Tag Archives: gerrymander

Trump Now Supports Florida Rep. Lee; Florida State Rep. Leaves Race; McGuire Declares Victory in VA-5;

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, June 20, 2024

House

FL-15 Rep. Laurel Lee

FL-15: Trump Reverses Course Regarding Rep. Lee — In April, former President Donald Trump called upon his political support base to field a Republican primary candidate against freshman Rep. Laurel Lee (R-Tampa) in what is the most competitive of the Florida Republican-held congressional seats. Lee, who Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed as secretary of state before her election to the US House, endorsed DeSantis as the Republican candidate for president, not Trump, which caused Trump to originally target her for defeat.

No strong challenger to Lee came forward, however, although one — James Judge, who ran in the 14th District in 2022 — decided to hop into the race against Rep. Lee when Trump made his statement. Therefore, with the lack of a credible developing challenge against Rep. Lee, Trump has now given his “complete and total endorsement” to the congresswoman. Rep. Lee looks to be in strong position for renomination and for re-election, though she faces a credible Democratic challenger in the person of Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp in a 15th District that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+7.

FL-11: Ex-State Rep. Abandons Primary Challenge — Former Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who was defeated for the Republican nomination two years ago in the 7th CD (Rep. Cory Mills-R) and had subsequently launched a Republican primary challenge to Rep. Dan Webster (R-Clermont) in the state’s 11th District almost a year ago, now drops his bid.

Instead, Sabatini will run for a local county commissioner position. Remaining in the primary against Rep. Webster is geophysicist John McCloy. Without Sabatini in the race, Rep. Webster should have an easy run in the Aug. 20 primary, and in the general election.

VA-5: McGuire Declares Victory — Though the race has not been officially finalized, it does appear that Rep. Bob Good (R-Lynchburg) has been defeated for renomination. His opponent, state Sen. John McGuire (R-Manakin Sabot), thinks so and has publicly declared victory. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, all the outstanding votes have now been counted and McGuire has a 309-vote lead. With only provisional and overseas ballots left to be received and counted, it is highly unlikely that even this small lead can be overcome.

Once final, Rep. Good will be the first 2024 cycle incumbent of either party to lose renomination to a non-incumbent challenger. The only other incumbent defeat in either the Senate or the House occurred in Alabama when Reps. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) and Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) were paired in a court ordered redistricting plan. Moore scored a 52-48 percent victory on March 5. Other primary defeats may soon follow, however. On Tuesday, Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and Celeste Maloy (R-UT) face serious primary challenges, and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) attempts to win renomination from a new congressional district.

Michigan Senate Candidate Switches Races; New Mexico Redistricting Appeal; Replacement Nominee for NY-26; How Governors Rank

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023

Senate

Michigan State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh (D)

Michigan: Democratic Senate Candidate Switches Races — Michigan State Board of Education president Pamela Pugh, who was facing an uphill Democratic US Senate primary against US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), exited the statewide campaign and on Monday declared for the now open 8th Congressional District race. Last week, six-term US Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township) announced that he will not seek re-election next year. Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley (D), a former state representative, is also expected to join the party primary.

The 8th District is politically marginal. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+1, but Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 51.0D – 46.1R. President Joe Biden carried the district with a slight 50.3 – 48.2 percent margin. Therefore, both parties can expect to see competitive nomination battles and a toss-up general election.

House

New Mexico: State Supreme Court Rejects GOP Redistricting Appeal — The New Mexico state Supreme Court unsurprisingly unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that concluded the state’s congressional map did not constitute and “egregious gerrymander.” Therefore, the current map will stand for the remainder of the decade.

The courts sited the closeness of the 2022 District 2 election that saw Democratic local official Gabe Vasquez unseat freshman Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell by less than a percentage point (1,350 votes) from just under 193,000 cast ballots. Herrell is returning for a rematch next year, which is again expected to be close.

NY-26: One Man May Pick the Next Congressman — With 10-term Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) announcing that he will resign during the first week of February to run a civic organization back in Buffalo, speculation is churning as to who will replace the outgoing congressman. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will calendar a special election after the resignation is official, and then the party county chairmen will choose their nominees.

