Category Archives: Redistricting

Redistricting Update

Redistricting action occurred in the following three states during the past week:

CONNECTICUT (current delegation: 5D) – The members of the bi-partisan special legislative committee charged with drawing the new legislative and congressional maps have informed Gov. Dan Malloy (D) that a new committee will have to be authorized. The 30-day work period originally assigned the current panel will expire this Thursday. Once re-appointed, the eight member committee comprised of four Democrats and four Republicans will name a ninth member in order to break any tie that is likely to occur. Gov. Malloy is expected to grant the committee’s request for re-appointment and extension.

OHIO (current delegation: 13R-5D; loses two seats) – The House-passed congressional map is likely to gain state Senate approval this week and then move on to Gov. John Kasich (R) for his signature. Democrats have already pledged to attempt to qualify a citizens referendum to overturn the plan, but history tells us that the chance of successfully implementing such a maneuver is highly doubtful.

The Ohio map appears to be one of the better plans, from their perspective, drawn by a Republican-controlled entity. Pairing the Democrats against each other and adding a new Democratic open seat in Columbus to protect their two area marginal seats proves that they are drawing with a decade-long strategy in mind. The map is designed to deliver a 12R-4D party division. Here’s a look at how things are shaping up in some districts:

• District 3 (Open Seat) – The new 3rd District encompasses most of the city of Columbus and may prove to be the signature district of this map. It is unusual that Republican map drawers would create a new seat and make it Democratic, but that’s exactly what they did … and, it makes sense. Because Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-OH-12) and Steve Stivers (D-OH-15) have increasingly marginal districts (in fact, the Stivers’ seat was held by former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D) for one term), putting a new Democratic seat in a city that houses both a state capital and major university is a smart play. Instead of risking a Republican seat every two years, the plan makes the two aforementioned GOP seats safe for the decade.

• District 8 (House Speaker John Boehner-R) – in what comes as no surprise to anyone, Mr. Boehner gets a safe Cincinnati-area suburban seat similar to the one he currently represents.

• District 9 (Reps. Marcy Kaptur-D and Dennis Kucinich-D) – since Ohio is losing two seats in reapportionment, it is unavoidable that at least four members will battle for two districts. One of the pairings is new District 9, that stretches from Cleveland to Toledo in a long narrow draw that hugs the Lake Erie shoreline. Kucinich, who was looking to run for re-election in either Washington or Hawaii because he said he would not run against a fellow incumbent, will again seek election in Ohio and challenge a colleague.

• District 11 (Rep. Marcia Fudge-D) – it is likely that Ms. Fudge will be the only incumbent Democrat that gets an easy ride to re-election. Comprised of the downtown regions in both Cleveland and Akron, Fudge could conceivably be primaried by Rep. Sutton who currently represents the Akron portion of the district, but such a scenario is unlikely. The 11th will prove to be a safe African-American Democratic seat for Ms. Fudge.

TEXAS (current delegation: 23R-9D; gains four seats) – As expected by many, the US Justice Department, while pre-clearing the recently enacted state Senate and Board of Education maps, has so far failed to approve the congressional and state House plans. DoJ is requesting more information about both maps, but it appears the congressional plan, as submitted, has major legal issues. It is unlikely that the map presented will actually take effect as drawn. The legal proceedings in San Antonio continue as well. Look for more definitive action here as the year draws to a close.

Turner Win Endangers Upstate NY Democrats

Representative-elect Bob Turner’s (R-NY-9) special election victory in Anthony Weiner’s vacated Queens/Brooklyn congressional district carries greater ramifications for the New York Democratic Party than merely losing a seat that was theirs for the taking. With the Empire State losing two districts in reapportionment, the Turner victory will now likely put at least one upstate Democrat on the political hot seat.

In New York, as in most other states, redistricting is handled through the normal state legislative process. Democrats control two of the three levers of political power here: the Governor’s office and the state Assembly. Republicans have a small majority in the state Senate. This gives both parties a seat at the redistricting table and will send the map to court unless the political leaders can reach a compromise.

