Tag Archives: Oklahoma

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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Carson Reverses Course in Oklahoma

Former Oklahoma Rep. Brad Carson (D), who appeared to be immediately hopping back into the political fray when Rep. Dan Boren (D) announced he would not seek re-election in 2012, has had a change of heart. Mr. Carson, who represented the 2nd district for two terms before running unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2004, would clearly be the Democrats’ best candidate to hold the seat for the party in the general election. He began sending messages yesterday, however, that he has decided not to run.

OK-2 is the state’s eastern congressional district, anchored by the city of Muskogee – made famous in the 1969 Merle Haggard song, “Okie from Muskogee” – features many towns between 10 and 20,000 people and hugs the entire Oklahoma-Arkansas border. The 2nd is a politically changing district, evolving from the quintessential “yellow dog Democrat” seat to a place that will vote Republican (McCain: 66 percent). Regardless of its partisan context, the region remains habitually conservative.

Sen. Tom Coburn became the first Republican to represent this part of the state in the modern political era when he won the congressional seat in 1994. Pledging only to serve three terms, Coburn retired in 2000 thus opening the door for Carson to re-capture the district for the Democrats. Rep. Boren succeeded Carson in 2004.

The former congressman’s surprise decision not to re-enter national politics next year makes this district highly competitive in the general election and gives the Republicans a strong opportunity to convert the seat. State Sen. Kenneth Corn (D), who was already challenging Carson for the Democratic nomination, is obviously now in a stronger position but the nomination is far from his. Since the Democrats have a large number of state and local officials throughout this region, we can expect a crowded and combative party primary. Republicans don’t yet have an announced candidate, but state Sen. Josh Breechen and state Rep. George Faught continue to be mentioned as likely candidates.

Without Carson in the race, expect activity in both parties to rapidly increase. The OK-2 campaign will likely carry a “toss-up” rating at least through the early going of the 2012 election cycle and probably all the way to Election Day.
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California Congresswoman Woolsey Retires

Today, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6) formally announced that she will not seek an 11th term in Congress next year. Woolsey, a former Petaluma, Calif. city councilwoman before coming to Washington, first entered the House in 1992 replacing then-Rep. Barbara Boxer (D) who won election to the Senate that same year.

Ms. Woolsey becomes the 14th House member who is choosing to step aside in 2012, but only the second to retire. The other dozen are running for higher office. Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK-2) is the only other member who, so far, is voluntarily opting to leave politics.

Congresswoman Woolsey is one of the most liberal members of the House. She is the chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House and has consistently aligned herself on the far left spectrum of the Democratic Party. She came to fame for being the first former welfare recipient to win election to Congress. Since then, another member, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), also claims the same distinction.

The new California redistricting map radically alters Woolsey’s 6th district. Previously anchored in the Bay Area’s Marin County, CA-6 covered only the aforementioned locality and part of Sonoma. Under the California Citizens Redistricting Commission’s 2011 congressional redistricting plan, the Woolsey district will now stretch all the way from Marin to the Oregon border, taking in a large portion of Rep. Mike Thompson’s (D-CA-1) current territory. The new North Coast district is heavily Democratic but has a considerably different constituency for Woolsey. The congresswoman would likely have held the seat, but she could have been vulnerable in a Democratic primary to a state or local official more familiar with the new district. It does not appear, however, that the re-map is the driving reason why the 73-year-old veteran representative will be walking away from her position.

Considering the major redistricting shake-up that is proving challenging for more than a third of California incumbents from both parties, Woolsey’s retirement is likely the first of several more. Seeing his district split six different ways, House Rules Committee chairman David Dreier (R-CA-26) is a retirement possibility. So are Reps. Pete Stark (D-CA-13), Lois Capps (D-CA-23), Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-34). While none of the aforementioned has specifically said they will leave Congress, their new districts will either be substantially different from their current seats, or politically unfavorable to them in a primary or general election. After years of representing safe districts, being thrown into a seriously competitive situation late in their careers may send some or all of these members packing.

Since the Woolsey retirement had been rumored for some time, two Democrats had already begun assembling a congressional campaign, and others will likely follow. State Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D) said he would not run against the congresswoman, but was beginning to raise money for a federal race in case she decided not to seek re-election. Through March 31, Huffman had raised $123,000 for his potential federal campaign.

In addition to Assemblyman Huffman, author and leftwing activist Norman Solomon had also announced his candidacy, once again presuming the Woolsey retirement. He did not file a financial disclosure report in the first quarter.

Now that Ms. Woolsey has made her plans official, expect other state legislators, Marin and Sonoma County local officials, and individuals from the newly added smaller north coastal counties, to seriously consider making congressional bids. Regardless of who eventually wins the Democratic primary in the newly configured district, that person will succeed Ms. Woolsey as the region’s Representative. Should the proposed lines actually become the final district boundaries, rate the North Coast seat as “Safe Democratic.”
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In Oklahoma’s 2nd D, Boren to Retire; ex-Rep. Carson to Run Again

Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK-2), 37, announced that he will not seek re-election to a fifth term in Congress next year. Mr. Boren, arguably one of the most conservative House Democrats, clearly is part of a minority within a minority, being a right-of-center congressman in an increasingly liberal party conference. Boren says being in Washington and away from his young family, coupled with the time demands of campaigning, are the reasons for his retirement.

