Two Veteran Democrats to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Democratic Reps. David Price (D-NC) , left, and Mike Doyle (D-PA)

Oct. 20, 2021 — Democratic Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) announced Monday that they are not seeking re-election in 2022. Combined, the two will have served 62 years in the House once the current congressional session adjourns.

David Price was first elected to his Raleigh, North Carolina area seat in 1986, but lost in the 1994 Republican landslide. He regained the seat two years later, and hasn’t faced a serious challenge since. He will be 82 years old before the next election.

Pennsylvania Democarat Doyle, ironically, first won his seat in the 1994 Republican landslide year, coming to Washington as one of the few freshmen Democrats of that election year. He has not been seriously challenged since, and will be 69 years old before the 2022 election.

Reps. Price and Doyle are now the ninth and tenth sitting Democrats who will not be on the ballot in the 2022 House election cycle. Republicans have eight such members. Adding the seven new seats created in reapportionment, the aggregate open seat total is currently 25. This number does not count the three seats — OH-11, OH-15, and FL-20 — that are currently in special election cycles and will have new incumbents before the next regular voting period.

The Price and Doyle districts are likely to remain in Democratic hands, but the retirements likely affect their state’s redistricting plans. North Carolina has released a map that would have given Rep. Price one of four safe Democratic seats in his state’s delegation, while the Pennsylvania legislative leadership has yet to release a draft map.

Whether Rep. Price’s retirement will spur adjustments on the Republican-drawn map remains to be seen, but it is likely that at least four safe Democratic seats will remain in what will be a 14-seat delegation since the Tar Heel State gained a district in reapportionment.

The Pennsylvania situation is exactly opposite that of North Carolina as it loses a district in reapportionment. With Rep. Doyle and neighboring Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) now being the only two members of the state delegation so far not to seek re-election, the Pittsburgh area becomes the prime location to absorb the seat loss.

In looking at the state, all of its 18 congressional districts are short on population, hence the reason for losing the seat. The population shortfall is accentuated in Pennsylvania’s western sector.

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Illinois Redistricting Map Released

By Jim Ellis

The new Illinois redistricting plan, featuring 17 new districts that twist, turn, and meander throughout the state.

Oct. 19, 2021 — It had been speculated that the Illinois Democrats were attempting to draw a new congressional map to reduce the state’s Republican contingent from five members to three. The new plan, featuring 17 new districts that twist, turn, and meander throughout the state, appears to accomplish their goal.

Democratic leaders from the House and Senate Redistricting committees defend their actions, saying the plan is “designed to comply with federal law and ensure the broad diversity of the state is reflected in the elected officials sent to represent Illinois in Washington, D.C.” The map must still clear both houses of the Illinois legislature and obtain Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) signature before becoming law but with Democrats holding big partisan majorities, enactment seems certain.

Republicans and even some analytical observers say the map is a blatant partisan gerrymander designed to net the Democrats three seats nationally. Under this plan, 14 at least “lean Democratic” districts are created opposite three Republicans. The current map stands at 13D-5R, but Illinois loses a congressional seat in reapportionment.

Therefore, if the map performs as designed, the Republicans will be down a net three seats nationally because the Democrats would convert two GOP districts while the latter party absorbs the loss of the 18th seat that went to another state.

A potential legal problem, in addition to a political gerrymandering lawsuit, is the lack of drawing a second Hispanic seat in Chicago, and the Mexican American Legal Defense Foundation (MALDEF) is reportedly poised to file suit. As was the case in the last decade, the demographic numbers appear high enough for Hispanics to have two seats within Chicago. Such a second seat was not drawn in 2011, and it is again not created on this map, but the black majority seats are reinforced.

One of the re-draw’s top targets is Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon). His current 16th District is divided into several parts in an effort to sustain the marginal Democratic district that Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) is relinquishing in western Illinois, and help strengthen Rep. Lauren Underwood’s (D-Naperville) district in the Chicago metro area. Under the current map, Underwood won a second term with just a 51-49 percent margin.

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Michigan’s Redistricting Complexities

One of the draft Congressional maps put forward by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission for public review this week.

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 18, 2021 — In this redistricting cycle’s early going, one state appears to be adopting a unique map-drawing approach, and its design likely assures a long and challenging legal process to follow.

The 13-member Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has drafted 10 maps of the congressional, state Senate, and state House maps and made them available for public testimony and comments at a series of upcoming public hearings. Within the series, four relate to the congressional boundaries with the remaining six being divided evenly between the state Senate and House.

The multiple congressional maps go in several different geographical directions and radically alter the state’s district layout to the point of even changing the entire numbering system.

It appears the basis could be in place for many lawsuits and possibly from people or organizations associated with both parties, since the final version will likely draw complaints from both Republicans and Democrats. This would be particularly true if the final map collapses a Voting Rights Act minority district as one version features.

While four draft maps were released, the congressional plan base outline seems to be in place. Remember that Michigan will lose one congressional seat, reducing the delegation size to 13 members, and we will inevitably see at least one pairing of incumbents. At this point, no sitting member has indicated that he or she will retire.

The map versions suggest several options for the Detroit metro area; for example, meaning Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), and Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) could all find themselves in some type of a paired situation.

Looking at what little partisan political numbers are available, most of the maps point to the Democrats gaining a net of one seat, but some of the districts would be competitive to the degree of making the final outcome unclear.

Below is a synopsis of where each current member could land:

• District 1: Rep. Jack Bergman (R) – looks to receive a strongly Republican northern Michigan seat bordering Canada from the upper peninsula that will drop even further into the lower peninsula. Labeled District 12.