Since losing representation is nothing new for this delegation, the traditional method of deciding which seats to collapse is to divide them evenly between the two political parties. Such will likely be the 2012 outcome, too, even though the Democrats have a 21-8 majority in the current NY congressional lineup.

Typically those in power collapse the least senior members’ seats. It is clear that the Democrats will want to collapse Turner’s 9th District, because it is fertile territory that can be used to shore up their other districts. All 29 seats are under-populated, hence the reason the state is dropping two more seats. Thus, if Mr. Turner, the newest freshman, is to see his 9th CD divided among the others in the city, the map drawers will then be looking upstate to collapse a Democratic district. Before, it was assumed that the Democratic loss would come in the city and an upstate Republican would likely be drawn out. Because of Turner’s surprise victory this past Tuesday, it is likely that the tables have turned.

If you look at the population numbers for each of New York’s 29 seats, the district needing the greatest influx of people is that of 82-year-old congressional veteran Louise Slaughter (D). Her 28th District is 105,869 individuals under zero-deviation quota. The district boundaries stretch from Niagara Falls to Rochester and many people believe its configuration resembles a set of headphones. The adjacent district, Rep. Brian Higgins’ (D) 27th District, which encompasses Buffalo and travels southwest along the Lake Erie coastline to the Pennsylvania border, needs an additional 88,436 people and is the state’s second-most under-populated seat. Clearly, the simple mathematics suggests that a pairing of these two sparse seats is a distinct possibility.

Keeping within the practice of “last in; first out,” then freshman Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY-26) could also become a target. Ms. Hochul won a special election earlier this year after Rep. Christopher Lee (R) resigned. Her seat stretches between Buffalo and Rochester but contains no portion of either city. It is always easier to collapse a district that lies in the middle of a region rather than one in a corner, and the 26th certainly fits this criteria.

A more intriguing option for the Democrats, however, might be to sacrifice Rep. Bill Owens in the 23rd District. In what should still be a Republican seat, the GOP badly bungled the 2010 special election and the succeeding general vote to elect the novice Democratic politician. Since the 23rd is high on the national GOP’s conversion target list, collapsing this particular seat would almost serve the same purpose as taking another Republican district away. The worst case Democratic scenario would be to sacrifice another member and then lose the Owens seat, too. Giving up the 23rd might mitigate their losses and become the safe play.

Other elimination possibilities are the districts of Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22) and Nita Lowey (D-NY-18). Both are down approximately 40,000 in population, and each member is over 70 years of age and has considered retirement possibilities. If either of the two decides not to seek re-election, then the choice of which district to collapse becomes easy.

Expect New York to be one of the last states to finish its redistricting process, meaning it will end well into next year. At that time we will finally learn who wins and loses the game of political “Russian Roulette.”

Redistricting Update

Redistricting action occurred in the following eight states during the past week:

FLORIDA (current delegation 19R-6D; gains two seats): The redistricting initiative that Florida voters adopted in 2010 survived its first legal challenge. The measure requires more compact districts, which limits the number of times county lines can be broken. Reps. Corrine Brown (D-FL-3) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-21) filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the initiative, largely because they believe the measure conflicts with the Voting Rights Act. Rep. Brown’s 3rd district, which encompasses parts of Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Orlando, would be radically reconstructed if the new criteria is allowed to take effect. A federal judge formally rejected their case at the end of last week. Brown and Diaz-Balart say they will appeal the ruling.

GEORGIA (current delegation: 8R-5D; gains one seat): Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed the congressional redistricting plan that the legislature sent him at the end of last week. The map must now obtain federal Voting Rights Act approval.

IDAHO (current delegation: 2R): The Idaho Redistricting Commission failed to produce a congressional map by the appointed deadline. By state law, the Idaho Supreme Court now steps in to direct the process. The high court could send the process back to the Commission, telling the bi-partisan members to continue working in order to fulfill their responsibility, or draw the new map itself.

