At the time, the eastern New Jersey district that borders the Hudson River across from New York City was numbered CD-13. It was changed to number 8 in the 2011 redistricting plan.

Prior to his election to Congress, Sires served in the New Jersey General Assembly and was the body’s speaker from 2002-06. During the 1995-2006 period, he was the mayor of West New York, and concurrently served in the legislature for most of that time. Prior to a 2006 law banning the practice, it was commonplace for New Jersey mayors to simultaneously hold both their municipal position and serve in the legislature.

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Rep. Titus (D) Decries Nevada Dem Map

By Jim Ellis

Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas)

Dec. 21, 2021 — Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) is drawing a great deal of recent media attention largely for the vulgar way in which she described the Democrats’ new Sliver State congressional redistricting map before a meeting of the Nevada AFL-CIO.

She is upset because her once politically rock-solid downtown Las Vegas-anchored district is now in the competitive realm, and she believes the legislators not only did her a disservice, but endangered, from a Democratic partisan context, all of the Clark County districts.

At the labor meeting, Titus described what the state Democrats did by saying, as quoted in the Nevada Current online publication:

“… you read that the Republicans are using gerrymandering to cut out Democratic seats, but they didn’t have to in this state. We did it to ourselves.”

Nevada is one of the 15 Democrat trifecta states — which is where one party controls the governor’s office, the state Senate, and state Assembly — and therefore holds the redistricting pen. The number of places where they can actually gain congressional seats through the re-draw process, however, is only four: Illinois, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon, which is why it is critical for the Nevada Democrats to hold their three Silver State seats. Rep. Mark Amodei’s (R-Carson City) northern 2nd District, for geographic and political reasons, must remain safely Republican.

Rep. Titus, however, believes the final map puts all three of the state’s Democratic districts in jeopardy. Predicting what could be a difficult year for the party in Nevada, Rep. Titus apparently thinks Republicans could sweep the state’s four congressional seats in the 2022 election.

She further stated, again as the Nevada Current reported, that,

“Republicans are going to turn out, and they are excited. Democrats are kind of ‘meh, I have to pay more gas prices. Hispanics aren’t going to want to turn out if we don’t get something for immigration. I mean, why would they?”

Titus remembers the 2014 election cycle when Democratic turnout was so poor in a down year for her party that Republicans swept the ticket from top to bottom.

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Calif. Rep. Alan Lowenthal to Retire

By Jim Ellis

California Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach)

Dec. 20, 2021 — California Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) announced late last week that he will not seek a sixth term in the House next year becoming the 18th Democratic member to either retire or run for another office.

Rep. Lowenthal, 80, will have been in elective office for 30 consecutive years at the completion of this term, including his time in the California Senate, State Assembly, and on the Long Beach City Council. Prior to venturing into elective politics, Lowenthal was a college psychology professor at the California State University at Long Beach.

The congressman’s 47th District is a small urban CD that contains parts of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. He represents the cities of Long Beach and Signal Hill in LA County, and Cypress, Westminster, and Garden Grove in Orange County. His district also is home to the Port of Long Beach, which is the largest container terminal in the nation, and is one of the key reasons Lowenthal sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

With a second California open seat coming in a period of just over a week — Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) announced Dec. 6 that he would resign — redistricting strategy could significantly change. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission members are in the process of developing a new congressional map.

California loses a seat in reapportionment, and the population numbers suggest that one of the Los Angeles area seats will be collapsed. Rep. Lowenthal’s district appeared to be one of the prime targets for elimination. The first draft map, however, yields a collapsing of Rep. Karen Bass’ 37th CD in the Culver City area largely because she announced her campaign for mayor of Los Angeles early, thus giving everyone advance notice that she would not be seeking re-election to the House. The Lowenthal retirement coupled with Nunes’ in the Central Valley, however, could change the redistricting strategy.

A total of 18 congressional districts touch Los Angeles County. Nine are fully contained within the county boundaries, while the other nine, such as Rep. Lowenthal’s 47th District, expand into neighboring domains. All 18 require more residents to meet the new state per district population quota of 760,350 individuals. CA-47 needs an additional 45,679 people to reach the resident requirement, making it the 13th highest California CD that requires increased population.

Rep. Bass’ district, one of the nine fully contained within LA County, ranks 17th among the California CDs needing more people, translating to 38,173 bodies.

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