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Redistricting Roundup: More maps approved with other deadlines rapidly approaching

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August 5, 2011

Edited by Geoff Pallay

Last Friday, the Arkansas Board of Apportionment approved new state legislative maps by a 2-1 vote. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) and Governor Mike Beebe voted for the maps while Secretary of State Mark Martin (R) was the lone dissenting vote. Among the changes the new maps make:

  • The number of majority-minority districts in the House is reduced from 13 to 11.
  • Most of Fort Smith remains the same. Some of the districts in its area will pick up or lose cities/counties, but the incumbents were largely unaffected. Current Senator Bruce Holland (R) will have a newly created District 6.
  • Alpena, a town of 392 residents, is split between three separate Senate districts.
  • The new map pits 5 House Democrats and 8 House Republicans against sitting incumbents in a re-election bid. House representatives Linda Collins-Smith (D) and Lori Benedict (R) have been drawn into the same district. If they both run for re-election in 2012 they will face one another in the general election (assuming they survive the primary).

In the 2010 elections, Republicans made large gains in both the Senate and House. Republicans picked up 7 seats in the Senate and 17 seats in the House. Meanwhile, in the 2012 elections, all 35 Senate seats and 100 House seats will be up for election. Combined with the fact that Arkansas has term limits, the state will likely be a toss-up for majority control in 2012.

There will be 7 Democratic state senators termed out in 2012 and only 3 Republicans. Meanwhile, 19 House Democrats are termed out while only 4 Republican representatives are ineligible for to run for re-election. Expect fireworks in the 2012 legislative elections in Arkansas.

Arizona

Yesterday Attorney General Tom Horne (R) sent out a press release regarding his investigation into a possible open meetings violation by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC). Horne said, “My office will be relentless in pursuing the facts, and no commissioner will succeed in attempting to hide relevant facts.” Horne’s reaction came after commissioner Jose Herrera stated he would not answer any questions from the Attorney General’s office.

Throughout the course of public hearings, residents have also stressed a desire to see more competitive legislative and congressional districts. The final public hearing will take place tomorrow in Tucson. More public hearings will be held once a set of draft maps have been generated.

In a scheduling snafu on Monday, more than 100 residents in northern Arizona attended a public input hearing in Flagstaff -- only to find that no actual commissioners were present. The commissioners had accidentally mixed up which ones were going to attend. However, commissioner Herrera was able to attend virtually using Skype. About three dozen residents testified at the meeting, with most specifying that they preferred maintaining communities of interest in the maps.


Quote of the Week
"The Voting Rights Act is designed to level the playing field, not to provide a slam dunk to African-American candidates."[1]

-- U.S. Representative Mel Watt, current elected official for the 12th Congressional district in North Carolina

California

As reaction continues regarding the approved Congressional and legislative maps, the commission expects lawsuits to be on the way. The general consensus has been that the maps are going to hurt Republicans. The commission will vote on the maps on August 15.

Meanwhile, a quirky situation has resulted from the maps, as about 186,000 residents in Coachella Valley will go two years without a traditional state senator representing them. In California, Senators are elected to 4-year terms, with half of the 40 seats up every 2 years (rotating based on even/odd districts). Because the valley will now be in the new 28th Senate district, and it previously was in the 37th District, those voters will have a “steward” representing them until the 2014 elections. The 37th District is currently represented by Bill Emmerson (R), who after the 2010 census data had the most constituents of any state legislator in the country -- $1,215,876.

Colorado

Redistricting kicks back up again in Colorado, this time with commissioners beginning work on the process to redraw General Assembly districts. Earlier this year, a tumultuous Congressional redistricting process ended in a stalemate, with a court hearing slated for October 17, 2011. Yesterday, the Colorado Reapportionment Commission held the first public hearing to gather input on the process. The Commission will go to 20 total cities to hear from citizens. The commission must submit final maps to the Supreme Court in October. The court must then ensure that a completed map arrives at the Secretary of State by December 14, 2011.