NEW MEXICO (current delegation: 2D-1R): Gov. Susana Martinez (R) called the legislature back into special session to complete the redistricting process along with several other issues. The session is expected to last at least two weeks. The Democratic legislature and Republican governor must agree upon a three-district congressional map. Should they fail to do so, a common occurrence in situations featuring split-control state government, the courts will take over the process.

OHIO (current delegation: 13R-5D; loses two seats): Hard speculation is now coming from Columbus as congressional members of both parties are beginning to receive information about the Republican majority map strategy. There is no question that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH-10) will be one of the members paired under the eventual new plan. It now looks as if Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9), in her Toledo-anchored seat, will be placed in the same district as Cleveland’s Kucinich. Such a draw would allow Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11) to command the Cleveland city district.

The rumor that the Republicans would build a new Democratic seat in Columbus so that Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-OH-12) and Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) will obtain safe districts instead of the more marginal seats they currently represent, appears to have legs. In exchange for this seat, Democratic Reps. Betty Sutton (D-OH-13) and Tim Ryan (D-OH-17) reportedly will be paired into one district.

Since the state is losing two seats, a pair of GOP incumbents will also be placed in one district. The latest speculation now surrounds Reps. Mike Turner (R-OH-3) and Steve Austria (R-OH-7) having to square off for one western Ohio congressional seat.

PENNSYLVANIA (current delegation: 12R-7D; loses one seat): The Pennsylvania Republican majority is about ready to unveil their congressional maps. Reports suggest that the delegation’s odd-man-out, since the state loses one seat, will be Rep. Mark Critz (D-PA-12). Among Reps. Jason Altmire (D-PA-4), Critz, and Mike Doyle (D-PA-14), expect to see two of these three placed in one district. Altmire and Critz are the two most likely to be paired since Doyle represents the Pittsburgh city seat, which will certainly be present in some configuration. The latest speculation suggests that Altmire will be in the more favorable position to win a Democratic primary for paired district than Critz.

TEXAS (current delegation: 23R-9D; gains four seats): The redistricting trial is underway in San Antonio. More than a dozen lawsuits were filed against the new congressional map that was enacted into law in late June, and all of the cases have been consolidated into one hearing process. The trial is expected to last until Sept. 16. A final ruling is not expected until the end of the year. The minority composition of Districts 20 (Rep. Charlie Gonzalez-D) and 35 (Rep. Lloyd Doggett-D) is the focal point of the cases.

VIRGINIA: (current delegation: 8R-3D): Efforts to craft a compromise congressional map between the Democratic state Senate and Republican House of Delegates may have reached their final impasse. No further action will occur until after the November legislative elections. The map will either be drawn by the new legislature after it convenes in January, or by the courts. Republicans hope to sustain the 8R-3D status quo. Democrats are trying to get a more favorable draw that may bring them closer to the 6D-5R split that they enjoyed during the last congressional session.

Redistricting at the Halfway Point

Now that we’ve reached the half-way point in the redistricting cycle, we re-cap the completed states from a partisan perspective. Action occurred in three states during the past week: Georgia, Utah and Washington.

GEORGIA (current delegation: 8R-5D; gains one seat): The Georgia congressional map has passed both houses of the legislature, and is headed to Gov. Nathan Deal (R) who is expected to sign the legislation into law.

UTAH (current delegation: 2R-1D; gains one seat): Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has officially called the legislature into special session beginning October 3rd to complete the redistricting process. The session could last as few as five days.

WASHINGTON (current delegation: 5D-4R; gains one seat): The Washington State Redistricting Commission will release proposed congressional and legislative maps Sept. 13. The four-member commission is comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans. Three of the four members must agree on the proposed plans by Jan. 1, 2012 and submit them to the legislature. Both houses then must approve the maps by majority vote on or before Feb. 10. Amendments are possible but can only be adopted by 2/3 vote of each legislative chamber. If the commission fails to produce a map, or the measure stalls in the legislature, the Washington Supreme Court takes over the process.

