Tag Archives: New Mexico

Redistricting Update

Redistricting action occurred in the following nine states during the past week:

ARIZONA (current delegation: 5R-3D; gains one seat) – The members of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission say they expect to release congressional and legislative maps within the “next couple of weeks.” Once in the general domain, a series of public comment hearings over a 30-day period will then ensue, after which a final vote will be taken.

ILLINOIS (current delegation: 11R-7D; loses one seat) – Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2) and Bobby Rush (D-IL-1) appear to be dissatisfied with the congressional Democratic plan. Both are indicating that they may file a joint Voting Rights lawsuit against the plan, which would be a major occurrence since it is virtually unheard of for party members to attempt to legally overturn a map their own partisan colleagues promoted. Mr. Jackson may receive a primary challenge from former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11) because some of her previous district is now in the new 2nd CD.

MAINE (current delegation: 2D) – The Maine legislative special session, called for the purpose of redistricting the state’s political districts, begins today. Since all redistricting plans require a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers, expect a status quo congressional map for their two districts. This is especially likely because only 4,335 people need to move from the 1st to the 2nd District to meet the 2011 population quota.

MARYLAND (current delegation: 6D-2R) – New information is beginning to come forth about the Democratic-controlled legislature’s congressional plan. It does appear that the Ds will attempt to gain one seat through the process. Originally, the Republican target was expected to be Eastern Shore freshman Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD-1), but the numbers now suggest that 10-term Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD-6), now 85 years old, is the real victim. Mr. Bartlett’s proposed 6th District is decidedly Democratic. Under the suggested plan, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) received 56.9% of the vote in 2010 and President Obama claimed 63.1% two years earlier. Under the current lines, the 6th District voted for John McCain by a 58-40% margin, thus clearly showing how drastically the western region will change. Expect the Maryland plan to yield a new 7D-1R partisan division.

MISSOURI (current delegation: 6R-3D; loses one seat) – Plaintiffs being supported by the National Democratic Redistricting Trust, are suing to overturn the state’s new congressional map. They are pursuing grounds of compactness and partisan gerrymandering. This is a long shot case that will likely go nowhere. The Supreme Court has never declared any map a partisan gerrymander.

NEVADA (current delegation: 2R-1D; gains one seat) – The judge charged with drawing the de novo congressional map since the legislature and governor failed to enact a map before adjournment, stated that he wants to see a first draft from his appointed special master by Oct. 21 and is promising a final ruling on or before Nov. 15.

NEW MEXICO (current delegation: 2D-1R) – The Democratic legislature adjourned their special session without passing a congressional map, knowing that Gov. Susana Martinez (R) would veto any plan they might approve. They did send her plans for both houses of the legislature; maps she is pledging to veto. The congressional map now goes to court, where, as in Nevada, the judge must draw a de novo map.

OHIO (current delegation: 13R-5D; loses two seats) – Both houses of the Ohio legislature have passed the new congressional plan and sent it to Gov. John Kasich (R). The Democrats plan to mount an operation to overturn the map via ballot initiative. Gov. Kasich stated publicly that he will sign the plan into law.

UTAH (current delegation: 2R-1D; gains one seat) – The state legislature’s special redistricting committee has narrowed the congressional plan to six different versions. Their goal is to vote a final map out of committee by next Tuesday. The special legislative session called to consider the committee’s product will begin Oct. 4. The big question surrounds how the Republican legislators will treat Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT-2). Will they draw him a safe Salt Lake City seat and go 3R-1D, or try for a 4R-0D sweep? Of the six maps under consideration, only one features the Salt Lake City configuration.

Redistricting Update

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.

The House Open Seats

As we approach the midway point in the national redistricting process, it is a good time to check the status of the House open seats. Because reapportionment creates a dozen new seats, the incumbent-less district count is already 29. An average election cycle features about 35 open seats, although the last two elections have broken the 40 mark. Should the proposed maps in California and North Carolina pass, at least three more vacancies will be added to the 2012 total. And if Utah Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT-2) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-3) along with Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2) run statewide, as they are considering, then three more would be added.

To review, the following are the announced open seats:

AZ-6 Jeff Flake (R) Running for Senate
AZ-9 New Seat
CA-6 Lynn Woolsey (D) Retirement
CA-51 Bob Filner (D) Running for San Diego Mayor
CT-5 Chris Murphy (D) Running for Senate
FL-26 New Seat
FL-27 New Seat
GA-14 New Seat
HI-2 Mazie Hirono (D) Running for Senate
IN-2 Joe Donnelly (D) Running for Senate
IN-6 Mike Pence (R) Running for Governor
MO-2 Todd Akin (R) Running for Senate
MT-AL Denny Rehberg (R) Running for Senate
NV-1 Shelley Berkley (D) Running for Senate
NV-2 Vacant Rep. Dean Heller appointed to Senate
NV-4 New Seat
NM-1 Martin Heinrich (D) Running for Senate
NY-9 Vacant Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned
ND-AL Rick Berg (R) Running for Senate
OK-2 Dan Boren (D) Retirement
SC-7 New Seat
TX-14 Ron Paul (R) Running for President
TX-33 New Seat
TX-34 New Seat
TX-35 New Seat
TX-36 New Seat
UT-4 New Seat
WA-1 Jay Inslee (D) Running for Governor
WA-10 New Seat

Of the 29 open districts, 12 are new seats, nine current incumbents are running for Senate, two are running for governor, another pair are retiring from politics, one is seeking the U.S. Presidency, and one more is running for mayor of San Diego. Two members resigned their seats; one because of being appointed to the Senate; one due to scandal. Nine of the vacating incumbents are Democrats, six are Republicans. The two vacant seats split evenly, one from each party.

