Tag Archives: Texas

Texas Rep. Charlie Gonzalez to Retire

Seven-term Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX-20) announced over the weekend that he will not seek re-election next year, a surprise announcement.

The congressman says he wants to return to the private sector for financial reasons. The new court-drawn redistricting map just released prior to the Thanksgiving break makes the 20th District a bit more Republican, but still would have easily re-elected Mr. Gonzalez.

Since this is an unexpected open seat, local politicians will begin making their moves to take advantage of the situation. This development could create another opportunity for former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX-23) who is planning to run next year in a San Antonio-based CD.

Mr. Gonzalez becomes the 22nd member to announce they will not seek re-election to the House in 2012, and the 16th Democrat. He is the eighth member to retire. The others are running for higher office.

Weekly Redistricting Roundup

Significant redistricting action occurred in the following seven states during the past week: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas.

ALABAMA (current delegation: 6R-1D) – The Department of Justice officially granted pre-clearance for the Alabama congressional map, making the enacted map a virtual lock to survive all future legal challenges. The plan protects all seven incumbents and should return the 6R-1D delegation split for the ensuing decade.

ARIZONA (current delegation: 5R-3D; gains one seat) – The Arizona state Supreme Court overturned Arizona Independent Redistricting Chair Colleen Mathis’ (I) impeachment, thus reinstating her as a member of the panel. This likely means that the Commission will now be able to pass a new congressional map into law. The draft map has now exceeded the required time limit for public comment and is ready for passage. The panel has indicated that some changes will be made based upon input received. Mathis says the Commission will complete its work before Christmas. The map features four Republican districts, two Democratic, and three swing seats that will likely trend toward the Democrats as the decade progresses. For her part, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) who led Mathis’ impeachment drive, indicated she may again pursue an effort to remove her.

COLORADO (current delegation: 4R-3D) – The Republicans decided to appeal the lower court action that constructed the new congressional districts. Under the plan, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) is endangered and Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO-3) continues to hold a very marginal seat. The state Supreme Court will hear the appeal and have scheduled the first week of December for oral arguments.

KENTUCKY (current delegation: 4R-2D) – Now that the odd-numbered year elections are over, the Kentucky legislature released draft congressional maps. The congressional delegation itself proposed a map and state Assembly Speaker Greg Stumbo (D) also put forth his plan. Both are similar, particularly in the way they protect the 4R-2D current footprint. The Democrats control the governor’s office and the state Assembly. Republicans have a strong majority in the Senate. The deal appears to give all four GOP members safe seats but also shores up Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY-6) who had a close call in the 2010 election, winning by just 515 votes. The incumbent protection plan is expected to pass into law.

MASSACHUSETTS (current delegation: 10D; loses one seat) – After a slight delay due to a legislative procedural maneuver, the state Senate passed the House version of the new nine-district congressional map. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) signed the plan into law yesterday. The map should elect nine Democrats in succeeding elections. With Rep. John Olver (D-MA-1) retiring, his 1st District was collapsed into the Springfield seat of Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA-2), making one large western Mass district. Freshman Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA-10) will run in the new 9th District despite his home city of Quincy being placed in Rep. Stephen Lynch’s (D-MA-9) new 8th District.

MINNESOTA (current delegation: 4R-4D) – Late last week, the political parties filed their proposed congressional maps with the special judicial panel hearing the redistricting lawsuit. The legislature passed a map, but Gov. Mark Dayton (D) vetoed the plan. Therefore, the court must draw a de novo map. For their part, the Republicans filed the eight-district bill that passed the legislature. The Democrats submitted their own map, but the plan was so partisan that even two of their own congressional members, Reps. Betty McCollum (D-MN-4) and Collin Peterson (D-MN-7), both decried it saying their Democratic Party leaders went too far. The Dem plan pairs Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) with McCollum in a new Democratic 4th District that is only two points below the present MN-4 partisan number. Bachmann, should she choose to seek re-election to the House, could move to a nearby more Republican seat, so it is unlikely that the pairing will ever occur. McCollum’s chief of staff was quoted as saying, “The DFL Chair and his high-paid lawyers have proposed a congressional map to the redistricting panel that is hyper-partisan and bizarre.” Peterson stated his belief that both party’s maps are too partisan. The court is taking input from all sides and will put forth its own plan at a later date.

