Tag Archives: Rhode Island

Last Primaries Tomorrow

Tomorrow marks the last regular primary election of this political cycle, as voters go to the polls in Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Louisianans also haven’t chosen their nominees and will do so in their unique version of the jungle primary that occurs on general election day, Nov. 6. In the Bayou State, if no 2012 candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, then the top two finishers will run-off on Dec. 1.

Tomorrow, however, will decide two key races: choosing gubernatorial nominees in the open New Hampshire statewide race, and whether freshman Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI-1) survives his competitive Democratic primary challenge.

The 1st Congressional District of Rhode Island encompasses the eastern part of the state, beginning at the Massachusetts border with the city of Woonsocket, taking part of the city of Providence, and then traveling south all the way through the upscale city of Newport and out to the Atlantic Ocean. Though the seat is heavily Democratic in nature (Obama ’08: 67 percent), Rhode Island voters do tend to send Republicans to Washington from time to time. Therefore, with former state police colonel Brendan Doherty (R) waiting in the wings for tomorrow’s winner, determining the Democratic nominee, especially in the person of a beleaguered Rep. Cicilline, will not end the battle for this seat.

Cicilline has problems tomorrow not so much for what he has done in Congress, but rather as a hangover from his tenure as Providence mayor. The city is teetering on bankruptcy, and Cicilline has been taking major hits in the local media for his expenditure budgets while he was the city’s chief executive. The Providence Journal newspaper has detailed the waste and abuse in city spending over the course of months, and popular local radio talk show host Buddy Cianci, the former Providence mayor who spent time in federal prison for his improprieties in office, uses Cicilline as his regular whipping boy.

The prolonged attention has caused the congressman grief and though he will likely be renominated tomorrow night, the margin between he and Democratic challenger Anthony Gemma could provide a clue as to how the general election will unfold.

Gemma is a marketing executive who ran two years ago when the seat was open, placing second to Cicilline in a four-person Democratic primary field with 23.3 percent to the winner’s 37.7 percent. Despite Cicilline being so well-known and facing three people who were largely unfamiliar to the voting populace, more than 62 percent of 2010 Democratic primary voters chose another candidate. He then won an unimpressive 51-45 percent victory in the general election. With increased negatives since that time, tomorrow’s race should be considered a serious challenge despite Gemma only raising slightly over $300,000 for the campaign.

The most competitive New Hampshire primary race is the Democratic battle for the right to succeed retiring four-term Gov. John Lynch (D). New Hampshire and Vermont are the only two states who still utilize two-year terms for their governors. So, even though Lynch has won four elections, the first New Hampshire chief executive in the modern era to do so, he has only served eight years.

Two former state legislators are squaring off for their party’s nomination, Democratic former state Senate majority leader Maggie Hassan and ex-state senator Jackie Cilley. The winner – and Hassan is only a slight favorite tomorrow – will likely face GOP former gubernatorial nominee and ex-chairman of the state Board of Education, Ovide Lamontagne. The November contest will likely be as close as the presidential election here will be, in what will prove to be a tight and politically pivotal state.

At the congressional level, the general election contests are virtually set as Rep. Frank Guinta (R) defends his 1st District seat against the woman he unseated two years ago, former representative Carol Shea-Porter (D). The 2nd District contest will also feature a re-match of the 2010 campaign, a fierce one-point race between current Rep. Charlie Bass (R) and lobbyist Ann McLane Kuster (D). An equally close contest is forecast for this year. The two Republican incumbents face multiple primary opponents tomorrow, but none are serious. Both Democratic candidates are unopposed.

The Importance of Wisconsin and Indiana

With a break in the presidential voting action until Tuesday and Mitt Romney again trying to instill a sense of the inevitability of his victory by rolling out important endorsements like former President George H.W. Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), we take a look at the remaining 22 entities that still lie ahead on the political landscape.

So far, Romney has won 20 voting entities and lost 14. Of the remaining 22 still to vote, 11 look like they are headed his way (California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Utah), while nine are places where Rick Santorum still has a chance to win (Arkansas, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and West Virginia). Should Santorum take all nine of these entities – and several are iffy – and Romney capture the 11 projected to go his way, the scorecard will read: Romney 31 states and territories; Others 23, with Wisconsin (April 3) and Indiana (May 8) shaping up as the key swing states.

Should Santorum upset Romney in Wisconsin and Indiana, the nomination fight could again divert along a new path and thoughts of an open convention could become real. If Romney wins the Badger State with a follow-up score in the Hoosier State, then the nomination battle truly could be over. Looking ahead, it now appears that this pair of states could become the final indicators.

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.

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.

Florida is Just the Beginning of the Presidential Campaign

Many commentators and analysts have been publicly alluding to a scenario where next Tuesday’s Florida primary perhaps ends the Republican presidential campaign. They believe that enough momentum could come from the Sunshine State vote, the biggest state to claim the electoral spotlight to date, that virtually all of the other candidates fall by the wayside.

Regardless of who wins Florida, it is very unlikely that such will be the case, and it all comes down to simple math. It takes 1,144 adjusted delegate votes to clinch the nomination. After Florida a mere 115 will be, for all intents and purposes, chosen; just 10 percent of the number required to win and only 5 percent of the total delegate universe.

The delegate number is so small during this first part of the election cycle, because many of the early states were penalized delegate slots for moving their nominating event. Florida started the musical chairs by shifting to Jan. 31, in violation of Republican National Committee rules. The action cost them 50% of their delegation. Florida is awarded 99 delegates, but post-penalty, the candidates are vying for only 50.

Because New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan and Arizona all moved up, they too, receive 50 percent penalties. Cumulatively, the penalized states lose an aggregate total of 143 delegate slots. Thus, the universe of Republican National Convention delegates is reduced from 2,429 to 2,286.

Through South Carolina, the projected delegate scorecard gives former House Speaker Newt Gingrich the lead with just 27 votes. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is second with 15 delegates, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) is third at 9, and ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is next with 6. Technically, Texas Gov. Rick Perry captured three delegates and former Obama Administration official Jon Huntsman won two, so it is likely these five votes will be released.

But even the status of these few votes is no certainty. As Rep. Paul stated in Monday night’s Florida debate, the Iowa Caucuses are not over. The vote on Jan. 3 was merely a straw poll. The main purpose of the precinct caucuses was to elect delegates to the county conventions. At those meetings, delegates are then sent to the June 16 state convention where the 28 Iowa Republican National Convention representatives finally will be chosen.

South Carolina also is not finished. Because the state apportions most of their delegates through the congressional districts, assignment cannot yet move forward because the new seven-seat congressional redistricting plan has not fully cleared all legal hurdles. When the districts are finalized, it appears that Gingrich will win Districts 2 thru 7. Romney carried CD-1. This means the former Speaker is projected to eventually receive 23 of the 25 available Palmetto State delegates.

Even through Super Tuesday (March 6), only 29 percent of the delegates will be chosen, suggesting that the nomination fight could go on for some time. Eighteen states will vote on or before Super Tuesday, holding a total of 664 delegate votes.

Many of the larger states are holding their elections later in the cycle in order to attract more attention and greater political capital. In fact, just seven states (California, Illinois, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas) hold more cumulative delegate votes (670) than do all the states voting through the Super Tuesday informal benchmark.

It is not until the April 24 primaries when more than 70 percent of the total delegates are selected that a clear nominee will likely be chosen. Therefore, instead of places like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida determining the Republican nominee, the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut now become the key venues, some three months after Floridians cast their ballots.

Based on the current results, prepare for a much longer contest than originally projected … and miles to go before we sleep.