New York’s 26th District is comprised of parts of two counties, Erie and Niagara, and since the district is heavily Democratic (FiveThirtyEight rates the seat as D+18; the Daily Kos Elections site ranks NY-26 as the 78th-most vulnerable seat within the Democratic Conference), one man will effectively have the power of anointing the next congressman.

Since 80 percent of the district lies in Erie County, that county’s Democratic party chairman will have a greater weighted say than the Niagara County chair. Odds appear strong that chairman Jeremy Zellner will choose Eric County Executive Mark Poloncarz as the party nominee. Poloncarz will then easily win the succeeding special election.

Governor

Morning Consult: New Approval Ratings Rank Governors Highly — Morning Consult released their quarterly report on the nation’s governors Monday, and again we see almost all state chief executives posting strong job approval ratios. As has been the case for the past couple of years, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) have the strongest ratings at 84:13 percent and 74:16 percent positive to negative, respectively.

All but seven governors reached at least the 50 percent approval mark and only one, Mississippi’s Tate Reeves (R), was slightly upside-down with a 45:46 percent index. Yet, he was just re-elected to a second four-year term at the beginning of the month.

The top 10 highly rated governors are: Scott and Gordon; Govs. Josh Green (D-HI), Chris Sununu (R-NH), Kay Ivey (R-AL), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Jared Polis (D-CO), Ned Lamont (D-CT), Jim Justice (R-WV), and Spencer Cox (R-UT). Those with the poorest ratings are Reeves and Govs. Tina Kotek (D-OR), Kim Reynolds (R-IA), John Bel Edwards (D-LA), Katie Hobbs (D-AZ), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Dan McKee (D-RI), Tony Evers (D-WI), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Mike Parson (R-MO).

Maine Sen. King, 80, to Seek Third Term; Illinois House News; Potential GOP Candidate in Washington

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, July 6, 2023

Senate

Sen. Angus King, Maine (I)

Maine: Independent Incumbent Will Seek Re-Election — Two-term Maine Sen. Angus King, who is elected as an Independent but caucuses with the Democrats, announced that he will seek a third term next year. It was expected that Sen. King, who will be 80 years old at the next election and a cancer survivor, would run again. Before his original election to the Senate in 2012, King served two terms as Maine’s governor. The senator is a prohibitive favorite to win re-election next year.

House

IL-12: Primary Challenge Brewing — Former state senator and 2022 Illinois gubernatorial Republican nominee Darren Bailey is hosting a major gathering where he is expected to announce that he will launch a Republican primary challenge to five-term Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro/Carbondale), the current chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

The challenge is a surprising one in that Rep. Bost is just as conservative as Bailey, so there will be little to draw contrast with him at least in terms of public policy. Because Illinois is so heavily gerrymandered, the 12th CD is one of three solidly Republican seats in the state. Therefore, the only threat to Rep. Bost comes in the GOP primary. Expect the congressman to win renomination and re-election next year. The Illinois primary is early, scheduled for March 19, 2024.

IL-17: Potential Candidacy Brewing — Former state Rep. Dan Brady (R), who represented a central Illinois seat in the state legislature for 20 years before running unsuccessfully for Secretary of State last November, is reportedly close to launching a congressional campaign against freshman Democratic US Rep. Eric Sorensen (D-Moline).

On the gerrymandered Illinois congressional map, the 17th appears to be the most competitive seat in the state. In November, Republican Esther Joy King held Sorensen to a 52-48 percent victory in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+4. The seat is shaped almost like a C, beginning in Rockford, and then swinging west to the Quad Cities area, before moving southeast and east through Galesburg and Peoria before ending in Bloomington. Rep. Sorensen will be favored for re-election, but this district could become highly competitive.

Governor

Washington: Ex-GOP Rep Looking at Governor’s Race — Former congressman and ex-King County Sheriff Dave Reichert (R), who served in the House from 2005 to the beginning of 2019, is reportedly exploring a bid for the open governor’s office. Reichert has looked at statewide office before but has not run. His chances of qualifying for the general election in the jungle primary would be good since he would likely corral the votes of what should be a united Republican Party behind him. In the general election, however, probably opposite Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D), he would be a distinct underdog.

