Tag Archives: Texas

Romney’s Reality and Other Struggling GOP Candidates

Now that the dust has settled and the final results have been recorded from the Tuesday night vote, it is clear that Mitt Romney slightly underperformed on the aggregate delegate count. With his win in Hawaii and the sweep of American Samoa’s nine delegates somewhat off-setting his third-place finishes in Mississippi and Alabama, Romney looks to have secured approximately 42 delegate votes on the evening. This is four to five short of his projected bare minimum pace necessary to secure 1,144 delegates before the Republican National Convention begins. Since he will more than likely continue to fare poorly in the remaining southern states of Louisiana (March 24), North Carolina (May 8), Arkansas (May 22), and Texas (May 29) the Midwestern trio of states – Illinois (March 20), Wisconsin (April 3), and Indiana (May 8) – are must-win landslides if he is to maintain his victory chances.

In other races, several Republican incumbents claimed renomination on Tuesday night with uninspiring percentages against weak opposition. Reps. Jo Bonner (R-AL-1), House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL-6) and freshman Alan Nunnelee (R-MS-1) all won their primary elections outright, but with percentages between 55 and 60 percent. This is hardly a normal result since such efforts against under-funded opponents usually find the incumbent exceeding 75 percent. Tuesday’s congressional vote, coupled with the defeat of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH-2) and former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH-15) last week in the Ohio primaries, could be an early indication that voters’ anti-incumbent sentiments, so prominent since the 2006 election, have yet to subside.

Weekly Redistricting Update

Now that redistricting has been virtually completed in 37 of the 43 multi-congressional district states, the action tide has waned. However, during the past week significant action occurred in Florida, New York and Texas.

FLORIDA (current delegation: 19R-6D; gains two seats) – The Florida Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on the congressional, state Senate and House redistricting plans. Their principal task is to determine if the maps are legally consistent with the Fair Districts initiative that voters passed in 2010. The US Justice Department will review the plans at the end of the state process in order to grant pre-clearance. The Florida legal questions are the most difficult in the nation because the Fair Districts law and the Voting Rights Act seem to conflict on certain fundamental points.

The Supreme Court must approve or disapprove the redistricting legislation by March 9. If they reject, Gov. Rick Scott (R) has five days to call the legislators into special session for purposes of reconciling the maps with the high court’s ruling. March 9 is adjournment day for the Florida legislature, hence the necessity for a special session if the legislature is required to act.

NEW YORK (current delegation: 21D-8R; loses two seats) – The newly assembled three-judge panel accepted public submission maps through last Friday. The legislature continues to move forward in the process, but has failed to even produce a draft congressional map. The new candidate filing deadline is March 24, since a federal court judge moved the New York primary to June 26 in order to comply with the federal MOVE Act. This law requires that overseas voters have a specified amount of notice prior to every election day, meaning that states with certain late September primaries, like New York, must change their schedule. Obviously, maps will have to be produced very soon in order to comply with the new electoral time frame.

TEXAS (current delegation: 23R-9D; gains four seats) – The San Antonio three-judge panel finally brought forth the congressional and legislative maps, issued a belated court order after their public release, and set the political calendar. But the process is still not quite over.

The three-judge panel ruled that the candidate filing deadline would be extended to March 9 and the state primary would be held May 29th, with the run-off election for candidates in races where no majority was achieved on July 31. The US Court of Appeals, DC Circuit, still has before it the original congressional and state legislative submission from the state of Texas. They are still expected to rule in the relatively near future. Any decision this court makes would trump the three-judge panel. It is also possible they could delay the ruling and allow the just-approved map to serve as interim lines for 2012.

Though the entire process is not completed yet, we are closer to having a map and election schedule for at least the 2012 campaign. If the San Antonio map does take effect, Republicans will clearly win the majority of Texas congressional seats, but just how large will be their margin?

Once the DC Court of Appeals takes action, the last piece of the Texas redistricting puzzle will finally be played. The odds seem strong, however, that the San Antonio panel’s draw will soon be formally installed as the map for at least the 2012 election.