Rep. Boren becomes the 14th non-redistricting-related House member to either resign or say they won’t run again, but is the first to do so without seeking higher office or escaping scandal. He will serve the balance of the term and did not say what he plans to do when he leaves the House.

The 2nd district of Oklahoma is one of the most conservative seats held by a Democrat in the United States. Once a “yellow dog” Democrat region, OK-2 trended much more Republican as the previous decade progressed. President Obama could only manage 34 percent of the vote here in 2008, compared to John McCain’s 66 percent. Former President George W. Bush notched 59 percent in 2004, seven points better than the 52 percent he recorded four years earlier.

The 2nd district encompasses the entire eastern quadrant of Oklahoma, beginning at the Kansas border and traveling south all the way to Texas. On the northeast, the seat borders Missouri; Arkansas lies to the southeast. The largest city is Muskogee.

Because Oklahoma had little in the way of population change, their new congressional redistricting plan looks very much like the current map. The new legislation has already been enacted into law. While the 2nd district traditionally elects a Democrat to Congress, in an open seat with an unpopular Barack Obama leading the 2012 Democratic Party ticket, a different result could be realized.

While two early GOP names pop up on the potential candidate list — Josh Brecheen, a state Senator from Coalgate, and state Rep. George Faught — the Democrats already have a likely successor waiting in the wings, and he will run. Former 2nd District Rep. Brad Carson (D), who vacated the seat to run unsuccessfully for Senate in 2004, announced his congressional comeback attempt next year on the heels of Boren’s retirement announcement. Kenneth Corn, a former state senator and the 2010 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee is also reportedly considering the race, but Carson appears to be the strongest possible Democrat to run in this seat, outside of Boren.

If the president cannot perform better than the 34 percent he scored in his last election, what effect will this have upon Carson’s race? Obviously, there will be a Democratic drag, hence the Republican nominee will have a legitimate chance to win even against the former congressman and Senatorial nominee.
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Presidential Mathematics

In the past few days, developments have occurred that help define the Republican presidential field of candidates. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, after giving every indication he was beginning to build a bona-fide presidential campaign apparatus, now says he won’t run. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) is forming a presidential exploratory committee, meaning his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), will not become a candidate. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now traveling to New Hampshire on a regular basis, says he will run if he doesn’t believe that another Republican candidate could actually defeat Pres. Barack Obama in a general election.

We still must hear definitively from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, ex-VP nominee Sarah Palin, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, all of whom may not enter the race, and Massachusetts ex-Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6), ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, all of whom either will, or probably will, run.

Looking at the delegate counts and apportionment systems that each state employs uncovers a road map to victory for one of the eventual candidates. Eleven states are winner-take-all (of Republican delegates) and another nine are winner-take-all by congressional district. These states proved key to Sen. John McCain’s come-from-behind victory in 2008. Remember, the McCain candidacy had been given up for dead until the actual voting began. His close wins in South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, and Arizona (though the margin between McCain and the other candidates wasn’t particularly close in his home state, he still managed to garner only 47 percent of the vote within his own Arizona party base) gave him such a commanding lead in the delegate count that it soon became obvious no one could catch him.

Interestingly, despite his under-the-radar approach to the 2012 campaign, the delegate-rich states stack up pretty well in former Mayor Giuliani’s favor, considering his home base of New York (101 delegates) and New Jersey (53), are in the winner-take-all category. Connecticut (28), the District of Columbia (19), Delaware (17), and Vermont (17) are all other places the ex-NYC chief executive could win. Maryland (37 delegates), another Giuliani potential, is in the winner-take-all by congressional district category. The big states of California (172) and Florida (93) are also there, as are Ohio (72) and Wisconsin (42).

All totaled, the winner-take-all and the winner-take-all by congressional district states contain 1,096 delegates of the grand total of 2,422 that form the Republican National Convention. This means 45.2 percent of all delegates will be chosen in either winner-take-all or winner-take-all by CD states. The remainder are in caucus, proportional systems, or hybrids like Louisiana (48 delegates) where both a primary and caucus are used.

The winner-take-all by congressional district awards a candidate a certain number of delegates for winning the statewide vote (usually their base 10 delegates that all states receive, and whatever extra and bonus votes they earn for electing Republican candidates to office) and another three delegates for every congressional district won. This system is interesting because some congressional districts in places like Los Angeles, where Republicans routinely receive well less than 30 percent of the vote are of equal stature to the strongest of GOP districts in terms of delegate allocation for the Republican presidential primary. While it is unlikely that any one candidate would win all of the delegates in a winner-take-all by CD state, it is possible for an individual to snare the vast majority, which matters greatly in the national vote count.

Whether Rudy Giuliani comes back from political oblivion to stake his comeback on a winner-take-all state strategy is unclear right now. What is evident, however, is that the person carrying the preponderance of these winner-take-all states and districts will almost assuredly win the 2012 Republican nomination and become Obama’s future general election opponent.

Winner-Take-All States
• Arizona – 54 delegates
• Connecticut – 28
• Delaware – 17
• District of Columbia – 19
• Missouri – 56
• Montana – 26
• New Jersey – 53
• New York – 101
• Utah – 36
• Vermont – 17
• Virginia – 49

Winner Take All by Congressional District
• California – 172 delegates
• Florida – 93
• Georgia – 72
• Maryland – 37
• Michigan – 62
• Ohio – 72
• Oklahoma – 43
• South Carolina – 47
• Wisconsin – 42

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For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.