Category Archives: Redistricting

Bass for Mayor; Redistricting Update

By Jim Ellis

California Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles)

Sept. 29, 2021 — Reports were surfacing last week that California Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), who had been on candidate Joe Biden’s short list for the vice presidential nomination, was deciding whether to eschew re-election next year for a chance to run for LA mayor. Now, she has made the decision. On Monday, Rep. Bass formally entered the citywide race.

The mayor’s election likely will be semi-open. Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) has been nominated as US ambassador to India, and upon obtaining his Senate confirmation, the City Council will be empowered to appoint an interim mayor. That individual will have the opportunity of then seeking a full four-year term during the regular election cycle. Certainly, Rep. Bass could be a potential appointee. Should Mayor Garcetti not receive a timely confirmation as ambassador, he would be ineligible to seek a third term, so in any event, the mayor’s contest will be highly competitive.

From a federal perspective, Bass running for mayor means her 37th Congressional District will be open. Of the 18 congressional districts that are wholly or partially contained within Los Angeles County, 17 of them need a population influx. With California losing a seat, it appears that the Los Angeles area will absorb the reduction.

Since Rep. Bass is the first Golden State House member to announce that he or she won’t seek re-election, her 37th District that needs 38,173 people to meet the state’s CD population quota of 760,350 people for the new 52 district map – a west Los Angeles County seat centered around the Culver City community – now becomes a prime target for elimination.

In the mayor’s race, Bass will at least face Los Angeles City Council President Pro Tempore Joe Buscaino, LA City councilman and former state Senate president and ex-US Senate candidate Kevin de Leon, and LA City Attorney Mike Feuer. It is likely others will enter the race once the political situation surrounding Mayor Garcetti is defined, and the congressional and legislative redistricting picture becomes clearer.

Redistricting Update

Several states are making progress in drawing new congressional maps. Colorado will send a final plan to the state Supreme Court as early as today. Indiana and Maine are close to finalizing maps that will strengthen both states’ political divisions, 7R-2D in the Hoosier State, and 2D-0R in the latter.

Oregon is also moving toward completion of a map that may prove a reach for the Democratic majority. Gaining a sixth seat in national reapportionment, the Democrats are trying to craft a 5D-1R map. Though Republicans have a significant base in the state, the Democrats maintain a tight grip on the statewide races thanks to dominant Portland, which serves as the lynchpin to their Beaver State political success.

Therefore, though the Dems have a clear edge in five of the new CDs, the early partisan analysis figures suggest that the Republicans would have at least an outside chance of prevailing in one of the districts, most likely that of Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby/Salem), and possibly in the new 6th District open seat. More will be known when in depth political data is available and candidates begin to come forward.

The Texas Republican Senate’s congressional map was unveiled yesterday. As predicted, the GOP map drawers used the state’s two new seats as somewhat of a buffer, at least in the Austin area, to strengthen districts that were showing weakness. Should this map be enacted, Reps. Chip Roy (R-Austin), Michael McCaul (R-Austin), John Carter (R-Round Rock), and Roger Williams (R-Austin) all receive much stronger Republican seats. In exchange, one of the new seats goes to Travis County and will await a new Democratic inhabitant.

The other new seat appears destined for Harris County. There, sophomore Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D-Houston) moves from a political marginal district to a rock solid Harris-Ft. Bend County Democratic District. This allows the second new seat to fall to a Republican and be fully contained within Harris County. In the northern part of the region, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston) receives a substantially better district, and assumes part of Republican Montgomery County.

In the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, the region doesn’t get a new district, but a reconfiguration allows all incumbents, both Republicans and Democrats, to improve upon their present internal political standing.

This Texas map is a long way from enactment. The state House Democrats are unified to vote against any Republican map, and while the GOP has the strength to pass what they want in the Senate, the state House is a different story. It is likely we will see the current 30-day special session end in deadlock, with another 30-day session to follow. The Democratic strategy is to force the redistricting process to court, while the Republicans will attempt to pass a series of maps into law. Expect this story to be with us for many weeks to come.