RFK Jr. Moves Closer to Presidential Run; Gillibrand’s Ploy re: Cuomo; House Challengers; Pa. Replay?

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, March 15, 2023

President

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Files Presidential Committee — There has been much speculation that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will soon join the Democratic presidential campaign as an opponent to President Biden. Over the weekend, he took a definitive step toward becoming a candidate when officially filing a presidential exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission. This is typically the first step most individuals take before they formally enter a race.

Kennedy, much more conservative than the typical Democratic voter, is not expected to be a major obstacle for President Biden to overcome as the incumbent prepares to seek renomination.

Senate

New York: Sen. Gillibrand’s Fundraising Ploy — The Politics1 organization and other political media sites are running with a story saying that New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is telling donors that she is concerned ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo may challenge her in next year’s Democratic primary. She sites the fact that he has $9 million remaining in his gubernatorial campaign account, which is $4 million more than she reported on her year-end Federal Election Commission financial disclosure.

Sen. Gillibrand’s play in making these statements is largely a fundraising ploy to encourage liberal donors to support her campaign.

Even if Cuomo, who was forced to resign the governorship in 2021, challenged her, he would immediately begin as an underdog. Secondly, though he still may have approximately $9 million in his state campaign account, a combination of complicated state and federal election laws may not allow a full transfer of those funds into a US Senate campaign. Therefore, the idea of a Cuomo Senate challenge, at least at this time, should largely be discounted.

Pennsylvania: Here They Go Again — A new Public Policy Polling survey (March 9-10; 616 likely Pennsylvania Republican primary voters) finds state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Chambersburg), the 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee who proved non-competitive in the general election, again leading in a statewide Republican primary.

In a hypothetical US Senate nomination contest, PPP finds Sen. Mastriano topping 2022 candidate and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick and 2022 Senate candidate Kathy Barnette, 39-21-11 percent. If the race was a two-way between Mastriano and McCormick, the former would lead 42-28 percent. Should these numbers hold, such a primary result would again nullify any realistic chance Republicans have of upsetting Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) in November.

House

FL-25: Retired General Announces Against Rep. Wasserman Schultz — Weston City Commissioner Chris Eddy (R), a retired Air Force general and former FBI analyst, announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination with the hope of facing Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) in the general election. He first must get past 2022 nominee Carla Spalding, however.

The 25th District is reliably Democratic – FiveThirtyEight rates the seat D+18; Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 62.0D – 36.8R – which means the chances of scoring an upset here are slim. Still, Rep. Wasserman Schultz showed some weakness in the 2022 election against Spalding, winning only a 55-45 percent victory, which proved the closest of her 10 career congressional elections.

SC-1: Rep. Mace Challenger Emerges — Museum founder Michael Moore (D), a relative of Civil War figure Robert Smalls, announced that he will enter the Democratic primary to challenge two-term Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston).

There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding this race because earlier this year a South Carolina three-judge federal panel declared the 1st District an unconstitutional racial gerrymander district. This means, unless the SC ruling becomes moot when the US Supreme Court decides the related Alabama racial gerrymandering case, the district will be re-drawn.

A new version under the South Carolina judicial directive should make this seat more Democratic, but a considerable amount of time will likely elapse if and before the seat is reconfigured. Therefore, it is difficult to draw any current conclusions about the 2024 SC-1 campaign.

Electoral College — Left Coast, Right Coast; Republicans Choose Nominee in VA-4; North Carolina Supreme Court Rejects Map

Electoral College Votes Per State, 2022 — blue moving more left, red moving more right


By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022

President

Electoral College: West Moving Left, East Moving Right — The researchers at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics have completed a study regarding the country’s ideological shift during the past 20-plus years. Tracking all 50 states’ presidential votes from the 2000-2020 elections, we first see all of the western states now voting Democratic in greater percentages with the exception of Wyoming. The biggest shifts came in Alaska, California, Colorado, and Utah, though two of those four states still regularly produce at least smaller majority or plurality Republican victories.