Congressional Redistricting Now Completed
Arkansas        Louisiana     Oregon
California      Michigan      West Virginia
Illinois            Missouri       Wisconsin
Indiana           Nebraska
Iowa                Oklahoma

Completed Plans Awaiting Justice Department/DC Circuit Court Action
Alabama
North Carolina
South Carolina
Texas

Completed Plans Awaiting Governor’s Signature
Georgia

Court Maps to be Drawn
Colorado
Minnesota
Nevada

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Incumbents Facing Challenges in 2012 – Part II

In concluding our two-part series about House members who will face serious 2012 re-election challenges, below we list 22 more competitive incumbents from states where redistricting has been completed or which is pending but clear.

IN-8 – Larry Bucshon (R) – In attempting to gain a 7R-2D advantage for the delegation, the 8th district of freshman Rep. Bucshon was weakened, from the Republican perspective. Expect competition here, but the new incumbent remains the favorite.

IA-3 – Leonard Boswell (D) / Tom Latham (R) – In the only intra-party pairing of the new election cycle so far, veteran Reps. Boswell and Latham square-off in a marginal district. Mr. Boswell represents more of the new district, but the voting patterns tilt a touch toward Mr. Latham. This race begins as a pure toss-up.

IA-4 – Steve King (R) – The new western-based 4th district is mostly comprised of Rep. King’s current 5th district and part of Mr. Latham’s old 4th. Christie Vilsack (D), wife of former Gov. Tom Vilsack who serves as President Obama’s Agriculture Secretary, already has announced her intention to challenge Rep. King. This will be a competitive race because of Vilsack’s fundraising capability. However, King begins with the decided advantage.

LA-3 – Jeff Landry (R) / Charles Boustany (R) – Louisiana’s loss of a congressional seat pits freshman Rep. Jeff Landry against veteran Charles Boustany in a Republican primary battle. The winner retains the seat. Boustany is the early favorite.

MI-9 – Sander Levin (D) / Gary Peters (D) – Michigan’s loss of a district pairs 15-term Rep. Levin against two-term Rep. Peters. Levin, who will be 80 at the time of the next election, is a retirement possibility. Peters has also tested the waters to run for Oakland County Executive. The winner of this primary battle, should it occur, holds the seat.

MO-2 – Russ Carnahan (D) – The loss of a seat in Missouri has forced Rep. Carnahan either to challenge Rep. Lacy Clay in the 1st district Democratic primary or try to survive in the neighboring Republican 2nd district seat, in open status because Rep. Todd Akin is running for the Senate. Carnahan is competitive here, but will be the underdog.

NH-2 – Charlie Bass (R) – The 2nd district is now more like Vermont than New Hampshire in terms of voting patterns. This means the seat is decidedly Democratic. Rep. Bass regained the position he lost in 2006, but by just one percentage point over Democratic lobbyist Anne McLane Kuster. Redistricting must move only 254 people between the two districts, so Bass’s hopes for a more Republican seat are gone. This is a prime Democratic conversion opportunity.

NY-25 – Ann Marie Buerkle (R) – Though redistricting won’t be completed well into next year, we can count on a competitive race in this Syracuse-based district. Chances are the city will remain intact, meaning it will anchor a seat in the Upstate region. Former Rep. Dan Maffei (D), the man Ms. Buerkle unseated in 2010, has already announced his intention to run again next year.

NC-3 – Rep. Walter Jones (R) – Though Rep. Jones has a safe Republican seat in which to run for re-election, the district has vast new territory for him. Already, retired New Bern Police Chief Frank Palumbo (R) has announced a GOP primary challenge to Mr. Jones. Others could follow suit.

