Category Archives: Redistricting

Ohio Numbers Crunched

Ohio 2022 Congressional Redistricting map. Click on image to go to FiveThirtyEight’s fully interactive map.

By Jim Ellis

April 11, 2022 — When Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) announced the suspension of his re-election campaign on Wednesday, it brought some national attention to what has become a Buckeye State redistricting debacle.

Gibbs called out the Ohio State Supreme Court for allowing the replacement congressional district map to languish in political limbo after they rejected the first iteration for excessive political gerrymandering. Though congressional candidate filing was delayed until March 4 from the original Feb. 2 deadline in association with the state’s May 3 primary, the court still took no action toward finalizing a new map. Therefore, candidates were forced to file for districts that may or may not change before election day.

When the Ohio state high court finally informed the Democrat plaintiffs who were challenging the map that the decision regarding the first map constituted the final ruling, the complaint process had to rewind, beginning with a new lawsuit. Now filed, it is apparent that first judicial action on the new challenge is still months away. Therefore, the replacement map appears set for the 2022 elections, at least through the nomination process.

That finally being the case, we can now look at what is becoming a relatively competitive map for the upcoming general election.

Ohio loses a seat, therefore a new congressional map must be in place for the 2022 elections, otherwise all 15 US House contests would be decided on a statewide basis.

The state will now feature two open seats, Gibbs’ 7th CD and the newly configured open 13th District that Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) is vacating to run for US Senate. Two new House members, Reps. Shontel Brown (D-Warrensville Heights/Cleveland) and Mike Carey (R-Columbus), who were both elected in November 2021 special elections, will stand for full terms this year.

Of the 13 incumbents seeking re-election, two, Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) — the latter being the fourth longest-serving member of the House who was first elected in 1982 — find themselves in toss-up general election situations.

In Rep. Chabot’s 1st District, which covers much of greater Cincinnati, the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as a D+3. Dave’s Redistricting App largely agrees, finding the average Democratic vote over a historical set of races registering 49.91 percent as opposed to 47.93 percent for Republicans. Already, the general election is largely set with Rep. Chabot seeking re-election and the Democrats having a consensus candidate is Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman.

Rep. Kaptur sees the Cleveland portion of her district redacted, meaning her Toledo-anchored seat now features an even mix between Democrats and Republicans. The FiveThirtyEight group rates Kaptur’s new 9th CD at R+6, but Dave’s Redistricting App sees this seat differently. According to the party averages over the course of past political contests, the Democratic vote is 48.77 percent, as compared to a virtually even percentage for Republicans, 48.63.

Rep. Kaptur has no Democratic primary opposition, but four Republicans have filed, two of whom would be significant general election contenders. They are state Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) and state Rep. Craig Riedel (R-Defiance). It is likely that one of these two will advance into the general election and make the OH-9 general election campaign one of the most hotly contested in the nation.

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Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs Suspends Campaign for Re-election

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) to retire.

April 8, 2022 — Expressing frustration with the Ohio courts and constituent complexion of his new district, six-term Buckeye State Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) on Wednesday surprisingly became the 22nd Republican US House member who has decided not to seek re-election.

This retirement announcement is different from all the others — 31 Democrats have also made public their decision to leave the House at the end of the current session — because Gibbs had filed for re-election and Ohio early voting has already begun.

Lashing out at the state Supreme Court that has delayed for weeks in providing 2022 candidates a clear direction with regard to the redistricting maps, Gibbs said in his retirement announcement statement, “It is irresponsible to effectively confirm the congressional map for this election cycle seven days before voting begins, especially in the Seventh Congressional District, where almost 90 percent of the electorate is new and nearly two-thirds is an area primarily from another district, foreign to any expectations or connection to the current Seventh District.”

Rep. Gibbs has a valid point about the state Supreme Court. After rejecting the original congressional map under partisan gerrymandering reasoning, the legislature returned a second map, and the court did not render a decision, even after again rejecting the alternative version maps for the state House and Senate. Therefore, the congressional incumbents and candidates have been languishing for weeks not knowing precisely the location of the new district lines, and long past the candidate filing deadline that occurred on March 4.

The court justices then informed the Democratic plaintiffs regarding their lawsuit challenging the congressional lines, after waiting for several weeks with no action, that the original decision on the first map constituted their final ruling, thus the plaintiffs would have to file a new lawsuit for them to consider further arguments to the second plan. The Democratic plaintiffs did file again, but even preliminary action of any kind is reportedly now months away. Hence, the second map is, at least for now, in place for the 2022 election cycle.

The court and legislature were also in a battle over whether the high court even has jurisdiction to order new maps. Under the Ohio Constitution, the courts do not have authority to draw new redistricting maps. They may only remand any rejected map back to the legislature. Thus, the continuing saga of 2022 Ohio redistricting.

Considering Gibbs’ late withdrawal, Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) immediately announced that the congressman’s name cannot be removed from the ballot, and any vote cast for him would now not be counted. The move puts former Trump White House aide and Marine Corps veteran Max Miller in the favorite’s position for the Republican primary.

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California’s Strange Special Election in District 22 Held Yesterday

By Jim Ellis

Connie Conway (R)

April 6, 2022 — Voters in California’s Central Valley region have had their special congressional election wrap up as of yesterday. Former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) resigned at the beginning of this year, and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) scheduled a special election to fill the balance of the term even though this seat will disappear in the next Congress.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission members significantly re-drew the Fresno area, and Nunes’ 22nd District largely became the new 5th CD that stretches northerly from the Fresno area’s northeast sector to the outer Sacramento suburbs. The new 5th is strongly Republican, and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) sought re-election from this district. Had Nunes wanted to remain in Congress, this is the seat where he would have run.