Most of the current seats will stay within the designated party control, but at least six (IN-2, Donnelly; MT-AL, Rehberg; NV-2, Vacant – special election Sept. 13; NM-1, Heinrich; OK-2, Boren; and TX-14, Paul) will likely join the competitive ranks.

With already a large number of open seats in the 2012 election cycle, it would not be surprising to see the total number approach 50 before filing closes in each of the states. Should this happen, added to the 97 members currently serving their first term, a full one-third of the House will have two terms of seniority or less in the next Congress.
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New Mexico Senate Primary Numbers

Public Policy Polling just released new data (June 23-26; 400 “usual” Republican primary voters; 400 “usual” Democratic voters) regarding the New Mexico Senate race. The firm surveyed both the Democratic and Republican primary elections, each of which is likely to be competitive.

For the Ds, two-term Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1) begins the Senatorial campaign with a 47-24 percent lead over state Auditor Hector Balderas (D) as the two battle for their party’s nomination. On the Republican side, former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1) has a similar 52-24 percent advantage over Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (R). Should these numbers hold up for the remainder of the primary cycle Heinrich and Wilson will square off in the general election in what could become a hotly contested campaign that attracts great national attention.

All of the major candidates in the Senatorial race have relatively strong favorability ratings as each contender has higher positive scores than negative. Five-term Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) is retiring, therefore creating the open seat.
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New Mexico Senate Poll Shows a Tight Race

Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of the New Mexico electorate (June 23-26; 732 registered New Mexico voters) regarding the open seat race to replace the retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D). The results show Democrats with a measurable advantage, but in a much tighter contest than recent New Mexico voting history would likely yield.

Turning to the ballot test questions, Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1), an announced Senatorial candidate, out-duels former 1st district Rep. and Senatorial candidate Heather Wilson (R) by just five percentage points, 47-42 percent. He leads Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (R) by a similar 45-39 percent. State Auditor Hector Banderas (D) scores in the same neighborhood as Heinrich against the two Republicans.

Interestingly, relating to job approval and personal popularity, the data shows the two Democratic candidate posting an average +5 points in positive territory, which are mediocre scores, while the two Republican contenders are upside down by the same margin.

The eventual Democratic nominee should win this open seat, but Republicans still have the ability of making Land of Enchantment statewide races close. The PPP numbers suggest this race could become highly competitive.
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Wisconsin’s Sen. Kohl To Retire

News reports breaking in Wisconsin say that Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) has scheduled a retirement announcement at noon Central time. If this proves accurate, Mr. Kohl will be the ninth Senator elected in 2006 not to seek re-election in 2012.

Open Seats – (8)
1. Arizona (Kyl-R)
2. Connecticut (Lieberman-I-D)
3. Hawaii (Akaka-D)
4. New Mexico (Bingaman-D)
5. North Dakota (Conrad-D)
6. Texas (Hutchison-R)
7. Virginia (Webb-D)
8. Wisconsin (Kohl-D)

Note: Nevada, which was on the open seat list is no longer so. Sen. John Ensign (R) resigned and has been replaced by Sen. Dean Heller (R), so this seat returns to the incumbent column.

Senate Update: One In, One Out

Two U.S. Senate announcements were made over the weekend. In New Mexico, Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1) released a video saying he is running for the retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s (D) open seat. One state to the west in Arizona, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ-2) also made an official announcement, but a much different one. He won’t run statewide next year.

Heinrich’s electronic release, featuring the congressman cooking a meal for his family in their home, emphasizes his commitment to working families and job creation. His decision to run statewide means the marginal 1st congressional district will become an open seat, and highly competitive battles are expected for both the Senate and the House.

Mr. Heinrich stating his political intentions early in the election cycle means the New Mexico map drawers (Democrats control the legislature; Republicans have the governor’s office) can radically change his congressional seat if they so desire. The Land of Enchantment, remaining constant with three U.S. House districts for the ensuing decade, normally features a Democratic northern district encompassing the capital city of Santa Fe (NM-3), and a more Republican southern seat (NM-2), again represented by Rep. Steve Pearce (R) after he vacated it in 2008 to run unsuccessfully for the Senate. The 1st, anchored in the state’s dominant Albuquerque metropolitan area, is politically marginal. Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) held the latter seat in the early part of the decade; Heinrich won it in 2008 (56-44%) and was re-elected 52-48% in 2010.

The Albuquerque congressman becomes the first Democrat to officially launch a campaign to succeed Sen. Bingaman, though state Auditor Hector Banderas says he will run. Ms. Wilson is announced for the Republican nomination and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (R) is also seriously considering running for the seat. The New Mexico Senate race has the potential of becoming one of the hottest campaigns in the country.

State Sen. Eric Griego (D) wasted no time in following Heinrich’s lead. He immediately formed a congressional exploratory committee for the newly opened 1st district, but stopped short of saying that he will run for sure.

In Arizona, the public announcement was different than predicted. It was believed that Rep. Franks would unveil his Senate plans this weekend, which he did, but most thought he would proclaim himself as an official statewide candidate. Instead, he did the opposite, saying, “I have sincerely concluded that mounting a Senate bid at this time would not be what is best for my family, nor what would best allow me to serve my country at this critical time in her history.” Therefore, Mr. Franks will not launch a Senatorial bid and looks to a House re-election campaign in what promises to be a much different 2nd district. Needing to shed 262,615 people, AZ-2 is the second-most over-populated congressional district in the nation.

Franks’ decision, at least for now, leaves 6th district Rep. Jeff Flake as the lone announced Republican in the Senatorial contest to succeed the retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R). Democrats have yet to see an individual come forward to formally state their own candidacy. Once the field is defined, the Arizona Senate race will also become highly competitive.
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