National Redistricting News

May 2001 - June 2001

  • Roll Call: "Between the Lines." June 25, 2001
  • Los Angeles Times : "Federal Inmates Counted in Redistricting Plan." June 21, 2001
  • The Washington Post : "Redistricting May Unseat 6 Democrats GOP Leaders in Michigan, Pennsylvania Legislatures Use Drafting Advantage in Battle for House." June 19, 2001
  • Christian Science Monitor : Remuddling the House Needed: Smaller Districts and no 'Safe Seats'." June 19, 2001
  • Roll Call: "Between the Lines." June 18, 2001  
  • Roll Call: "Between the Lines." June 11, 2001 
  • Roll Call: "Between the Lines." June 4, 2001
  • Roll Call: "Between the Lines."  May 21, 2001
  • Roll Call: "Between the Lines."  May 14, 2001
  • "Have Map Tools, Will Redistrict." May 11, 2001

    More redistricting news


Roll Call
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio
June 25, 2001

Keystone Capers

Pennsylvania, widely considered a potential redistricting jackpot for House Republicans, is apparently living up to expectations. Republicans, who control the state Legislature and governor's office, last week floated a map that could eliminate as many as three Democrats from the state's House delegation.

The plan, which is required to cut two of the delegation's 21 House seats, would be a blow to five Democrats in particular, combining the districts of Reps. Mike Doyle and William Coyne, merging the territory of Reps. Tim Holden and Paul Kanjorski, and dividing Rep. Joseph Hoeffel's district into several pieces.

Rep. Bob Borski (D) and Rep. Pat Toomey (R) would each pick up voters from Hoeffel. The remainder of Montgomery County would be added to parts of Chester and Berks counties to create a new district in which state Sen. Jim Gerlach (R) is expected to run.

Vowing to challenge any GOP plan in court, Doyle called the proposed map the "delusional dreams of people in Harrisburg who have way too much time on their hands.

"If and when they get around to doing a map, it's going to go to court because it's going to be blatantly political," he continued. "The state Supreme Court will decide what this map looks like, not these partisans in Harrisburg. They're just having fun trying to give Democrats heartburn, and we're not biting. This is guys around the bar having fun. We'll see them in court."

The new Kanjorski-Holden district appears to include more of Kanjorski's base, but insiders noted that it would include Scranton, which neither Member represents. "If the district is made up mostly of [Holden's] district or of mine, it would not be an equal race and we both might not run," Kanjorski told The Associated Press.

Coyne would be slightly favored over Doyle in a new district, but both Democrats would have bases to run from in a race that would pit the moderate Doyle, a former Republican, against the more liberal Coyne.

Some House Democrats will remain in safe districts, but not many. They are Reps. John Murtha, Frank Mascara, Chaka Fattah and Robert Brady.

Freshman Rep. Melissa Hart's (R) swing district will be moved almost entirely into Allegheny County, a GOP stronghold, giving Mascara most of her Democratic turf. The district would resemble the old seat Republicans created to defeat then Rep. Doug Walgren (D) back in 1982 except that it's even more Republican now.

Murtha would pick up almost all of Westmoreland and Fayette counties and move into the Allegheny Valley, which is part of Allegheny County. Rep. John Peterson would move south into Armstrong and Indiana counties. New Rep. Bill Shuster (R) would move west into Somerset County and part of Cambria County, while Rep. Don Sherwood would shed competitive Lackawanna County in exchange for GOP territory west and south. In Philadelphia, the survival of Brady and Fattah would come at the expense of Borski, who surrenders a couple of hundred thousand residents to his colleagues to make up for their population losses under the plan.

Democrats in Harrisburg acknowledged they can do little to stop the Legislature from passing the map, but still plan to challenge the new districts in court.

"We cannot stop this juggernaut driven by the Republican ... control of the Legislature and governor's office," state House Minority Leader William DeWeese (D) told the Harrisburg Patriot-News last week. "Our most fervent hope is that the U.S. federal courts will step in and restore fairness to this politically driven process."

Very, Very Special.

Georgia will take up Congressional redistricting in one of two special sessions beginning Aug. 1, Gov. Roy Barnes (D) announced last week.