The Texas Slow Walk

Map of US Congressional districts in Texas

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 27, 2021 — The new Texas congressional map has yet to be released and it may be some time before we see any progress being made toward passing a 38-seat federal plan.

While Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has called the legislature into a special redistricting session, the Democrats’ unified slow-walking strategy may achieve their goal of taking the process away from the Republican legislature and forcing a court to draw an interim map.

The state House of Representatives is the key. While Republicans have an 82-66 majority with two vacancies, it is the Democrats who have consistently been able to coalesce with a few moderate Republicans to elect a minority speaker, in other words a Republican who is in office largely through unified Democratic support.

In this session, the speaker is Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), and with the House members indicating they are not moving any map until they agree upon their own new districts, and the Democrats unified to oppose any Republican map at any level, we could see a long redistricting process evolve.

Complicating matters is that Texas has an early primary, and it’s still on the books for March 1. The Census Bureau delaying in getting all the states their census tract data for months, which contain the numbers necessary to draw legal districts, has caused further delays. Therefore, either the process must accelerate or the state will be forced to postpone its primary. Doing so would also defer the May 24 runoff elections for those primaries in which no candidate receives majority support.

Texas cannot default to the previous congressional map. The state was awarded two new seats in reapportionment, so a new map must be constructed. A court could conceivably postpone redistricting, revert to the former map, and order the candidates for the two new seats to run statewide. There is precedence for such a decision.

Currently, the Texas congressional delegation stands at 24 Republicans and 12 Democrats. Where the two new seats will land is subject to debate. Of the 36 current seats, 28 are over-populated and led by freshman Rep. Troy Nehls’ (R-Richmond) 22nd District, which holds 972,309 people according to the 2020 census count. In all, six districts have more than 900,000 people. The Texas target population number is 766,987 residents.

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Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez
Won’t Seek Re-Election

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River)

Sept. 21, 2021 — Saying he believes that former President Donald Trump “shouldn’t ever be president again,” sophomore Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) announced on Friday that he will not seek a third term in the House.

Rep. Gonzalez was one of 10 Republicans to support Trump’s second impeachment, and drew a strong Republican primary opponent as a result. Former President Trump responded to Gonzalez’s statement and decision with his own release saying, “1 down, 9 to go,” in reference to those Republican House members who supported removing him from office after the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion.

Gonzalez is the 19th member who will not be on the next election ballot for the US House seat he now holds, including the three vacancies to be filled in special elections. Of the 19, Republicans currently hold 10 seats as compared to nine for the Democrats. This is the first GOP opening with some competitive potential, however, though the Gonzalez decision will likely have a big impact upon the Ohio redistricting process currently under way within the state legislature in Columbus.

Former White House aide Max Miller had been Rep. Gonzalez’s top Republican competitor. Through the June 30 campaign financial disclosure period, Miller had raised just under $1 million ($951,520), but had only $533,153 remaining in cash-on-hand.

Despite Miller’s strong fundraising effort, Rep. Gonzalez still held the upper hand, reporting $1.22 million raised with over $1.5 million in the bank. Therefore, while the Miller challenge appeared formidable, it was not a foregone conclusion that he would have denied Rep. Gonzalez re-nomination had the congressman decided to continue running.

Rep. Gonzalez’s 16th Congressional District begins in the Westlake area to the west of Cleveland and stretches south toward the rural areas southwest of Canton. It then meanders to the northeast around Akron to end in the city of Edinburg.

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Colorado Redistricting Map:
Congressional Version 3

The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission members released for public input the third congressional map — and second staff offering. (Click on map to see bigger map, more detail)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 20, 2021 — The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission (congressional) members are on a tight time schedule so they are moving fast. The third congressional map, and second staff offering, was released for public input late last week.

