Tag Archives: Florida

Weekly Redistricting Update

Significant redistricting action occurred in the following six states during the past week:

CONNECTICUT (current delegation: 5D) – The Connecticut state Supreme Court adopted the “least-change” map it ordered their special master to construct. The new congressional plan cements the Democrats’ 5-0 advantage in the delegation.

FLORIDA (current delegation: 19R-6D; gains two seats) – With the new congressional map awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) signature, Florida law mandates that the state Supreme Court approve all district maps, and the high court already has announced a hearing schedule. The state will present its legal arguments regarding the congressional and legislative maps on Feb. 2. The Supreme Court must either approve the maps or send them back to the legislature for re-drawing purposes. If the re-map fails to pass legal muster, then the Court itself can re-draw the plans. Under Florida law, the governor does not approve or reject the state House and Senate maps. Upon passage, those go to the Florida attorney general who then presents them directly to the Supreme Court. This process has already occurred, hence the Court’s action in announcing the hearing schedule. Under the congressional plan, it appears that the Republicans will have 14 seats that can be considered safe to the Democrats’ eight. At the very least, this map will yield a Democratic gain of two seats.

KANSAS (current delegation: 4R) – The state House, over the objection of the body’s most conservative members, passed the congressional map and sent it to the state Senate. The main sticking point was moving the Democratic city of Lawrence, home of Kansas University, wholly within the 2nd District (Rep. Lynn Jenkins-R). It is unclear if the Senate will accept the map. Because of the change, the 2nd will become more Democratic, but freshman Rep. Kevin Yoder’s 3rd District gets a bit more Republican. Chances remain strong that the GOP will hold all four of the districts. Should the Senate fail to concur, the process will head to court if the legislative session ends without agreement.

KENTUCKY (current delegation: 4R-2D) – Both houses of the Kentucky legislature passed an incumbent protection map that will likely re-elect the state’s five incumbents standing for re-election (3R-2D) and give the Republicans the inside track to holding retiring GOP Rep. Geoff Davis’ 4th District. The map is basically a “least-change” plan, with no district gaining more than a 1.5% partisan boost for either Democrats or Republicans.

RHODE ISLAND (current delegation: 2D) – Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) signed the redistricting bill the Democratic legislature sent him last week. The plan increases freshman Rep. David Cicilline’s (D) Democratic voting base. Thus, by process of elimination, Rep. Jim Langevin’s seat becomes a bit more Republican. Both districts, however, will likely continue to send Democrats to Washington for the rest of the decade.

VIRGINIA (current delegation: 8R-3D) – It appears likely that the Virginia primary will move. In order to give the state more time to handle the upcoming litigation over the recently passed congressional map, the state House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly to move the congressional primary from June 12 to Aug. 7. The Senate is expected to quickly follow suit. The state’s presidential primary will continue to be held on Super Tuesday, March 6.

Florida Rep. Mica Switches Districts

The Florida congressional redistricting map still awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) signature and certain litigation before the Florida Supreme Court, but that hasn’t stopped members and candidates from making political moves. Even though the redistricting process is far from complete, the fact that many are already making moves signifies that they believe this is the footprint for most of the state. Such is the case for Reps. John Mica (R-FL-7) and Sandy Adams (R-FL-24). The new map placed both incumbents homes in the same district, new District 7, a north Orlando suburban seat that has swing characteristics.

But the map is almost certain to change. The high court, known as one of the more liberal judicial panels in the country, must reconcile the differences between the ballot initiative that Florida voters passed in 2010 and the Voting Rights Act. Contradictions exist between the two legal directives mandated to drawing the Florida districts.

Mr. Mica’s decision to run in CD 7, as he announced he would do late last week, is a curious one. The new 6th District actually contains more of his current northeast coastal seat and has a better Republican voting base. He could easily run there and avoid the incumbent pairing. Ms. Adams even indicated that Mica told her he would do just that when the maps were originally released.

Additionally, the decision is more questionable because the voting history of the new 7th indicates that this seat could become competitive in the general election. Therefore, even if Mica secures the Republican nomination over Adams, he could still face a strong battle in November.