The state Legislature traditionally has dealt with both Congressional and state legislative plans in a single session. A Barnes spokeswoman said the governor hatched this plan to allow legislators to focus exclusively on legislative districts in one session and Congressional lines in the other.

However, state Senate Minority Leader Eric Johnson (R) said Barnes' decision to separate the two was designed to prevent the Legislature's two minority groups, African-Americans and Republicans, from joining forces to barter their votes on one plan for concessions on the other.

Redistricting insiders expect the state to undergo a particularly interesting remap in which Democrats who control the process will try to stem the dramatic growth of Republicans in most suburbs. Georgia gained two House seats in reapportionment.

The remap could affect more than the state's House Members. Some House Republicans, bracing for a "Democratic gerrymander" that would force them into hostile new districts, say such a scenario may prompt them to challenge Sen. Max Cleland (D) or Barnes in 2002, rather than face tough re-election contests.

Leach Makes It Official.

Drawn out of his lifelong home base of Davenport, Rep. Jim Leach (R) announced last week that he would move to Iowa City, where he'll run in a new, Democratic-leaning district.

In a prepared statement, Leach said the decision to move was "particularly difficult because of the strong attachment my family has to Scott County, where I was born and raised."

Leach, a 13-term moderate, made his announcement following the Iowa Legislature's approval last week of a plan drafted by the state's non-partisan Legislative Services Bureau. The plan throws Leach into a district with Rep. Jim Nussle (R), a conservative who will run for re-election in that seat.

However, Leach's troubles may not be over. In the new 2nd district, he could face a general-election battle against Rep. Leonard Boswell (D), who has not decided whether to run in the 2nd or the 3rd, a Democratic stronghold where he would face a primary challenge from state Sen. Matt McCoy (D).

Los Angeles Times
Federal Inmates Counted in Redistricting Plan
June 21, 2001

Inmates are being counted in a redistricting plan.
Most can't vote or participate on community commissions, but the 3,000 prisoners at Lompoc's federal penitentiary will be included in the supervisorial redistricting process.  Supervisor Tom Urbanske made a motion to exclude the prisoner population from the redistricting tally, and it was seconded by board Chairwoman Joni Gray. But it was voted down 3-2. Although felons can't vote, the 3,000 inmates will count in the current census total for the 4th Supervisorial District. The county has 399,347 residents, including the prisoners.

The Washington Post
Redistricting May Unseat 6 Democrats GOP Leaders in Michigan, Pennsylvania Legislatures Use Drafting Advantage in Battle for House
By Thomas B. Edsall
June 19, 2001

Republican leaders in the Michigan and Pennsylvania state legislatures have drafted congressional redistricting plans that could force the elimination of six or more Democratic-held seats in the House of Representatives.

The proposals would cost the Democrats three seats by changing the boundaries of districts because of slow population growth, and would seek to create additional GOP gains by requiring incumbent Democrats to run against each other in redrawn districts.

The two plans, which have not been made public, provide the most dramatic example yet of the contest being waged by the Democrats and Republicans as all 50 states draw new congressional boundaries to reflect shifts in population recorded by the 2000 census.

Michigan and Pennsylvania, two of the largest states, send a combined 37 representatives to the House. They are led by Republican governors and legislatures, a major advantage in the redistricting battle. The GOP plans drafted in the two states illustrate how both parties hope to use their majorities to gain an advantage in redistricting that will affect the composition of the House.

Republicans hold 221 seats to the Democrats' 210, with two independents and two seats vacant.

While Republicans are expected to capitalize on their control of the redistricting process in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well as Ohio and Florida, Democrats contend they will be able to counter these GOP gains in states where they control the process, including Georgia, Indiana and California.

In addition, Iowa appears to be on the verge of adopting a plan giving the Democrats a chance of picking up a seat at the expense of the GOP. In Illinois, however, Democrats appear likely to lose a seat under a recently adopted redistricting plan.

The Michigan GOP plan, the general outlines of which have been leaked to local reporters, has been sharply criticized by state and national Democrats.

It would force Rep. John D. Dingell, the senior Democrat in the House, to run against fellow Democratic Rep. Lynn N. Rivers in a district combining their respective bases in Dearborn and Ann Arbor. In addition, Democratic Reps. Dale E. Kildee of Flint and James A. Barcia of Bay City would be placed in a separate combined district.