TEXAS (current delegation: 23R-9D; gains four seats) – The three-judge panel drawing the new Texas maps released the state House and Senate maps, meaning the congressional plans will soon be made public, probably right before Thanksgiving or the Monday after the holiday. The panel favored the Democratic versions of the submitted legislative plans, and much the same is expected for the congressional plan. The enacted US House plan would likely have elected 26 Republicans and 10 Democrats. The court plan will likely be closer to a 22- or 23-R, 14- or 13-D map.

State-by-State House Race Review

With several more states completing their redistricting maps, it is again a good time to take an updated look at the competitive campaigns where district boundaries have been adopted. The first 12 states are covered below. The remaining dozen will be in Wednesday’s report. If the Texas court map is released this week, that analysis will be included, too.

As of now, the aggregate partisan swing pertaining to the states that have completed their maps is negligible. The remaining 14 multi-district states where the process has either not begun or isn’t complete, as well as the new Texas map, could favor the Democrats by the tune of 10 to 12 seats.

Alabama

All incumbents received winnable districts. Rep. Mike Rogers’ (R-AL-3) district was greatly improved from his perspective. The Alabama map still awaits Justice Department pre-clearance. Assuming it is granted, no partisan change is expected here.

Arkansas

The new lines most greatly affect the 1st and 4th districts. Freshman GOP Rep. Rick Crawford faces a difficult test in the new 1st District, which was made more Democratic. The retirement of Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR-4) makes the new 4th CD highly competitive in an open seat situation and is a GOP conversion opportunity. The swing will fall between R+1 and D+1.

California

The California Independent Redistricting Commission created a highly competitive map that could produce contested campaigns in as many as 23 of the 53 districts. The change in the state’s election law also adds a new twist to California campaigns. Now, the top two finishers in the June qualifying election advance to the November general regardless of party affiliation.

Among incumbents, Rep. David Dreier (R-CA-26) whose home was placed in new District 32, faces the most difficult re-election situation. He won’t run in CA-32 against Rep. Grace Napolitano (D) because the seat so heavily favors the Democrats. He could run in District 31, assuming Rep. Jerry Lewis (R) does not seek re-election there, or District 26 if Rep. Elton Gallegly (R) decides to challenge Rep. Buck McKeon (R) in the new 25th District. Neither scenario is positive for Dreier.

Several members are paired. The most notable are Reps. Howard Berman (D) and Brad Sherman (D) in the new Los Angeles County 30th District, and Reps. Ed Royce (R) and Gary Miller (R) in the new 39th District (Orange County). Should Gallegly and McKeon square-off in the new 25th, then another incumbent pairing will result.

With members still deciding where, or if, to run in 2012, the California situation is still unclear. It appears the statewide swing can go all the way from +3 Democrat to +3 Republican. After only seeing one incumbent of either party lose during the entire last decade, the new congressional redistricting map will make the Golden State one of the more hotly contested states in the country.

Colorado

The new court-produced map changes the competition factor. The plan makes the 4th District of freshman Rep. Cory Gardner (R) more Republican, but endangers sophomore Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6). The western slope 3rd District remains in the swing category. The partisan swing could go from even to D+2.

Georgia

The state gained one seat in reapportionment, and Republicans adding that seat to their column is a certainty. Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12) will face a more competitive re-election contest, but the large African-American percentage is his greatest asset and may be enough to save him. The swing could go from R+1 to R+2. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10) was given a relatively safe Republican seat, but a much different one than his current district. A primary challenge here is a possibility. Like Alabama, Georgia awaits Department of Justice pre-clearance.

Idaho

The redistricting commission made only cosmetic changes in the state’s two congressional districts. Both Republican incumbents have winnable districts.

