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.