Redistricting Roundup: No southern hospitality in the South Carolina Senate
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Edited by Geoff Pallay
Despite the fact that Republicans hold a trifecta in South Carolina, a heated debated is ongoing over the 7th Congressional District. Republicans currently hold large majorities in the Senate and House -- and the Governor's mansion in Columbia.
Members of the South Carolina House of Representatives last week approved a map that places the new seat in the northeastern part of the state -- centered near Myrtle Beach.
On June 23, 2011, a map was passed out of Senate committee after a 19-19 tied vote was broken by Lt. Governor Ken Ard (R). That plan would have split parts of Spartanburg County between the 4th and 5th Congressional Districts and put the new 7th District centered in Horry County.
But on Wednesday, the Senate surprised onlookers by passing a map that places the new 7th District in the Lowcountry -- centered around Beaufort County. The initial vote was 22-20 before final passage by 25-15. Senate leadership called the map a "setback" because it did not line up with the House plan.
Senators who backed the seat in the Lowcountry said that map would give Republicans a better chance of winning the 7th District. Senator Larry Grooms -- who initiated that map -- lobbied Democrats to join in support of his plan, which helped facilitate its initial passage.
The Senate map must now be reconciled with the House map. Negotiations will occur and then the legislature will reconvene on July 26 to vote again.
On Wednesday, the commission by a vote of 3-2 hired Strategic Telemetry to work as the mapping consultant. Colleen Mathis, commission chair, sided with the two Democratic commissioners. The Republican commissioners questioned the political leanings of Strategic Telemetry, based on its work with the past two Democratic presidential candidates -- John Kerry and President Barack Obama -- as well as current work with the recall campaigns against Republicans in Wisconsin. Mathis defended her decision, saying the hiring is not about politics and more about the advanced presentation that would include social media and mobile phones to gather public input. A three-hour closed executive session was held prior to the vote.
|Quote of the Week|
"This could create gridlock. We had the plan to go to the finish line...This is called the new coalition, the Republicrats."
Some new "visualizations" have been released in California. One change in the map would unify Napa County -- in particular American Canyon. The city had been split from Napa in the first version of maps, at both the Congressional and state legislative level. The visualizations are not final, but will likely guide the next version of maps to be released on July 14. A petition was circulated that gathered 1,100 signatures to stress the city's desire to be reunited with Napa County.
Additionally, the new visualization appears to absorb the 6th Congressional District into a coastal district in Napa. Currently, the 6th District is represented by Lynn Woolsey (D) from San Francisco. She announced this week that she would not seek re-election this year. Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D) and political activist Norman Solomon have already expressed interest in running and opening exploratory committees. The new district would also include current U.S. Representative Mike Thompson.
Continued analysis has shown a possible pick-up for Democrats of 3 to 5 Congressional seats.
The deadline for public comments to the map was Tuesday of this week. Additionally, public hearings ended on the same day, as the commission will now begin working on updated maps for the July 14 deadline.
|Total States with Lawsuits filed: 19|
|Next state deadline?|| Delaware|
June 30, 2011
|Maps submitted for vote: 48 out of 142 (33.8%)**||MS (2), LA (3), AR (1), VA (3), IA (3), NJ (2), MO (1), IN (3), OK (3), TX (3), MN (3), NV (3), NE (2), AL (1), IL (3), OR (3), SC (3), AK (2), MI (3), DE (2)|
|States that have completed Congressional Maps||8 (AR, LA, IA, IN, NE, OK, AL, IL )|
|States that have completed State Legislative Maps||10 (NJ, LA, IA, VA, IN, NE, OK, IL, OR, AK)|
|**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)|
The House passed its redistricting map on Tuesday on a party line vote. House Majority Leader Peter Schwartzkopf said that no substantial changes were made to the map after public hearings were held. Of the 15 Republican House members, 10 voted no and 5 did not vote. Schwartzkopf said he was not surprised by the Republican vote against the map.
On Thursday, the Senate approved both plans, clearing the way for the state to meet its deadline of today when session adjourned. Republicans have contended the maps are gerrymandering, and a lawsuit is possible.
Three weeks after it was passed by the legislature, Governor Pat Quinn signed the new congressional districts map into law on June 24. While Quinn has called it fair and competitive, Republicans see it as anything but. A lawsuit is expected, most likely on the grounds that the map discriminates against Latinos.
On June 29, 2011, U.S. House Representatives Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch each traveled to Boston to personally meet with the two power-brokers in redistricting -- State House rep Michael Moran (D) and State senator Stanley Rosenberg (D), co-chairs of the redistricting committee.
At the June 13, 2011 redistricting committee hearing in Lawrence, a citizens group offered a proposal to legislators that would create additional Latino majority-minority districts in the Massachusetts General Court. The Dominican American National Roundtable offered a version of the maps that would alter the districts currently held by Senators Barry Finegold (D) and Steven Baddour (D). The proposal would move Lawrence from Finegold's district to Baddour's. The two House district proposals would create two Lawrence-based districts each with more than 70 percent of the population composed of Latino voters. Lawrence is New England's most Latino city.
On June 29, 2011, the Michigan State Senate voted 25-13 to send the proposed Congressional map along to Governor Rick Snyder (R). The new maps will provide added representation to the southeast portion of the state. Legal challenges to the new maps are expected -- likely from the Michigan Democratic Party or Congressional Black Caucus.
On June 7, 2011, the NAACP filed notice that it will take its suit to the U.S. Supreme Court. The organization is arguing that the 2011 elections should be blocked because district populations are unbalanced.
The final map of the 2011 Texas redistricting cycle is now awaiting to be signed into law by Governor Rick Perry. The Congressional redistricting plan passed the Senate on last Monday in a 19-12 straight party vote. Already, seven different lawsuits have been filed relating to the redistricting process.
|This Week's Redistricting Highlight|
On Thursday, legislators in Oregon agreed on a compromise map to redraw the five Congressional seats. The map was first approved by the joint committee and then set for votes by the Senate and House. The primary change to the map will expand the 5th District to include Milwaukie and parts of Clackamas County, while losing Oregon State University.
Last month, Vermont took the first steps toward completing its redistricting process -- and possibly creating single-member districts. But a mistake was discovered with the Senate map. According to the Vermont Constitution, there can be only 30 Senators. But the new map the Apportionment Board created had 31 members. A last-minute fix was needed to compensate and fix the error. In order to alleviate the problem, the Board removed a seat from Northeast Kingdom, which would make Orleans a single-seat district. Currently, Vincent Illuzzi (R) and Robert Starr (D) represent that district. Under the new map, they will have to run for the same district.
The new Senate map was approved by a Board vote of 4-2.
An image of the final map is available here.
Democratic state lawmakers, along with members of the Make Our Votes Count Committee, introduced the Redistricting Reform Act on Tuesday. The measure would take the process of drawing maps out of the hands of the legislature and put it into the hands of two nonpartisan agencies. Based on Iowa's model, the Legislative Reference Bureau and Government Accountability Board would be in charge of drawing new congressional and legislative maps, which the legislature would then vote on.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign filed open record requests seeking the proposed maps that have been circulating between a select few Republican legislators, as well as information pertaining to the redistricting process. Republicans have sped up the redistricting process over previous years, which some critics allege is an effort to pass new maps prior to the upcoming recall elections which could give Democrats control over the Senate.
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