NC-4 – David Price (D) / Brad Miller (D) – The Republican redistricting plan placed two Democratic incumbents in a seat that now stretches from Raleigh to Fayetteville. This will be a difficult primary as each man represents about one-third of this new district. The winner retains the seat for the Democrats.

NC-7 – Mike McIntyre (D) – Redistricting also threw Rep. McIntyre into a difficult district. This will be a top Republican conversion target. Both 2010 GOP nominee Ilario Pantano and state Sen. David Rouzer (R) have announced their intentions to run.

NC-8 – Larry Kissell (D) – Rep. Kissell loses a great number of Democratic votes in this new redistricting plan, making him a tempting GOP target. Three local officials, including one who isn’t from the district, have announced for the seat. Expect more candidates to soon enter the fray.

NC-11 – Heath Shuler (D) – Rep. Shuler may have received the most difficult draw of all, as he now represents the most Republican congressional district in North Carolina. Local District Attorney Jeff Hunt and several local officials already are officially running.

OR-4 – Peter DeFazio (D) – The seat became a touch more Republican in redistricting and Rep. DeFazio raised eyebrows with his comment earlier this week that he is thinking about retirement. Could be competitive in an open situation. Republican Art Robinson, who received 44% of the vote against DeFazio in 2010, is running again.

RI-1 – David Cicilline (D) – Negative stories about Rep. Cicilline’s financial management of Providence when he was mayor has made the freshman congressman potentially vulnerable. Two strong Republican candidates, including 2010 nominee John Loughlin and former state police chief Brendan Doherty, are running. Chances appear high that Cicilline could draw Democratic primary opposition, too.

TN-3 – Charles Fleischmann (R) – Though redistricting is not yet finalized in Tennessee, freshman Rep. Fleischmann in the Chattanooga-based seat will likely face primary opposition. Robin Smith, the local county Republican Party chair who lost to Fleischmann by less than 1,500 votes in 2010, is considering a re-match.

TN-4 – Scott DesJarlais (R) – Mr. DesJarlais, who unseated then-Rep. Lincoln Davis (D) by more than 30,000 votes last November, could see a GOP primary challenge from state Sen. Bill Ketron (R). Sen. Ketron is on the legislative committee in charge of redistricting, which presumably allows him to draw the 4th district to his liking.

TN-8 – Stephen Fincher (R) – Though redistricting is not completed, the 8th district, by virtue of its geographic location in the northwest corner of the state, will likely be competitive in 2012. Mr. Fincher is the first modern-day Republican congressman from this region.

TX-35 – Lloyd Doggett (D) – If the Texas map survives its legal challenges, Rep. Doggett will face a stiff Democratic primary battle in the new 35th District that includes parts of Austin and San Antonio. Already, state Rep. Juan Castro (D), twin brother to San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D), has announced he will challenge Doggett.

UT-2 – Jim Matheson (D) – Redistricting will likely put Rep. Matheson in another strongly Republican seat. He already represents the most Republican district held by a Democratic member. Matheson is also a potential statewide candidate. The Republicans will win the seat if he vacates.

WV-1 – David McKinley (R) – Redistricting kept the 1st district largely intact, which is a seat Mr. McKinley can hold, despite it being in Democratic hands for generations before 2010. Ex-Rep. Alan Mollohan, who was defeated in the Democratic primary after 14 terms in office, is a possible candidate in 2012. The Democrats will field a strong challenger here, and this race will be competitive.

WI-7 – Sean Duffy (R) – Mr. Duffy won a seat that was in former Rep. David Obey’s (D) hands for more than 40 years. The district gained Republicans in the re-draw, but Rep. Duffy can expect a stiff re-election challenge from a strong Democrat.

In these two reports (go to our Part I report) we already have isolated 44 incumbents who will face a competitive re-election challenge in either the primary or the general election. Keep in mind that no less than 13 major states still have not completed their redistricting, including Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Add in at least 26 more open seats and it is conceivable that as many as 90-100 House seats could be contested as the 2012 election hits its stride.
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For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.