Tag Archives: Washington

Congressional Primaries Begin Today

Super Tuesday has traditionally been the focal point of the presidential nomination process. Today, however, one state, Ohio, kicks off the national congressional primary season, as well. All 16 newly drawn congressional districts must nominate candidates this evening, and three are being actively contested.

In the Cincinnati/Southwest Ohio 2nd District, four-term Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) faces three Republican opponents, the most notable of whom is surgeon Brad Wenstrup who garnered 46 percent against Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory in 2009. Wenstrup’s effort hasn’t been particularly robust, especially in the district’s rural counties, but he should score relatively well against Ms. Schmidt. Upsetting her, however, is probably out of his reach.

In the new 3rd District, a Columbus Democratic seat that encompasses most of the city, defeated Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D) is attempting a comeback bid. She may be successful, though former state House Minority Leader Joyce Beatty armed with support from Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, says her internal polls show the race to be a virtual tie. State Rep. Ted Celeste, brother of former Gov. Richard Celeste (D), is also a candidate but the race appears to be between Kilroy and Beatty.

In the Cleveland-Toledo 9th District, Rep. Marcy Kaptur is expected to win the Democratic nomination against gadfly Rep. Dennis Kucinich. The loss of two seats in reapportionment caused these two incumbents to be paired. Don’t be surprised to see Kucinich pop up in another state this year if he loses tonight. Because of his presidential bids in both 2004 and 2008, the controversial Cleveland congressman says he has a base of support in both Washington and Hawaii. With Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA-6) just announcing his retirement last week, a new opening exists in the Evergreen State. Could another bizarre Kucinich move be already formulating?

Romney Takes Washington; The Precursor to Tuesday?

Mitt Romney scored big in the Washington caucuses over the weekend and even though there were no delegates attached to his beauty contest win, the victory was significant. It could prove to be a springboard into tomorrow’s 10-state Super Tuesday contests.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was not that Romney placed first, but that Rick Santorum actually dropped behind Ron Paul to finish third. In mid-February, and before the Michigan and Arizona primaries, Public Policy Polling (Feb. 16-19; 400 likely Washington state GOP caucus attenders) pegged Santorum to a 38-27-15-12 percent lead over Romney, Paul, and Newt Gingrich, respectively.

A day after the Michigan and Arizona results, two states that Romney swept, PPP went back into the Evergreen State and detected a momentum shift. According to that study (Feb. 29-31; 447 likely Washington state GOP caucus attenders), Romney had captured the advantage and led 37-32-16-13 percent over Santorum, Paul, and Gingrich, in that order.

The somewhat surprising conclusion in the March 3 Washington vote that produced record high participation featured Romney scoring a 38-25-24-10 percent win over Paul, Santorum, and Gingrich. Therefore, not only did Santorum drop further down but Rep. Paul finished a full ten points above his polling range.

More than 49,000 people attended the Washington caucuses on Saturday, almost four times higher than the 13,475 individuals who voted in 2008. Across the board in the 13 states that have already hosted nominating events, turnout levels have been mixed.

In seven states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, and Washington), turnout was higher this year than in 2008; substantially so in South Carolina and Washington.

In five states (Florida, Nevada, Minnesota, Missouri, and Arizona) turnout was lower; substantially so in Florida and Minnesota. Since the current vote did not carry delegate apportionment, the Missouri primary had little meaning in this election year as opposed to 2008 when it proved to be a deciding factor, thus explaining 2012’s strong Missouri participation downturn. The Arizona ’08 turnout was artificially high because favorite son John McCain was on the ballot. Wyoming did not report vote totals in 2008, only delegate apportionment, so it is impossible to tell if the 2,108 people who attended caucus meetings this year is a larger or smaller group than previous.

Tomorrow, 10 more states will vote representing a cumulative delegate number of 437. So far, not counting Washington or Missouri, since both of those states held beauty contest votes and will assign delegates later in the year at their respective state conventions, 331 delegates have been apportioned. Therefore, the 10 states voting tomorrow will exceed the aggregate number of delegates fought over so far in the 11 earliest voting states.

Romney appears to be a lock in his home state of Massachusetts (41 delegates) and neighboring Vermont (17). He is the prohibitive favorite in Virginia because only he and Rep. Paul qualified for the ballot. Since one of the two candidates will claim a majority of the vote, Virginia transforms into a winner-take-all state meaning the victor, almost assuredly Mr. Romney, will add 49 more delegates to his total.

Polling continues to show Santorum with a slight lead in all-important Ohio (66 delegates), with more substantial margins in Tennessee (58) and Oklahoma (43). Newt Gingrich leads in his home state of Georgia, now featuring the fourth largest Republican contingent of delegates (76) in the country.

The Alaska (27 delegates), Idaho (32), and North Dakota (28) caucuses are difficult to project and could become wild cards. Tomorrow will bring us an exciting and possibly politically transforming night.

The Super Tuesday Scorecard

It’s quite possible that Super Tuesday, designed to give one presidential candidate a boost toward the eventual party nomination, may not be particularly definitive in 2012.