Redistricting Facts
Total States with Lawsuits filed: 21
Next state deadline? California
August 15, 2011
Maps submitted for vote: 57 out of 142 (40.1%)** AK (2), AL (1), AR (3), DE (2), IA (3), IL (3), IN (3), LA (3), MI (3), MN (3), MO (1), MS (2), NC (3), NE (2), NJ (2), NV (3), OK (3), OR (3), SC (3), TX (3), VA (3), WI (3), WV (1)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 10 (AR, LA, IA, IN, NE, NC, OK, AL, IL, TX), SC)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 11 (AK, IL, IN, IA, LA, NE, NJ, NC, OK, OR, TX, VA), (AR
**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)

Georgia

The Georgia General Assembly will start a special session on August 15 devoted to redistricting. The legislature will also consider revisions to the state’s sunshine laws. This is the first time in Georgia’s history that Republicans have controlled the redistricting process.

Hawaii

On Wednesday, the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission released its redistricting plans. The commission released two draft Congressional plans and one plan each for the House and Senate. The committee is expected to approve three draft plans today, eliminating one of the proposed Congressional maps. The legislative plans will not pair any state senators, but will draw three pairs of state representatives in the same districts. The deadline for preliminary plan approval was August 8 while the deadline for final approval is September 26.

  • The draft maps can be found here.
  • A list of paired incumbents can be found here.

Idaho

Each party on Idaho’s bi-partisan redistricting commission has released its legislative redistricting proposals. Since the committee was not permitted to consider legislator residence, both plans pair a large number of incumbents. The Republican proposal would draw 41 legislators into districts with other incumbents, 32 Republicans and 9 Democrats. The Democratic proposal would draw 32 legislators into districts with other incumbents, 26 Republicans and 6 Democrats. Some critics have alleged that the GOP plan is designed to target moderate-Republicans who opposed Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s (R) education reform plan. Republican Commissioner Lou Esposito rejected the suggestion, saying that he didn’t look at the impact on incumbents until after the plan was drafted. Five of the “targeted” senators would also face an incumbent under the Democratic plan.

Kansas

A new Congressional plan, rumored to be the GOP proposal, is circulating the state. The plan would add an arm to the 1st District, reaching over the 2nd District to encompass the northeast corner of the state. The arm would join the rural western half of the state with the Kansas City. Democrats quickly decried the plan, accusing it of doing "a disservice" to both regions in a Republican attempt to "dominate" the state. US Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R) of District 1 said he's "confident our representatives will work to preserve the character of the First District.”

  • See the full plan here.

Maine

On Thursday, Governor Paul LePage (R) called a special session for legislators to deal with redistricting, starting on September 27. A bipartisan commission will create a map and submit it to legislators for a vote during the session.

Nevada

After vetoes by Governor Brian Sandoval (R) led to the legislature's failure to create maps, Judge Todd Russell appointed a panel of three masters to generate maps. The following individuals are serving on the panel:

  • Alan Glover, Carson Clerk/Recorder
  • Tom Sheets, Las Vegas lawyer
  • Bob Erickson, former director of Legislative Counsel Bureau's Research Division

A hearing will occur on September 19, 2011 to resolve any remaining legal issues and provide instructions to the panel. All panel meetings will be open to the public.

New Hampshire

Legislative leadership hinted at a possible special session in Fall 2011 to handle redistricting. House representative Paul Mirski (R) said he was concerned that some cities would not complete their ward maps in time for the legislature to draw new Senate and House districts. The special session would likely be called in late September 2011, according to House speaker William O'Brien (R).

This Week's Redistricting Highlight

Using a method developed by Charlie Cook, Catawba College Professor Michael Bitzer calculated the political make-up of the finalized North Carolina districts. Using the presidential vote in 2004 and 2008, he divided seats into "likely," "lean," and "toss-up." In the House, Bitzer found that 36 of the new districts are likely Republican wins while 30 are likely Democratic wins. In addition, he found that 37 seats lean Republican while only six seats lean Democrat. Overall, 11 House seats are toss-ups. In the State Senate, Bitzer identified 14 districts that are likely wins for each party. However, he identified 17 seats that lean Republican while only two seats lean Democrat. There are three Senate toss-ups.

