By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023
HouseSix States: Both Parties Affected — Court rulings in two congressional redistricting states will likely be handed down within the next few days, and another’s legislature will soon begin to redraw their current boundaries.
The Alabama special master is mandated to report to the three-judge panel that ordered the redraw during next month’s first week. The New Mexico state Supreme Court directed the assigned lower court in Roswell to report its decision during the first few days of October. The North Carolina legislature is going into special session during the first week of October to redraw their maps.
Today, we look at the situation in the first six states that may see another round of congressional redistricting, those from Alabama through New York. Tomorrow, we will look at the remaining five domains from North Carolina through Wisconsin.
• Alabama: The US Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the federal three-judge panel’s ruling that disqualified the legislature’s map means that the court-appointed special master will deliver a final map to the court on or around Oct. 3. The released three public options are similar.
All would pair Reps. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) and Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) in one southern Alabama district that would stretch the width of the state from Mississippi to Florida. A new majority minority 2nd District would then be created and anchored in Montgomery County. The end result will be a net gain of one seat for the Democrats.
• Florida: The lower court ruling declaring the Florida congressional map unconstitutional means the state will likely be forced to redraw the map at some future point. The state and the plaintiffs agreed the redraw would only affect the north Florida sector and concentrate on whether the former 5th CD, that previously stretched from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, will be reconstructed in some manner. The state is appealing the ruling, so we can count on seeing significant time elapse before this issue is decided.
The members’ districts most affected would be Reps. Neal Dunn (R-Panama City), Kat Cammack (R-Gainesville), and Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach). The Florida primary is not until Aug. 20, 2024, so enough time remains for the map to be redrawn before the next election. Other regional members could also be tangentially affected. The concluding outcome would likely be a net gain of one seat for the Democrats.
• Georgia: A lawsuit challenging the state’s 6th District (Rep. Richard McCormick; R-Suwanee), claims that the Atlanta metro area has been gerrymandered to deny African Americans another seat. This case will require very significant time to maneuver through the entire legal process. Therefore, it is probable that any final judicial decision will not come before the 2024 election.
• Louisiana: The Louisiana situation is similar to that of Alabama’s. SCOTUS’ Alabama decision could force a redraw here, too, but no action has yet been taken. The state elections, including the governor’s office, are scheduled for Oct. 14, with a runoff on Nov. 18 for the undecided races. Candidates securing majority support are elected outright in the first election. Therefore, no redistricting action will occur until well after the state elections are concluded, and likely after the first of next year.
Considering Louisiana’s unique election system that holds its first regular vote concurrent with the general election, plenty of time remains for a court to force a legislative redraw of the congressional lines, or eventually appoint a special master to make the changes. The most apparent vulnerable reconfiguration member is Rep. Julia Letlow (R-Start). Should a redraw occur before the 2024 election, the Democrats would likely gain one seat in this delegation.
• New Mexico: Republicans have filed suit here, claiming the map is a partisan gerrymander. The New Mexico state Supreme Court has directed the lower court in Roswell to render a decision this week — the first week of October. The ruling’s losing party will undoubtedly appeal to the state Supreme Court. If they decide a redraw is in order, expect it to happen before the 2024 election.
The New Mexico primary is scheduled for June 4, 2024, with a yet to be determined candidate filing deadline, though it will be sometime in February. A redraw would give the Republicans a better chance of regaining the state’s southern congressional seat.
• New York: Currently, the New York map is an interim court draw that the legislature, with input from an appointed commission, can replace. It is expected the Democratic legislature will make a move to draw a more favorable map. Last time, the legislature attempted to draw a 22D-4R map, but even the Democratic controlled courts ruled that such was a partisan gerrymander. Therefore, when they make boundary changes, the map drawers will likely be more cognizant of going too far since Republicans are sure to repeal.
Still, Democrats could make significant gains under a new map. Even under the current plan, a two-seat gain appears to be a minimum. It would not be surprising to see the Democrats convert three or four seats here in the coming 2024 election.