Initial polling has been published, or trends are clear, in nine of the 13 states hosting caucuses or primaries on or before Super Tuesday; the preliminary information suggests that the race will move toward the next group of states in close fashion.

Currently, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum holds definitive leads over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Ohio (66 delegates – 42-24 percent, Rasmussen Reports, Feb. 15), Oklahoma (40 delegates – 39-23 percent, The Sooner Poll, Feb. 8-16) and Washington (53 delegates – 38-27 percent, Public Policy Polling, Feb. 16-19). He also has a close lead in Michigan (30 delegates – 38-34 percent, Rasmussen, Feb. 20). The grand total of delegates apportioned in the aforementioned Santorum states is 189.

Romney has no published polling data for the states where he commands a definitive advantage with the exception of Virginia, but the outcomes are unquestioned. He will win his home state of Massachusetts (41 delegates), along with Vermont (17 delegates) and Virginia (49 delegates). He has a close lead in Arizona (29 delegates – 36-33 percent, PPP, Feb. 17-19).

The Old Dominion is becoming more important than originally projected. Christopher Newport University conducted a poll of Virginia Republican primary voters (Feb. 4-13) and found Romney leading Rep. Ron Paul 53-23 percent. Remember, only Romney and Paul qualified for the Virginia ballot, meaning one of the candidates will win a majority of the vote – almost assuredly Romney. Breaking 50 percent is important because under Virginia delegate apportionment rules, any candidate receiving a majority of the vote receives unanimous support from all 49 delegates. Therefore, the inability of Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to recruit enough petition signatures to participate in the Virginia primary will cost them dearly.

Adding the delegate contingents from the aforementioned Romney states produces an aggregate count of 136.

Georgia is now becoming extremely interesting. With the delegate penalty sanction assessed to Florida for its defiance of Republican National Committee rules, the Peach State now becomes the fourth-largest contingent with 76 delegates. According to a survey from the Atlanta-based Insider Advantage (Feb. 20), Gingrich leads his GOP opponents with 26 percent, but he is followed closely by Romney and Santorum with 24 and 23 percent, respectively. Therefore, it is clear that Georgia is anyone’s game. But, if the vote stays this evenly divided, the candidates will likely split the pool of delegates almost evenly, thereby giving no one a clear upper hand.

There is no available polling for Tennessee (47 delegates), or the caucus states of Alaska (27 delegates), Idaho (32 delegates) and North Dakota (28 delegates). Combined, states total 134 delegates – so far unaccounted for. The aggregate number of delegates contained in the universe of Super Tuesday and Super Tuesday cusp states is 535, or 23.4 percent of the entire Republican National Convention delegate universe.

It is reasonable to expect momentum to shift toward one candidate should either Santorum or Romney sweep the pre-Super Tuesday states of Michigan, Arizona, and Washington. If this happens, then Super Tuesday itself could become definitive after all.

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.

Weekly Redistricting Update

Significant redistricting action occurred in the following seven states during the holidays:

ARIZONA (current delegation: 5R-3D; gains one seat) – The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission adopted a new congressional map just before the year ended. It is similar to the controversial draft map in that it creates more competitive seats. Political numbers will be available shortly, thus giving us a better picture of what will happen in the 2012 elections. Looking only at the geographical divisions, it appears that four seats will be Republican, three Democrat, with one toss-up district. Among incumbents, it appears that Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-1) may have received the most difficult draw, but it is possible he could hop over into the new 4th District, an open seat that should be solidly Republican. The most likely outcome for 2012, according to the earliest of projections, is a 5R-4D split, meaning the Democrats will gain one net seat.

GEORGIA (current delegation: 8R-5D; gains one seat) – The Justice Department granted pre-clearance to the Georgia map, virtually completing the Peach State redistricting process. Lawsuits will continue, but obtaining DoJ approval now makes it extremely difficult to dislodge the plan. Republicans will gain the new seat, labeled as District 9. Rep. Tom Graves (R) now goes to District 14, and Rep. John Barrow’s (D) 12th District becomes highly competitive. Republican District 1 (Rep. Jack Kingston) also becomes more competitive, while District 8 (Rep. Austin Scott) changes significantly but remains in the contested category.

MISSISSIPPI (current delegation: 3R-1D) – The three-judge federal panel, even before the new legislature convenes today, released a congressional map that changes very little among the four districts. Their biggest task was to balance the four seats from a population perspective. The 2nd District of Rep. Bennie Thompson (D) is officially 73,561 people low, meaning those individuals must come from the other three districts. The northern Mississippi 1st District (Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R) is the most over-populated of the four seats, having to shed 46,271 inhabitants. It remains to be seen if the new legislature makes any quick changes to the map. Candidate filing begins Jan. 13, thereby giving them a very small window in which to take action. The politics of the map will likely remain constant.