Such being the case, the current 22nd District that former President Trump carried 52-46 percent and where Rep. Nunes averaged 61.7 percent of the vote during the five elections of the past decade, is split into four different seats, meaning last night’s special election winner really has no place to run in the general election. Therefore, the new member will serve just the balance of this year and retire.

Despite the lack of a congressional future, the 22nd District special drew four Republicans and two Democratic contenders. The race leader as of this writing is former state Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway (R), who had said from the beginning that she would only serve the remainder of this term. She currently leads the race with 34.8 percent. It will take a week before results can be finalized due to mail-in votes that still need to be tabulated.

Another Republican, Elizabeth Heng, who held Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) to a 57-43 percent victory in the current 16th CD (Rep. Costa is seeking re-election this year in the new 21st District), was also in the race. She was originally talking about running for the full term in the neighboring 13th District, a marginally competitive open seat, but did not file for the regular election.

The other Republican candidates were former FBI agent Michael Maher and retired Navy officer Matt Stoll. The Democrats were Lourin Hubbard, an operations manager at the California Department of Water Resources, and graduate student Eric Garcia.

In this special election, all of the candidates were placed on one ballot. If a contender received a majority of 50 percent plus one vote, said individual is elected outright and would be sworn into the House upon the California Secretary of State officially certifying the election. If no one received a majority, the top two finishers, regardless of party preference, would advance to a special general election run concurrently with the regular California primary election on June 7; with Conway’s tally currently standing at just 34.8 percent of the vote, it looks like things are headed that way.

Though the seat will be occupied for only a short time, this is an important election. Five seats are currently vacant, the number increasing with the resignations of Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Filemon Vela (D-TX) last week on March 31, and four are from the Republican side. This reduces the Republican conference temporarily to 209.

If the Republican party holds the 22nd CD in this special election cycle, and a Republican candidate ulitimately will likely win, the conference would grow to 210, with the majority Democrats at 221. If the Republicans hold the AK-at large, MN-1, and NE-1 seats in their own scheduled special elections later in the year, the party will again hold 213 seats. Democrats, on the other hand, look to drop to 220 when Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) resigns.

It is possible we will not see special elections in the Texas and Florida Democratic vacancies until the regular general election date. It appears that both Govs. Greg Abbott (R-TX) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL) have the legal leeway to schedule concurrently with the regular general election to fill the Vela and Deutch vacancies.

California’s current 22nd District is comprised of parts of Fresno and Tulare Counties and includes the northeastern portion of Fresno city and the communities of Clovis, Dinuba, Visalia, and Tulare.

Redistricting News – Ohio; Florida

By Jim Ellis

March 31, 2022 — Two long awaited key redistricting situations became clearer Tuesday, as the important electoral states of Ohio and Florida took action. While the Ohio congressional plan may finally be set for this election, the Sunshine State map, while still not close to finalization, is trending toward resolution.

Ohio

Click on map or here to go to: Interactive Ohio Congressional Redistricting map.

The state of Ohio has had the rockiest redistricting path this year, as the legislature and state Supreme Court have been passing and rejecting congressional and state legislative district maps since early in the year.

Last week, the high court, from which people were waiting for a new decision over the congressional map before them for several weeks, surprised the Democratic plaintiffs by informing them that they would have to file a new lawsuit. The justices explained that they had already issued a final ruling on the first map, hence the process would have to begin again with this second installment.

It now appears that the legislature-passed congressional map currently before the court will be used for the 2022 election. The briefing schedule was set for the new lawsuit, but the submission deadline is two months beyond the state’s May 3 primary. Therefore, the new congressional map looks to remain in place for 2022.

The new map would create a swing open 13th District south and east of Cleveland that would likely have been where Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) would have run for re-election had he stayed in the House. On this map, the other member not seeking re-election, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River), would have been paired with GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) in a new strongly Republican 7th District that encompasses the western Cleveland suburbs.

The two incumbents in the most competitive situations are Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) who both will face electorates favoring Democrats.

The lawsuit against the congressional map could well move forward during the latter part of this year, but any changes resulting from related legal action would likely mean a new draw for the 2024 election. After a string of favorable congressional map court rulings for Democrats, the lack of further judicial action in Ohio looks to benefit the Republicans, at least for the short term.

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Rep. Vela to Resign; Another Special?

Texas Congressional Redistricting Map (click here or on map to see larger, interactive version)

By Jim Ellis

March 28, 2022 — If the upcoming Alaska special election isn’t complex enough, with the top-four jungle primary feature complete with Ranked Choice Voting that will be used to replace the late at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), the developing situation in Texas may be even more confusing.

A year ago March, five-term South Texas Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) announced that he would not seek re-election in 2022, becoming one of the first sitting incumbents to enter into lame duck status. Late last week Vela made public his intention to resign in the “next few weeks” in order to accept a position with the Akin Gump law firm.

Texas election law states that a vacancy in office must be filled at the next regular election, or earlier if the governor rules that an emergency exists. In a similar situation before the regular 2018 election, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called an emergency special election to immediately replace resigned GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold. Current Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) won his initial election as a result.

In the current political climate, with the country facing record inflation, sky-high energy prices, a border crisis, oil and gas production limitations as a matter of policy, and a hostile invasion in eastern Europe not seen since the days of Adolph Hitler in the pre-World War II period, the governor could easily claim that enough issues need addressing by a full Texas delegation. Therefore, he could justify calling an immediate special election.

If so, the situation becomes interesting. The winner of Rep. Vela’s 34th District open Democratic primary on March 1 was sitting 15th District Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen). He is seeking re-election in the 34th with Rep. Vela’s endorsement instead of in his original district that is trending more Republican. Therefore, if a special election is held prior to the regular election, Rep. Gonzalez would have to resign his 15th CD seat upon winning the subsequent election, thus creating another short-term vacancy.

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