Texas Redistricting Map Released

The three-judge federal panel in San Antonio yesterday released the latest version of the Texas congressional map, along with those for the state House and Senate. It is clear the panel adhered to the mandate the US Supreme Court delivered when the body rejected the original court map because the population was not equally dispersed among the 36 districts, and some of the minority districts did not meet previous federal directives.

The Texas Legislative Council released partisan numbers for the new seats, but not minority counts. Once the complete data is available, a full analysis can be provided.

At a cursory glance, it appears Republicans will fare much better with this map than under the previous court plan. Because the three-judge panel was forced to give deference to the legislatively passed map, the elected body’s original footprint has been restored.

The map appears to improve the seats of Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX-6) and Michael McCaul (R-TX-10), both of whom were given marginal districts in the first court plan. Freshman Rep. Quico Canseco (R-TX-23) will continue to battle in a marginal 50/50 district, but has a better draw now than previously.

In the East Texas 14th District, being vacated by Rep. Ron Paul (R), the Galveston-Beaumont region is again together, which favors former Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX-9 and 22), but is even more Republican than in past versions. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-25) is placed in the 35th District, a seat that stretches from Travis County, the Congressman’s home, into Bexar County. It will be a heavily Hispanic district. The new 25th District then becomes an open Republican seat that begins in western Travis County and meanders northward toward Ft. Worth.

It appears the GOP would be favored in 25 seats and the Democrats in 10, with the Canseco district being in toss-up status. A more detailed analysis will be conducted once the full demographic and political data becomes public.

Weekly Redistricting Update

Now that redistricting has been virtually completed in 35 of the 43 multi-congressional district states, less significant action is occurring. During the past week, however, action occurred in the following five states:

FLORIDA (current delegation: 19R-6D; gains two seats) – Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed the Florida congressional map legislation, and the legal wrangling has already begun. Several lawsuits were filed. The Florida Supreme Court has approval authority over the process, so the court must determine if the legislature and governor enacted a legal plan. The unique problem with the Florida map concerns the wide criteria differences between the voter initiative passed in 2010 and the Voting Rights Act. The two measures appear to conflict in certain areas. The legal procedure will take some time and the plan just enacted will likely undergo at least some change. Still, this new 27-seat map will almost assuredly be the footprint for the final plan.

MINNESOTA (current delegation: 4D-4R) – The state court with redistricting jurisdiction, having to take action because the legislature and governor failed to agree upon congressional and legislative plans, is scheduled to unveil the final map later today. The big question concerns how freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN-8) will fare since he represents a seat designed for Democrats. The other point of interest concerns Rep. Michele Bachmann’s 6th District now that she has exited the presidential race and announced her intention to seek re-election. More on this to come when the court makes their map public.

NEW YORK (current delegation: 21D-8R; loses two seats) – A federal court judge has assembled a three-judge panel to begin redistricting consideration. The legislature has so far failed to produce any map, and a serious deadlock between the Democratic Assembly and the Republican state Senate remains unbroken. The map is difficult to draw from a partisan perspective. The greatest population loss is in the upstate Buffalo area, where Democrats must not only try to protect two veteran members, Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY-28) and Brian Higgins (D-NY-27), but also must find a way to strengthen freshman Rep. Kathy Hochul’s (D-NY-26) seat that was won in a special election last year.

PENNSYLVANIA (current delegation: 12R-7D; loses one seat) – Though the congressional map has been enacted, a court has struck down the state legislative maps. It now appears that the April 24 primary, including the vote for president, could be endangered. If new legislative maps are not completed in time, this primary, too, may have to be moved to a later date.

TEXAS (current delegation: 23R-9D; gains four seats) – As time passes and it appears there is no agreement in sight between Texas Democrats and Republicans on a new congressional map, the prospects of moving the primary to May 29 increases. Originally, the nominating vote was scheduled for March 6, and then moved to April 3 because of delays in configuring a legally acceptable final map. The May 29 date means the Texas run-off election will move to sometime in July or possibly August. It also remains to be decided if the state will hold two primaries, one for the presidential, statewide and possibly county races, and another for all elections involving districts. The expense of holding the two separate votes will likely be the key reason that keeps the primary unified.

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.