NEW JERSEY (current delegation: 7D-6R; loses one seat) – The New Jersey congressional redistricting commission comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans, and a tie-breaker (Republican former Attorney General John Farmer) released their congressional map just before 2011 ended. Tie-breaking member Farmer voted with the Republicans, thereby adopting the GOP-submitted map. On paper, the plan paired Reps. Scott Garrett (R-NJ-5) and Steve Rothman (D-NJ-9) into a new 5th District that contains 79 percent of Garrett’s current territory and only 21 percent of Rothman’s.

The practical outcome changed, however, when Rothman announced he will challenge fellow Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8) in the new 9th District, a seat that contains 54 percent of the former’s current seat, instead of running against Republican Garrett. The new 9th houses Pascrell’s home of Paterson, but only encompasses 43 percent of his previous 8th District. Rothman sees his home of Fair Lawn go to Garrett’s 5th, but his former political power base of Englewood carries over to the 9th. It remains to be seen if Mr. Pascrell, an eight-term incumbent who will be 75 years old at the end of the month, will forge the uphill challenge against Rothman or simply retire. In any event, it appears the Democrats will absorb the reapportionment casualty and the new delegation will most likely return six Republicans and six Democrats.

NEW MEXICO (current delegation: 2D-1R) – The New Mexico state court charged with drawing a new congressional map completed its work and returned a plan that looks almost identical to the current political landscape. The court made only small changes to the three districts after balancing the seats from a population perspective. Rep. Steve Pearce’s (R) 2nd District was the most out of balance, having to gain 22,437 people. The political numbers among the three districts are almost identical to those of the previous decade, meaning that the state will continue to hold one Democratic seat (NM-3; Rep. Ben Lujan), one Republican district (NM-2; Rep. Pearce), and a marginal Albuquerque-based 1st District that leans Democratic. Though the 1st CD will host a competitive open seat race in the fall, the eventual Democratic nominee will be tabbed as the general election favorite. The most likely outcome after the 2012 election will again yield a delegation comprised of two Democrats and one Republican.

PENNSYLVANIA (current delegation: 12R-7D; loses one seat) – Just before Christmas, Gov. Tom Corbett (R) signed the congressional redistricting legislation into law. The new plan pairs Democrats Jason Altmire (D-PA-4) and Mark Critz (D-PA-12) in a new western PA 12th District, a seat where President Obama tallied only 45 percent. This means the eventual Democratic nominee, either Altmire or Critz, will still face a stiff challenge in the general election.

Though the map is designed to elect 12 Republicans and six Democrats and could possibly stretch to 13R-5D, President Obama scored a majority of the vote in 10 of the 18 districts, including those represented by Reps. Jim Gerlach (District 6), Pat Meehan (District 7), Mike Fitzpatrick (District 8), Charlie Dent (District 15), and Joe Pitts (District 16). Rep. Todd Platts’ (R) safely Republican 19th District is re-numbered as District 4, since the state no longer possesses 19 districts. The Pennsylvania primary is scheduled for May 17.

WASHINGTON (current delegation: 5D-4R; gains one seat) – The Washington redistricting commission also completed its work, adopting a new congressional plan that should protect all eight of the state’s incumbents seeking re-election, gives the new district to the Democrats, and puts a new 1st District in play for Republicans.

In a state where Democrats routinely win at the statewide level, the Republicans would have come away with a national victory simply by protecting all four of its incumbents. Under this plan, however, they now have a chance to evenly split the delegation as the new 1st District becomes competitive. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA-1) is running for governor, so his CD will be open in 2012. The plan switches the focal point of the district from the northern Seattle/Puget Sound island area to the east, meaning it has a more rural and conservative political anchor. The new draw plays well for Republican John Koster, the former state legislator and county official who lost close congressional races to Rep. Rick Larsen (D) in the current 2nd District during both 2000 and 2010. Larsen’s CD-2 now moves into the Puget Sound islands, changing his political focus, but giving him a much more Democratic district. For his part, Mr. Koster announced that he will run in new District 1. He previously was gearing up for a re-match with Larsen in WA-2. Several of the Democrats who were planning to run to succeed Inslee may now find themselves displaced in this new draw.

All of the remaining political situations, including those of Reps. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA-3) and Dave Reichert (R-WA-8) who represent marginal areas, improve for the incumbent. The new 10th District is placed southeast of the Seattle metro area, between Tacoma and around and including the capital city of Olympia. Former state House Majority Leader Denny Heck (D), who lost 47-53 percent to Herrera Beutler in 2010, is the odds-on favorite to capture the new seat. He has already announced that he will run. The district heavily favors the Democrats. It is made up largely from Rep. Adam Smith’s (D) current 9th District and the most Democratic part of Herrera Beutler’s seat.

For his part, Mr. Smith draws a heavily Democratic district, but one that has a much higher minority complexion. Herrera Beutler’s current seat is over-populated to the degree of 106,894 people. Smith’s current seat needed to shed 50,675 bodies. The most over-populated of Washington’s congressional districts is that of Rep. Reichert, which sheds 138,300 inhabitants and becomes more rural and Republican.