In a letter to the legislature's GOP leaders released yesterday, all nine Democratic House members from the state charged that the plan would shift the makeup of the Michigan congressional delegation from its current nine Democrats and seven Republicans to nine Republicans and six Democrats. The plan "denies fair representation to the people of Michigan," the letter said.

In Pennsylvania, Republicans are working on a plan that would force as many as six incumbent Democrats to run against each other, pitting Reps. William J. Coyne against Mike Doyle, Joseph M. Hoeffel III against Robert A. Borski, and Tim Holden against Paul E. Kanjorski, according to sources in both parties.

"They [Republicans] are trying to do as well as they can in those states [Pennsylvania and Michigan]," said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The prospect of a battle between fellow Democrats as a result of the redistricting plan was immediately apparent, even as members of the party pledged to work together. Dingell released a statement declaring, "Let there be no doubt, regardless of the outcome or the fairness of the process, I will find the best district and run for reelection in 2002."

Rivers, Dingell's potential opponent, contended that the GOP plan will not survive a court challenge, but she said in an interview: "I have a very supportive constituency; my expectation is I'm going to be running for reelection."

She argued that because of Democratic strength in Michigan, Republicans are "trying to get through the line-drawing process what they could not get through the vote."

Democratic House leaders have stressed that neither party is likely to make significant gains because of redistricting, even though President Bush carried most of the states gaining seats while vice president Al Gore won in most of the states losing seats.

"Political parity is the most likely outcome: We're at political parity today, and we'll be at political parity after redistricting," IMPAC 2000, the Democratic redistricting project chaired by Rep. Martin Frost (D-Tex.), declares in its press releases.

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (Va.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, counters that Republicans are likely to have a net gain of 10 seats as a result of redistricting, including what he says will be a four-seat gain in Texas.

Texas appears likely to have its new congressional boundaries drawn by the federal courts unless members of the state legislature are able to agree on a plan.

Christian Science Monitor 
Remuddling the House Needed: Smaller Districts and no 'Safe Seats'
June 19, 2001

Using population figures from the 2000 Census, state legislators have begun to redraw the boundaries of districts for the US House of Representatives. And, as has happened ever since Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry created a salamander-shaped district for his party in 1812, cries of "gerrymandering" will be hooted about in this decidedly political, once-a-decade process. This time around, political pressures could be stronger than ever. Republicans hold only a slight advantage in the 435-seat House, as the two parties try to influence how each of the nation's 50 state houses will draw the new lines.

The outcome likely will shift the power balance in Washington after the 2002 election, and perhaps for the next decade. Redrawing districts is, of course, necessary to accommodate shifting populations. Eight states, for instance, will be losing House seats. But more than ever, high-speed computers and the use of fine-grain demographic data from the census will allow politicians to concoct new districts that cater to incumbents and clump "types" of voters by ethnicity, political affiliation, or other stereotyping criteria. Many districts could wind up being fundamentally noncompetitive, ensuring that most Americans will be represented by one of the major parties for at least the next 10 years.

So intense is this battle, that more lawsuits may be filed this time around than 10 years ago, when more than 40 states saw litigation related to redistricting. Does this process ensure fair and equal representation of voters? Mostly, but not enough. Creating districts according to demographic "commonalities" rather than easy-to-understand geography does not promote a healthy pluralistic society. It divides rather than unites, lessening diversity. If the public wants more fairness, the public will have to participate. One way to curb this "safe seat" nonsense is for citizens to monitor the work of their state legislators by designing their own ideal district maps, using the census data and simple computer software. Some states even distribute this software for free.

Such alternative districting will help reduce the mystery of the process, which many politicians would like to perpetuate. Citizens may also want to bring up another issue about their districts. The population count for each district has become too big. The average size now hovers around 650,000 - or triple the number in 1910 - proof that congressional representatives are ever more removed from the people. When the US population was growing from the Civil War to 1910, the House grew along with it - by 40 members or so every 10 years. Then, the growth stopped. The statute that mandates the House have 435 members should be changed. That - along with voters demanding House districts be based on simple geographic areas reflecting local diversity - will help ensure more effective political representation in Congress. 

Roll Call
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio
June 18, 2001

And They're Off!

One day after the Nevada Legislature passed a new House map, one top Democrat officially joined the race for a new House seat crafted by legislators as a swing district.