President Obama scored 49 percent here in 2008, though Republicans rebounded strongly in 2010. Gov. Scott posted 51 percent and Sen. Marco Rubio (R) recorded 56 percent within the confines of the new district boundaries. The seat is a combined 29 percent minority (African-Americans and Hispanics). By contrast, John McCain scored a 53-45 percent win in District 6 and Gov. Scott topped 55 percent. Additionally, Mica currently represents 72 percent of FL-6 as compared to just 42 percent of District 7. Adams represents 51 percent of the new FL-7.

Since the Florida map could still change significantly, it remains to be seen if this pairing actually comes to fruition, but the wisdom in forcing the confrontation will continue to be questioned.

Analyzing the Turnout

There have been several media stories and reports this week discussing the alleged downward voter turnout trend in the Republican presidential primaries. As so often is the case with modern-day political reporting, the supposition doesn’t hold water. While true that turnout was down in Florida, Minnesota and Missouri this past Tuesday night, voter participation has actually increased in several other states.

Turnout was mixed on Tuesday. It was up 17.3 percent in Colorado as compared to the 2008 official results, but down 23.9 percent in Minnesota. Voter participation dropped 57.2 percent in Missouri, but that was expected because the primary had no real meaning. Four years ago, the Missouri primary was an important winner-take-all contest. This year the primary vote was merely a straw poll, and the true turnout will be measured once the county caucus votes are cast on March 17.

Overall, the 2012 Republican presidential primary/caucus turnout has increased in four states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Colorado) and dropped in an equal number (Florida, Nevada, Minnesota, and Missouri). The 14.2 percent drop in Florida might be the most surprising voter participation figure since many believed the state would cast the deciding votes to effectively end the entire nomination process. South Carolina, in similar position when voters in that state cast ballots just 10 days before Florida, saw a 35.5 percent gain in turnout as compared to four years ago.

Weekly Redistricting Update

Significant redistricting action occurred in the following six states during the past week:

FLORIDA (current delegation: 19R-6D; gains two seats) – The state House of Representatives passed their congressional map during this past week. The legislation now goes to the Senate. Though the congressional members and potential candidates are making political moves expecting the House-passed map to be the point of legal deference, such is not abundantly clear. The Senate-passed map is noticeably different from the House version, so it is certainly possible the two maps will endure a significant conference process. Gov. Rick Scott (R) will undoubtedly sign the eventual legislative produced plan into law but the Florida Supreme Court will have the last word. The legal differences between the voter-passed redistricting initiative and the Voting Rights Act are substantial, so the high court involvement is inevitable.

Considering this background, several political announcements were made, nonetheless. As stated last week, Rep. Allen West (R-FL-22) received the worst draw of any incumbent, as his home was placed in a heavily Democratic new 22nd District. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL-16), however, announced that he will run in new District 17, a safe Republican seat of which he represents a large portion but not his home political base. His decision opens marginal District 18 for West. Following Rooney’s lead, Mr. West announced he will run in District 18.

Turning to the northern part of the state, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL-6) is faced with a decision. He can run in new District 3, a safe Republican seat that travels from the northern Orlando suburbs all the way to the Georgia border but fails to include the congressman’s home or political power base. His second option would be to run in new District 11, but this would mean an intra-party pairing with freshman Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL-5).

Overall, in a good Republican year, this map looks to yield a 19R-8D partisan split, meaning the Democrats would gain two seats (the aforementioned District 22 and new District 9 in the south Orlando suburbs). It is likely the state Supreme Court, known for being a liberal body, will tilt the map in greater favor of the Democrats. The Florida redistricting process, one of the most important in the nation, still has a very long way to go before a legal map is finally instituted. The candidate filing deadline is June 8; the primary will be held Aug. 14.

KENTUCKY (current delegation: 4R-2D) – The Kentucky candidate filing deadline has passed (Jan. 31) yet the legislature has still not taken final action regarding adopting a new congressional map. If an agreement cannot be reached this week, the process will clearly be forced into the courts. Obviously, the candidate filing deadline is indefinitely postponed. The Kentucky primary is scheduled for May 22.

MISSOURI (current delegation: 6R-3D; loses one seat) – The redistricting trial ended with the state court upholding the legislature’s congressional map. The court had raised a question regarding the compactness of the 5th Congressional District (Rep. Emanuel Cleaver-D), but ruled that the draw does pass legal muster. This completes the Missouri process, pending appeal. The plaintiffs, backed by Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO-3) whose district was collapsed because the state lost a seat in reapportionment, say they will appeal the lower court ruling.