• District 2: Rep. Bill Huizenga (R) – could be in a paired situation with either Reps. Fred Upton (R) or John Moolenaar (R), as the commissioners take his current 2nd District to the southeast instead of due east or north as expected. The primary winner would get a safe Republican district. Labeled District 9, though Huizenga could run in a new District 13 in a potential pairing with Moolenaar.

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Impeachment Republicans’ Trouble

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump

Oct. 15, 2021 — As we know, 10 House Republicans voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 US Capitol controversy and now it appears that the nine running for re-election are currently facing a bumpy political road.

Reports have surfaced in the political media that identify billionaire Peter Thiel, a Trump supporter, as contributing to the campaigns of the Trump-endorsed candidate opposing at least two of the Impeachment Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA). The big question is whether Thiel and other like-minded mega donors will fund Super PAC efforts against the House incumbents who supported the impeachment resolution.

Already, Thiel is reportedly committing $10 million to a Super PAC supporting Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters. He faces a credible field in the GOP primary, including Attorney General Mark Brnovich, solar company owner Jim Lamon, retired Arizona National Guard Adjutant General Mick McGuire, and State Corporation Commission member Justin Olson.

It is unknown whether Thiel will put that type of money behind the Trump endorsed House candidates trying to deny the impeachment Republicans re-nomination, but he has made the maximum campaign contribution to at least two of the contenders, Harriet Hageman, who is opposing Rep. Cheney, and retired Army officer Joe Kent, Rep. Herrera Beutler’s GOP challenger.

Let’s look at how the 10 are currently faring in their re-election efforts:

• CA-21 – Rep. David Valadao: With California’s top-two qualifying system there are effectively no Republican or Democratic primaries. The candidates finishing first and second from the June primary will advance into the general election regardless of party affiliation. There is little chance of denying Rep. Valadao one of the two finalist positions, but he will face a difficult general election campaign irrespective of the Trump-backed efforts.

• IL-16 – Rep. Adam Kinzinger: Reports suggest that the Democratic state legislative leadership is attempting to collapse Rep. Kinzinger’s seat since Illinois loses a seat in reapportionment. He faces a multi-candidate Republican field, but the redistricting lines will be the biggest factor in whether or not Rep. Kinzinger continues his congressional career. The situation won’t be fully known until the redistricting plan is formally introduced and passed into law.

• MI-3 – Rep. Peter Meijer: Freshman Rep. Meijer may have the most favorable situation of all the impeachment Republicans. While he does have primary opposition, none of the candidates appear particularly formidable. Additionally, the preliminary redistricting maps suggest that while Meijer’s district will significantly change, he will still have a Republican seat anchored in Grand Rapids. Adding the city of Kalamazoo would make re-election more competitive, but the overall district would still favor a Republican nominee in most instances.

• MI-6 – Rep. Fred Upton: Multiple Republican candidates have surfaced against Rep. Upton, but his bigger problem may be redistricting. The Michigan Independent Citizens Commission has released four draft maps, and all pair Rep. Upton with another Republican incumbent, either Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) or John Moolenaar (R-Midland).

Though Trump has endorsed state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Kalamazoo), Upton’s bigger problem would likely be facing another incumbent. It is also possible that Carra finds himself placed in another district.

• NY-24 – Rep. John Katko: Like Rep. Upton, Katko’s biggest re-election problem appears to be redistricting and not the two Republicans who have announced against him. Though the New York preliminary congressional redistricting map has not yet been released, it appears the Democratic leadership is looking to take as many as five of the eight Republican seats away from the GOP.

This very likely means that Rep. Katko would find himself paired with another Republican incumbent, even potentially House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik. Redistricting will likely be the key factor in whether or not Rep. Katko returns to Congress after the next election.

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Rep. John Yarmuth to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Louisville)

Oct. 14, 2021 — In a video to his supporters and beginning with the phrase “it’s been an incredible journey since my first campaign in 2006 until now …” Kentucky US Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Louisville), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, announced Tuesday that he will not seek a 9th term in Congress next year.

Yarmuth indicated that he never intended to spend 16 years in Washington, figuring he would retire after five terms, but at the age of 75, with his birthday just before the next election, the veteran congressman indicated it is time to return to Louisville and begin enjoying retirement. He committed to vigorously serving the remainder of the current term.

Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District is fully contained within Jefferson County and hosts the state’s largest city of Louisville. Under the 2020 census numbers, the 3rd only needs to shed 5,879 residents, suggesting that the district will remain largely intact after redistricting. The Kentucky legislature is again expected to draw a 5R-1D congressional map designed to hold for the ensuing decade.

The 3rd is Kentucky’s lone Democratic congressional seat, and returned a 60-38 percent margin for President Biden last November. Hillary Clinton recorded a 55-40 percent spread against then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016, and President Obama posted a 56-43 percent mark against Mitt Romney back in 2012, the first election under the current district lines.

Yarmuth came to the House in 2006, scoring an upset win over then-Rep. Anne Northup (R) in a much different and more competitive 3rd District. He unseated her with a close 51-48 percent margin in what proved to be a strong Democratic election year. Northup returned for a re-match in 2008, but Yarmuth easily won that contest with a 59-41 percent victory margin in the first Obama election year.

In the course of his seven re-election campaigns, Rep. Yarmuth averaged 61.4 percent of the vote and was never a targeted Democratic incumbent. He assumed the chairmanship of the Budget Committee in 2019.

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