Under the commission parameters, the members produced the first map and the staff constructed the second after completing public hearings. Once both maps were publicized, further comments were recorded. Responding again, the staff amended their draw and released the newest iteration.

The ballot initiative that created the commission process mandates that the members agree upon a map by Sept. 28. A super majority of eight of the 12 members is required to approve a final plan. If the commission members are unable to agree upon a map in such a ratio, the staff would then directly submit a version to the state Supreme Court. The high court must confirm the new congressional plan by Dec. 15. Therefore, it is reasonable to argue that the commission staff possesses more power than the members.

Clearly there were objections, likely from both parties, to the original staff map. Based upon public input, they claimed, a seat that occupied most of the state’s southern quadrant was placed into District 3, historically known as the “western slope” seat. It has traditionally stretched from the Rocky Mountains west of Denver all the way to the Utah border and from Wyoming to New Mexico.

The original staff map changed the 3rd District’s direction, eliminating its northern sector. This had the effect of pairing Reps. Joe Neguse (D-Boulder) and freshman Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) technically into one seat. The heart of District 3 largely remained intact under this map, so even though Boebert’s home was placed in District 2, she still had a place to run. Therefore, the potential incumbent pairing, a political set-up that would have greatly favored Rep. Neguse, is likely alleviated.

Drawing the southern seat had the effect of taking Neguse’s 2nd District from Boulder County all the way to Utah and significantly changing his district, as well. Though it would remain a solid Democratic seat, many conservative western slope voters would have been introduced into a new CD that also included liberal Boulder.

It is highly likely that neither Boebert nor Neguse liked that particular draw, and many leaders of both parties also probably lobbied the commission members and staff to change the map. If so, the persuasion worked.

The new staff map restores the western slope district to its previous formation, meaning encompassing Colorado’s western quadrant from Wyoming to New Mexico along the Utah border. It does include Democratic Pueblo County, which brings some competition to the district. According to the commission’s political statistical package, a historical eight-race averaging of significant electoral contests, the 3rd District would become relatively safe for Rep. Boebert with an R+9 political performance.

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First Indiana Map Published

Indiana Congressional Districts Draft Map (click on map to see larger file size details)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 17, 2021 — The Indiana House Republican majority caucus released the state’s first 2021 congressional redistricting map, and it appears to strengthen the party’s 7-2 grip on the Hoosier State federal delegation.

Political data is not readily accessible, but the geographic outline and reaction from at least one former Democratic congressional candidate suggests the biggest change comes in the state’s 5th District. IN-5 is the geographically central seat that had been trending away from being the safe Republican CD we saw during the previous decade’s early period.

Former state representative and 2016 lieutenant governor nominee Christina Hale (D), who lost to freshman Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) by a relatively close open seat 50-46 percent count last November, claims the House Republicans “kneecapped” any Democrat wanting to run in this district for the foreseeable future.

Though the official political data is not available, the Daily Kos Elections team calculated that former President Trump would have carried this new version of the 5th District with a 57-41 percent margin. His victory totals in the present 5th from 2020 and 2016 were 50-48 and 53-41 percent, respectively.

The current 5th District encompasses all or part of eight central Indiana counties including just over 180,000 people from Marion County in the northern Indianapolis suburbs. These are the precincts making the 5th more competitive as they now lean Democratic.

The proposed CD-5, and this released map, are a long way from being adopted through the legislative process; it would see a jettisoning of all of its Marion County population. Instead, the new district would occupy five whole counties north of Indianapolis and the Marion County line in addition to annexing almost all of Howard County.

The district coming into Marion County to replace the residents shed from the 5th is Rep. Greg Pence’s (R-Columbus) 6th District. Instead of moving in a north south direction along the Ohio border as is the current configuration, the proposed IN-6 would move from the Ohio border and enjoin counties to the west all the way into Marion County. The 6th, however, would assume the necessary Marion County population in the southern portion of the Indianapolis metropolitan area instead of the northern territory.

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