Illinois

This is the Democrats’ best state. The partisan swing could be as many as a D+4. Reps. Bob Dold (R-IL-10), Judy Biggert (R-IL-13), and Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17) all have difficult re-election challenges. Reps. Joe Walsh (R-IL-8) and Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14) are paired in the new 14th CD. Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-11) and Don Manzullo (R-IL-16) are paired in the new 16th.

Indiana

Republicans drew the Hooiser State map and are attempting to increase their 6-3 delegation advantage to 7-2. They might be successful, since 2nd District Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) decided to forego re-election in a more difficult seat and is running for the Senate. Though the 2nd District is more Republican, it is still competitive as President Obama scored 49 percent even within the new boundaries. By making IN-2 more Republican, the 8th District of freshman Rep. Larry Bucshon (R) becomes more competitive. The map improved, from a Republican perspective, freshman Rep. Todd Young’s (R) 9th District. The swing could go from R+1 to D+1.

Iowa

The new four-district map largely displaces all five current House incumbents. The loss of a seat in reapportionment causes the pairing of Reps. Leonard Boswell (D-IA-3) and Tom Latham (R-IA-4) in the very different and marginal new 3rd District. This race will be a toss-up all the way to Election Day. The new western Iowa 4th District is also competitive. Rep. Steve King (R) faces Christie Vilsack (D), the wife of former governor and current US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The swing could go from R+1 to D+1.

Louisiana

Reapportionment costs the state one district and even though Republicans control the entire process, they will lose a seat. The new map pairs veteran Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA-7) and freshman Jeff Landry (R-LA-3) in the new 3rd District. Boustany is favored. All of the other incumbents should be safe. With the GOP taking the reapportionment hit, the partisan swing becomes D+1 by default.

Maine

Another two-district state where little change will occur. After an attempt to make the 1st District more Republican, the final plan protects the state’s two Democrats, Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1) and Mike Michaud (D-ME-2). No change is expected here.

Maryland

The Democrats, in full control of the redistricting process, made the Republicans pay. The resulting plan will very likely increase their 6D-2R delegation split to 7D-1R. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s (R) 6th District goes from 57 percent McCain, based upon the 2008 presidential contest, to 62 percent Obama, thus becoming a likely Democratic conversion district. All other incumbents, including freshman GOP Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD-1), get safe seats. The partisan swing is D+1.

More state reports on Wednesday …

Weekly Redistricting Roundup

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

MAINE (current delegation: 2D) – Gov. Paul LePage (R) signed the compromise congressional map that makes only minimal changes in the existing plan. The city of Waterville switches to the 1st District from the 2nd, and other cosmetic changes comprise the recorded alterations. Even though Republicans control the entire legislative process, redistricting legislation requires a two-thirds vote of both chambers. Therefore, the “no-change compromise” map was adopted to avoid a protracted court battle. Democrats will retain both seats.

MARYLAND (current delegation: 6D-2R) – As we move closer to seeing a map proposal coming from the Democratically controlled legislature, rumors continue to fly. Last week, it appeared that the Dem leaders were going to carve up Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s (R) 6th District but allow the GOP 1st District to stand. Now, it seems an effort is being made to draw an 8D-0R map, which means breaking up both Republican seats into multiple parts. Though the Eastern Shore would reportedly remain intact in CD 1, more Democratic Western Shore areas in and around the Annapolis area will be added. The proposed plan will soon be made public. Democrats control the entire process, so it is likely they will try for the 8-0 sweep.

NEW YORK (current delegation: 21D-8R; loses two seats) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has repeatedly said he would only sign a redistricting plan that was developed by an independent commission that he wanted the legislature to create. Now, he is sending signals that he would be open to a bi-partisan legislative compromise. He made statements to the media this week that he feels a court-drawn map would not be in the common interest of the New York citizenry. Expect the New York map to be one of the last enacted plans.