Conversely, the south and east have trended more Republican with the strongest swings generally occurring in central south with only Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia becoming more Democratic. Mid-Atlantic states such as New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have moved decidedly more Republican, though two of these four continue to regularly deliver clear Democratic majorities. Remaining constant in their voting pattern during this entire 20-year span are Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and South Carolina.

House

VA-4: Republicans Choose Special Election Nominee — Republicans re-nominated their 2020 and 2022 candidate in the Saturday, Dec. 17 “firehouse primary” through Ranked Choice Voting. The local 4th District Republican Party leadership did not release the actual results, only to say that pastor and US Navy veteran Leon Benjamin had defeated former Mecklenburg School Board member Dale Sturdifen, and non-profit advocacy organization director Derrick Hollie. Benjamin now advances to the Feb. 21 special general election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond). He will again be a decided underdog in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+30.

The Democratic firehouse primary will be held today. Four candidates filed to run: state Sens. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Joseph Morrisey (D-Richmond), former state Delegate Joseph Preston, and businessman Tavorise Marks. While the special election will be held in late February, Gov. Glenn Younkin’s (R) call required the parties to choose nominees by Dec. 23.

In another development, Colette McEachin, the late congressman’s widow, announced her endorsement of Sen. McClellan, joining most of the Virginia Democratic establishment who has already done so.

States

North Carolina: NC Supreme Court Tosses State Senate Map — The North Carolina state Supreme Court, with the 4-3 Democratic majority on the cusp of expiring, rejected the NC Senate map on a partisan vote as a partisan gerrymander. But, the action is likely to be short-lived and adds fuel to the speculation that the new legislature will re-draw all of the state’s redistricting maps after commencement. Doing so may well render moot the partisan gerrymandering case that the US Supreme Court recently heard.

Under North Carolina legislative procedure, the governor has no veto power over redistricting legislation, so whatever the legislature passes will become law. Because of the current court’s farewell action, the state Senate map must be re-configured. Since Republicans gained two seats on the state Supreme Court in the November election and will have a 5-2 majority beginning in January, the likelihood of not only the Senate map being redrawn but also the state House and congressional delegation plans is greater. The latter two maps are court-drawn interim placeholders, which the legislature can replace at any time.

NY Overreach = GOP Majority

CNN’s New York state redistricting map (more coverage on CNN)

By Jim Ellis — Nov. 22, 2022

House

New York State: Redistricting — There is an argument to be made that the New York Democratic redistricting brain trust helped create the new Republican US House majority. With their over-reach on the original map that the legislature and governor enacted, the end result became so egregious that even the Democratic lower and upper courts rejected the congressional map as a pure partisan gerrymander.

The original enacted plan would have yielded a 22D-4R partisan split in the NY congressional delegation of 26 members, thus costing the Republicans four of the eight Empire State seats they control in the current Congress.

Once the votes were cast on Nov. 8 in the districts that the judges’ special master drew to replace the legislature’s plan, the end result saw Republicans not losing four seats but rather gaining three in relation to the current map and seven when compared to the Democrats’ original draw.

Therefore, instead of the intended 22D-4R plan, the New York delegation now headed to Washington is comprised of 15 Democrats and 11 Republicans. With a small Republican majority of what ultimately may be 220-222 seats once the outstanding California and Alaska races are finally projected, the NY swing is arguably the difference in determining which party controls the House.

The Democrats’ map would have reduced the Republicans to just one seat on Long Island, taken the lone district they have in New York City, turned the GOP’s Syracuse seat strongly Democratic, and collapsed the southwestern Upstate seat of resigned Rep. Tom Reed (R) as the lost district in national reapportionment.

You will remember that New York lost a congressional seat by just 89 people when the Census Bureau announced each state’s congressional district compilation under the national reapportionment formula.

After striking down the legislature’s map and replacing it with their own special master’s plan, the court in effect restored much of New York to its historic congressional district pattern.