Clark County Commission Chairman Dario Herrera (D) planned to file his candidacy Friday to run in the new 3rd, a T-shaped suburban district with voter strength evenly divided between the two parties. Republicans expect state Sen. Jon Porter (R), who took a leading role in shaping the district in Carson City, to run there.

The 3rd, which Nevada gained in reapportionment, surrounds but does not include the city of Las Vegas. Gov. Kenny Guinn (R) intends to sign the map into law.

The legislators protected both sitting House Members by solidifying Rep. Shelley Berkley's (D) base in Las Vegas and Rep. Jim Gibbons' (R) district in the state's rural reaches.

"Obviously, this district is tailor-made for me," Berkley said Friday. "It exceeds my expectations. I'm very delighted."

Berkley's 1st district is now 49 percent Democratic and 34 percent Republican. Gibbons' 2nd district is 36 percent Democratic and 47 percent Republican. Each major party starts with about 42 percent of voters in the new 3rd.

While they may face intraparty challengers, Herrera and Porter are likely to be favored in their respective primaries. Herrera, 28, has secured the support of most party leaders, including former Gov. Bob Miller and ex-Sen. Richard Bryan, and has already raised about $200,000. Porter, who lost a 2000 challenge to Berkley by 8 points, has been urged to run by GOP activists. He has a kick-off fundraiser scheduled for June 28.

"I have a very strong base in the southern part of Clark County, and the vast majority of my [commission] district makes up a vast portion of the [House] district," Herrera said by phone from Chicago, where he held a fundraiser last Wednesday evening that yielded $20,000.

Other Democrats who may gun for the new 3rd include Clark Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates, although Gates now lives in Berkeley's new district. Echoing the sentiments of many party leaders, however, Berkley said Herrera's early strength will likely discourage other Democrats from running.

"In the final analysis, [Democrats] are going to weigh the consequences of a brutal primary, and one of these candidates is going to emerge as the strongest and the most likely to win," observed Berkley, a Herrera ally who nonetheless has not endorsed him. "I suspect we will all rally around that candidate, and I suspect that will be Dario."

Kildee vs. Barcia? Dingell vs. Rivers?

Envisioning a possible gain of three House seats through redistricting, Republicans who control the process in Michigan are floating a new map that could squeeze four Democratic incumbents into two districts.

Although details of the new plan remained sketchy last week, key sources said the map would force Democratic Reps. Dale Kildee and James Barcia into the same Flint-area district northwest of Detroit. It also would place Rep. John Dingell, the House dean, and four-term Rep. Lynn Rivers into a district south of the city.

None of the House Democrats anticipated they would face one another when all was said and done, arguing that the proposal is just an opening shot in a battle likely to end up in court. "This is the first step in a very long dance," Rivers said.

Michigan is losing one of its 16 House seats in reapportionment.

Led by Dingell, House Democrats met privately in Washington last Thursday to discuss the GOP plan. Democrats are working on their own version, which they hope to present to the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Barcia, first elected in 1992, said Friday that he's keeping his options open, but is inclined to seek re-election in a district that does not include Kildee. "I'm hopeful that this plan won't be the final plan; this is the initial round," he said, predicting Democrats could mount a "successful legal challenge" to this proposal if it were to become law.

Rivers warned state Republicans to resist "overly partisan or manipulative" moves that could be received poorly by voters.

Republicans "have to look at the possibility of a backlash," she said. "If it's perceived that they're becoming greedy or unfair, there's a possibility for the public to become very unhappy with the GOP. That could have a number of repercussions. They're walking a tightrope too."

The GOP expects to pick up a third seat by seizing or eliminating the seat held by Minority Whip David Bonior. Following GOP threats to erase his district, Bonior announced he would retire to run for governor. Bonior has denied that his decision was motivated by the GOP redistricting threats.

Oregon Map Goes to Court.

Rejecting Gov. John Kitzhaber's (D) demand for a House map with bipartisan backing, Oregon's GOP-controlled Legislature passed a redistricting plan along party lines that would remove Rep. David Wu (D) from his Portland-based 1st district.