RHODE ISLAND (current delegation: 2D) – The state legislature has passed the Rhode Island congressional map and sent the legislation to Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) for his signature. The plan improves freshman Rep. David Cicilline’s (D) district, from his perspective, by taking Democrats from Rep. Jim Langevin’s (D) 2nd CD. Thus, the Langevin seat becomes a bit more Republican but both districts will likely continue to send Democrats to Washington for the rest of the decade.

TEXAS (current delegation: 23R-9D; gains four seats) – Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) publicly announced that the state and the plaintiffs have reached an agreement on a compromise map to present to the federal three judge panel tasked with drawing at least an interim congressional map. The DC District of Court of Appeals, currently considering the pre-clearance issues on the state-passed map, issued a statement that no ruling would be forthcoming during the current 30 day period. This makes the three-judge panel responsible for breaking the logjam, at least on an interim basis for the 2012 election. The panel of judges told the plaintiffs and state to find a solution in order to prevent the April 3 primary from being moved again.

Almost immediately after Abbott’s announcement, the key plaintiffs, including representatives for the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, and the NAACP, all said they have not agreed to support the Abbott compromise map. It is clear this process still has a long way to go. Chances are strong that the April 3 primary will again be moved.

WASHINGTON (current delegation: 5D-4R; gains one seat) – The state legislature made only cosmetic changes to the Washington State Redistricting Commission’s approved congressional maps. The commission is charged with drawing and passing a map, but the legislature can make changes, or reject a plan, with two-thirds vote of both houses. The action concludes the Washington process. All eight of the nine incumbents running for re-election (Rep. Jay Inslee, D-WA-1, is running for governor) have a winnable seat in which to seek re-election. The new 10th District in the Olympia area will go to the Democrats. Inslee’s open 1st District actually becomes competitive in exchange for making Rep. Rick Larson’s (D) 2nd District safer.

Santorum Sweeps Three; Faces Challenges Ahead

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum swept the voting last night at the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses and in the non-binding Missouri primary. With his victories, the upstart presidential candidate has now won more states (four) than any other candidate, despite spending far less money.

Finally rebounding after his surprising Iowa win but subsequently followed with poor performances in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada, Santorum topped former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 40-35 percent in Colorado, and won by a whopping 55-25 percent margin in Missouri. In Minnesota, he defeated Rep. Ron Paul 45-27 percent, as Romney could only manage 17 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich continues to fall. He performed poorly in Colorado (13 percent) and Minnesota (11 percent) last night, and failed to even qualify for the Missouri primary ballot.

The Missouri vote carried no delegate allocation. This will occur in county caucus meetings beginning March 17. In 2008, the state hosted a winner-take-all primary. The process also continues both in Colorado and Minnesota where delegates are formally apportioned at the district and state conventions later this year.

Looking at the unofficial delegate count after the first seven states to allocate (including Colorado and Minnesota), Romney has 99 delegates, Gingrich 41 (thanks to his South Carolina victory where he gathered 23 of 25 available votes), Santorum 39, and Paul 28. A candidate needs 1,144 delegate votes to secure the nomination, so only 9 percent of the total delegate pool has so far been apportioned. With his strong performance in Missouri, Santorum is in the best position to secure the majority of the state’s 52 delegates when the allocation process begins next month.

Are last night’s results an indication that Santorum can seriously challenge Romney for the nomination? It will still be difficult for him to do so, despite being in reach in the early delegate count. He will likely need to top Romney in Arizona on Feb. 28, because the former Michigan resident will likely win that state on the same day, do well on Super Tuesday (March 6), and hope he can score big later in his home state of Pennsylvania (72 delegates at stake) and conservative Texas (155). He will also have to hold his own in the remaining big northeastern states such as New York and New Jersey.

Scoring victories among some of the 10 Super Tuesday states is a necessity. The downside for Santorum on that day is Romney’s home state of Massachusetts, which is among the voting states, as is Gingrich’s Georgia. And remember, Santorum failed to qualify for the Virginia ballot. So, Ohio, with its 66 delegates becomes critically important for the Santorum cause. He will also need to do well in the Alaska, North Dakota and Idaho caucuses, as well as capturing the Oklahoma (43 delegates) and Tennessee (58) primaries.