Under the legislature’s plan, Long Island’s 1st District (Rep. Lee Zeldin) was drawn from the far eastern part of Suffolk County all the way into Queens. This led to stashing a preponderance of the region’s Republican voters in Rep. Andrew Garbarino’s (R-Sayville) South Shore 2nd District. The concept then allowed the map architects to make Districts 3 and 4, both open in 2022 with Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) running unsuccessfully for governor and Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) retiring, safely Democratic. The court undid this design.

Now, the 1st District returns to a Suffolk County anchored seat, a CD that Republican Nick LaLota, a former local official and Navy veteran, won to succeed Rep. Zeldin. Rep. Garbarino is back but with a less Republican South Shore seat, which then created a marginal North Shore District 3 seat that Republican George Santos won 54-46 percent in a domain that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+4.

The biggest surprise in New York, and perhaps the country, came in Rep. Rice’s open 4th CD, where Republican Anthony D’Esposito defeated heavily favored Democrat Laura Gillen, 52-48 percent, in a district that actually became more Democratic under the court map at D+10.

The other Republican gains came in the Hudson Valley, where state Assemblyman Mike Lawler (R-South Salem) upset Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) in a D+7 District 17, and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) rebounded from a special congressional election loss in August to claim a 51-49 percent win in a new 19th District rated as R+1.

In the 18th District, state Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R) came within a percentage point of sweeping the Hudson Valley seats for the GOP, but Rep. Pat Ryan (D-Gardiner) held onto the 18th CD seat after he had won the 19th District special election three months earlier.

The Republican victory string ended with tech executive Brandon Williams (R) defeating former intelligence officer Francis Conole (D) by a percentage point to hold the open Syracuse seat, and former New York Republican Party Nick Langworthy easily won the new 23rd District from which Rep. Reed resigned and Rep. Joe Sempolinski (R-Canisteo) is serving as a caretaker.

The New York 2022 election cycle illustrates just how important map drawing and judicial decisions are in determining US House elections. The New York courts, for example, created a much more competitive political playing field, which certainly led to different results than we would have seen under the legislature’s partisan draw.

Considering that the US Supreme Court is likely to make landmark Voting Rights Act rulings on the Alabama and North Carolina cases before June ends next year, we will likely see new redistricting maps being drawn in several states, and New York could be one of those places. Any newly constructed map would take effect in the 2024 election. A major Supreme Court decision will add yet another dimension to what already promises to be another hot House campaign cycle coming in the new term.

North Carolina Map Rejected

Rejected 2022 North Carolina Congressional Redistricting map (click on map above or here to go to an interactive map at DavesRedistricting.com)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 8, 2022 — In what has almost been a decade-long game of gerrymander ping pong, the state Supreme Court on Friday rejected the new North Carolina congressional and state legislative maps, thus repeating their actions from the two previous times the panel’s majority disqualified a Republican legislature’s map.

The vote was 4-3, with all four Democrats voting in favor of declaring the map a partisan gerrymander, consistent with their past action, while the three Republicans voted to uphold the plans.

We are again looking at a relatively quick re-draw situation because the twice-postponed North Carolina primary is now scheduled for June 7. If an agreement cannot be reached, it is possible the candidate filing deadline and statewide primary are again postponed.

The high court’s move was expected, but this is a serious setback to Republicans from a national perspective since North Carolina appears to be the only state where the party can gain multiple seats through redistricting.

It is likely that the inter-party pairing of Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) and Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) will be re-drawn when a new congressional version is passed. The Greensboro area has been the major focal point of this and the previous maps, with the partisan Republican legislature and partisan Democratic court continuing to battle over a map that will eventually become the state’s 2022 political playing field.

As drawn, the legislature’s map — under North Carolina law and procedure, the governor, in this case Democrat Roy Cooper, has no veto power over redistricting — would have returned either 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats or possibly has high as 11 Republicans and 3 Democrats. Under the current draw, the Republican advantage is 8-5.

North Carolina gained one seat under national reapportionment, and the last iteration of the state Supreme Court map, ordered before the 2020 election, resulted in the Republicans losing two seats, one in Raleigh and the other in the Greensboro area.

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