Redistricting action occurred in the following six states during the past week:
MAINE (current delegation: 2D) – Gov. Paul LePage (R) signed the compromise congressional map that makes only minimal changes in the existing plan. The city of Waterville switches to the 1st District from the 2nd, and other cosmetic changes comprise the recorded alterations. Even though Republicans control the entire legislative process, redistricting legislation requires a two-thirds vote of both chambers. Therefore, the “no-change compromise” map was adopted to avoid a protracted court battle. Democrats will retain both seats.
MARYLAND (current delegation: 6D-2R) – As we move closer to seeing a map proposal coming from the Democratically controlled legislature, rumors continue to fly. Last week, it appeared that the Dem leaders were going to carve up Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s (R) 6th District but allow the GOP 1st District to stand. Now, it seems an effort is being made to draw an 8D-0R map, which means breaking up both Republican seats into multiple parts. Though the Eastern Shore would reportedly remain intact in CD 1, more Democratic Western Shore areas in and around the Annapolis area will be added. The proposed plan will soon be made public. Democrats control the entire process, so it is likely they will try for the 8-0 sweep.
NEW YORK (current delegation: 21D-8R; loses two seats) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has repeatedly said he would only sign a redistricting plan that was developed by an independent commission that he wanted the legislature to create. Now, he is sending signals that he would be open to a bi-partisan legislative compromise. He made statements to the media this week that he feels a court-drawn map would not be in the common interest of the New York citizenry. Expect the New York map to be one of the last enacted plans.
OHIO (current delegation: 13R-5D; loses two seats) – Gov. John Kasich (R) signed the legislation creating the new congressional redistricting plan. The map is designed to elect 12 Republicans and four Democrats, creating a new Columbus D seat and pairing the remaining minority party members together. Republicans Mike Turner (R-OH-3) and Steve Austria (R-OH-7) are also paired in the new 10th District. Ohio is now the 20th state to enact its congressional redistricting plan.
Fifteen maps are now law, with five more still before the Justice Department awaiting preclearance. Another four states await court action as their legislative process resulted in deadlock. The five remaining independent commissions will likely complete their combined work by early next year at the latest. So will at least two other states. This leaves a dozen late primary states to complete their processes next year. Congressional redistricting must occur in the 43 states that have more than one seat in the House of Representatives.
TEXAS (current delegation: 23R-9D; gains four seats) – As predicted by many, the new Texas congressional and state House maps will not likely pass the legal test. The San Antonio court hearing the consolidated lawsuits just indicated that it will draw an interim map while the legal process continues. This means a different map than enacted will now almost assuredly be inserted for the 2012 elections. The court has asked all parties to make their submissions for a replacement map by October 17th. The 2012 candidate filing period for the March primary begins on Nov. 17, so a new 36-district plan must be in place by at least that time. The Republican-enacted map appears to be a 26R-10D map.
Expect the court to draw a plan more favorable to the Democrats. Texas by-passed the Department of Justice and filed their preclearance submission with the District of Columbia Federal District Court. Since no decision has yet been rendered, the entire map can be re-drawn by the court of jurisdiction and not just the legally affected regions. Lawsuits were originally filed on minority group issues in and around the San Antonio-Austin area.
UTAH (current delegation: 2R-1D; gains one seat) – The appointed redistricting committee passed a plan to be considered in the special legislative beginning this week in Salt Lake City. The committee developed a map that could easily give the GOP a 4-0 sweep of the next delegation, a group that reapportionment increases by one member from its current three-seat configuration. Apparently Gov. Gary Herbert (R) is not particularly receptive to this plan, however, as he has made public statements reiterating his desire for a “fair” plan. Most interpret his statements to mean that he does not consider the legislative starting point to be acceptable.
His motives may not be purely altruistic, however. Without a district in which to run, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT-2), a long-time proven vote-getter in an overwhelmingly Republican congressional district during the last decade, would then be free to run statewide. The congressman says he will be on the 2012 ballot, but he has yet to decide for which office. He has not ruled out a run against Herbert or opposing Sen. Orrin Hatch (R). In reacting to the new map, Matheson was quoted as saying he could run in the new 2nd District or even in the new 4th CD, which is designed to occupy part of the Salt Lake City region in the center of the state. The Utah plan, with its many political sub-plots, continues to be one of the more interesting situations to observe. Expect the process to culminate within the next two weeks.