In other news, a lawsuit over North Carolina’s Congressional redistricting is expected, challenging the state’s new Voting Rights Act districts. The likely target of the suit is the state’s 12th District. Earlier in the year the NAACP threatened a lawsuit, calling the plans "regressive" and "shameful."

  • A map of District 12 can be found here.

Ohio

US Rep. Jim Jordan may be targeted in redistricting following his opposition to the recently passed debt ceiling plan. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, also an Ohio Congressman, backed the bill as a compromise between the House, Senate, and President over the federal debt ceiling. In addition to his personal vote against the plan, it was discovered that a staffer for the Republican Study Committee (headed by Jordan) had emailed conservative groups to rally opposition to the bill. Jordan has since apologized for the staffer's actions, but his opposition to the plan may cost him his Congressional seat. Ohio must shed two U.S. House districts. Although Republican lawmakers control the process, it may be hard to eliminate two Democratic districts for demographic reasons. Speculation has been that one Democratic and one Republican incumbent will be boxed out of their districts when the maps are released.

At a recent redistricting meeting in Lima, Ohio, residents backed Jordan and criticized efforts to eliminate his district. One lawmaker present at the meeting described it as a "love-fest" for the embattled Congressman. Legislative redistricting committee chairs, Rep. Matt Huffman (R) and Sen. Keith Faber, have attempted to downplay the rumor. Faber argued that targeting Jordan may not even be geographically possible.

In legislative redistricting news, the Ohio Apportionment Board has decided not to approve tentative maps prior to the last public meeting. The committee's next voting session falls after the public hearings and just four days prior to the final plan deadline.

Oregon

The litigation deadline for lawsuits over legislative districts was Monday, August 1, 2011. No lawsuits were filed, although complaints delivered by mail could be could admitted if post-marked by deadline.

Since the earlier GOP suit was contingent on the failure of the legislative process, it will not proceed. This is the first time in more than 50 years that no lawsuit was filed pertaining to the redistricting process. Legal rulings were needed in all 5 redistricting processes between 1961-2001.

South Carolina

On Monday, Governor Nikki Haley (R) signed the Congressional map. The new district is expected to be a "lock" for a GOP candidate.

Texas

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office filed a brief in the US District Court of the District of Columbia on Wednesday, arguing against the attempt of two Democratic legislators to join the federal case over Texas's pre-clearance. State Representative Marc Veasey (D) and State Senator Wendy Davis (D) filed a motion to join the case days after Texas submitted its redistricting plans to the federal three-judge panel for pre-clearance review. Lawyers with the Texas Attorney General office argued that the Democratic lawmakers have no federal standing because similar lawsuits were already filed in Texas.

West Virginia

On Thursday, the West Virginia Senate Redistricting Committee recommended the so-called “Mason County flip” for the state’s new Congressional districts. The plan would keep county lines intact by moving Mason County from the 2nd to the 3rd District. The plan was submitted to the committee by a Wheeling resident, Robert Miller. The county-preserving plan was favored over another, more compact plan.

Under the earlier, computer-generated plan, Republican Reps. Shelly Moore Capito and David McKinley would both be drawn inside District 1. The plan would have split Kanawha County between the 1st and 2nd Districts, shifting Charleston into District 1. This would have moved Capito's residence to the 1st District (currently represented by McKinley). The proposed change drew backlash from state Republicans. Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler (D) has predicted that the Senate will approve the Mason County plan.

  • A draft of the Congressional map can be found here.

In other news, the West Virginia State Senate passed a proposed Senate plan, 28-4. Three Democrats and one Republican opposed the plan. Opposition came from the southern part of the state. The plan largely preserves county lines and existing districts. The plan now moves to the West Virginia House of Delegates.

  • A copy of the Senate plan can be found here.

In the House, the Redistricting Committee has approved a proposal for House of Delegates districts. The bill, which has moved to the full House, will increase the number of single-member districts around the state from 36 to 47. However, an amendment to increase the number of single-member districts lost a floor vote, 39-61. A final House vote is expected today.

  • A draft of the House plan can be found here.

Virginia

The State Board of Elections will be sending out new voter information cards for those affected by redistricting. The cards are being sent out in advance of the August 23 primary election. For primary and general election coverage see the links below:

See also