OHIO (current delegation: 13R-5D; loses two seats) – Gov. John Kasich (R) signed the legislation creating the new congressional redistricting plan. The map is designed to elect 12 Republicans and four Democrats, creating a new Columbus D seat and pairing the remaining minority party members together. Republicans Mike Turner (R-OH-3) and Steve Austria (R-OH-7) are also paired in the new 10th District. Ohio is now the 20th state to enact its congressional redistricting plan.

Fifteen maps are now law, with five more still before the Justice Department awaiting preclearance. Another four states await court action as their legislative process resulted in deadlock. The five remaining independent commissions will likely complete their combined work by early next year at the latest. So will at least two other states. This leaves a dozen late primary states to complete their processes next year. Congressional redistricting must occur in the 43 states that have more than one seat in the House of Representatives.

TEXAS (current delegation: 23R-9D; gains four seats) – As predicted by many, the new Texas congressional and state House maps will not likely pass the legal test. The San Antonio court hearing the consolidated lawsuits just indicated that it will draw an interim map while the legal process continues. This means a different map than enacted will now almost assuredly be inserted for the 2012 elections. The court has asked all parties to make their submissions for a replacement map by October 17th. The 2012 candidate filing period for the March primary begins on Nov. 17, so a new 36-district plan must be in place by at least that time. The Republican-enacted map appears to be a 26R-10D map.

Expect the court to draw a plan more favorable to the Democrats. Texas by-passed the Department of Justice and filed their preclearance submission with the District of Columbia Federal District Court. Since no decision has yet been rendered, the entire map can be re-drawn by the court of jurisdiction and not just the legally affected regions. Lawsuits were originally filed on minority group issues in and around the San Antonio-Austin area.

UTAH (current delegation: 2R-1D; gains one seat) – The appointed redistricting committee passed a plan to be considered in the special legislative beginning this week in Salt Lake City. The committee developed a map that could easily give the GOP a 4-0 sweep of the next delegation, a group that reapportionment increases by one member from its current three-seat configuration. Apparently Gov. Gary Herbert (R) is not particularly receptive to this plan, however, as he has made public statements reiterating his desire for a “fair” plan. Most interpret his statements to mean that he does not consider the legislative starting point to be acceptable.

His motives may not be purely altruistic, however. Without a district in which to run, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT-2), a long-time proven vote-getter in an overwhelmingly Republican congressional district during the last decade, would then be free to run statewide. The congressman says he will be on the 2012 ballot, but he has yet to decide for which office. He has not ruled out a run against Herbert or opposing Sen. Orrin Hatch (R). In reacting to the new map, Matheson was quoted as saying he could run in the new 2nd District or even in the new 4th CD, which is designed to occupy part of the Salt Lake City region in the center of the state. The Utah plan, with its many political sub-plots, continues to be one of the more interesting situations to observe. Expect the process to culminate within the next two weeks.

Muscial Chairs Again

In 2008, states began climbing over each other in order to obtain a better schedule for their own presidential nominating event, whether it be by caucus or primary. Places like Florida moved into a more prominent position, defying party rules, and were penalized half of their delegate slots, among other perks, at the respective national conventions. Saturday, the deadline for states to inform the Republican National Committee about their primary or caucus schedule will finally give us the opportunity of seeing how the primary/caucus calendar will unfold. Under RNC rules, only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are allowed to conduct delegate selection events prior to Super Tuesday, which, in 2012, is March 6.

The Florida commission charged with selecting the Republican primary date is already indicating they may choose Jan. 31 for their primary vote at their meeting tomorrow afternoon, in direct violation of RNC rules. Such a move will cost them half of their 99 Republican National Convention delegates. Should they move in this direction, watch Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina all move to an early or mid-January date. This will again drastically change each candidate’s campaign strategy, and the short calendar will make each early victory all the more important in terms of political momentum.

Interestingly, should the early states split their votes and different candidates win the first caucuses and primaries, then the late states will ultimately find themselves holding all the political cards, and with their full complement of delegates. If no clear leader emerges from the early states, then the bigger late states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and California will have a much greater say in determining who becomes the Republican nominee. With the nominating schedule finally being set on Saturday, the official calendar could tell us a great deal about who may become the eventual winner.