Kitzhaber, who's eyeing a challenge to Sen. Gordon Smith (R), has vowed to veto the bill, a move that could ultimately throw the state's redistricting process into the courts. Kitzhaber's veto, which would be his first this session, would send the plan to Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury (D), but Republicans would likely challenge his decision in court.

"We are counting on the governor's veto," said Wu, who is drawn into a district with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) under the GOP plan.

The sticking point is the roughly 25,000 voters in the Portland area. Republicans want to move some Multnomah County voters, mostly Democrats, from Wu's district to an adjacent one, a move that could make life tougher for Wu. Democrats want to keep most of those voters in his district.

"Our plan meets all the requirements, and it's dead legal," state Sen. Steve Harper (R) told the Oregonian newspaper. "This is as clean as we can possibly get."

Wu clearly disagrees. In an interview last Thursday, he called the Republican plan "raw politics" that "does violence" to local communities. "I hope Republicans come to their senses and accept a Democratic plan. All we need is some bare-bones population adjustment."

Movin' On Up.

Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) suggested last week that he's preparing to relocate north to Des Moines from his home in southern Iowa, a move that would help him avoid a tough race against Rep. Jim Leach (R) in the newly drawn 2nd district.

"I've been claiming [Des Moines-based] Polk County, or at least a piece of it, for a long, long time," Boswell told a business and civic group. He later said in an interview with the Des Moines Register that he is "comfortable" in Des Moines. "I feel a pretty close attachment to Polk County."

The Iowa Legislature is widely expected to approve a new House map Tuesday that dramatically reconfigures the district boundaries for the state's five House seats.

Rep. Jim Nussle (R) plans to run in the new 1st, a GOP stronghold. Leach may move to Iowa City to run in the new 2nd, a swing district that leans Democratic.

If he moves, Boswell would run in the new 3rd. However, a spokeswoman said Friday that he's keeping his options open until the state Legislature approves the proposal (the second House map drafted by the state's non-partisan Legislative Services Bureau). Boswell also may run in the 2nd against Leach.

Rep. Tom Latham (R) may run in the 4th or 5th districts. But he is also looking at a Senate bid, which would force him into a GOP primary against Rep. Greg Ganske.

Boswell apparently would not face a clear Democratic field in the new 3rd district. State Sen. Matt McCoy of Des Moines, who has already set up a House campaign committee for the new 3rd district seat, said he won't quit the House race, even if Boswell moves to his town.


Roll Call
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio
June 11, 2001

Boswell-Leach Face-Off?

Prospects for a GOP showdown between Iowa Reps. Jim Leach and Jim Nussle dwindled last Wednesday when Leach ruled out running against his colleague in any district, regardless of how a new map of Congressional district lines is drawn. But a Member versus Member race in Iowa remains possible.

The state's non-partisan Legislative Services Bureau unveiled a second House map that, like its first draft, dramatically reconfigures the state's five districts and again has thrown Members into a game of political chicken. Despite widespread shock at how much this map also reshapes the landscape, the second plan is expected to be adopted.

Nussle, whose conservative base would position him well in a GOP primary with the more moderate Leach, intends to run in the new 1st. A potential swing seat, the district includes 10 counties Nussle currently represents in the northeast reaches and two localities now held by Leach.

Leach, who has said he won't retire in 2002, now may run against Rep. Leonard Boswell, the House delegation's lone Democrat, whose Decatur County home was drawn into the new, GOP-leaning 5th district in western Iowa. Boswell, whose 3rd district was redistributed among four new seats, may move into the reconfigured 2nd in southeast Iowa, where voter registration tilts toward Democrats.

To avoid facing Nussle, Leach, a 13-term House Member and lifelong Davenport resident, is "strongly considering" moving about 40 miles west to Iowa City, which could place him in the new 2nd with Boswell, said Leach Chief of Staff Bill Tate.

During a meeting last Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Tate said, Reps. Leach, Nussle and Tom Latham (R) agreed to avoid a GOP face-off at all costs. "Everyone agreed that a primary between two Republican incumbents would be very counterproductive. Whatever decisions were reached, that would not be an option."

For his part, Latham plans to run in the new 4th, a 28-county district that cuts through central Iowa and has a strong Republican base.

The delegation's fifth House Member, Rep. Greg Ganske (R), is challenging Sen. Tom Harkin (D).

The new 2nd district includes roughly 64 percent of the constituents in Leach's current district and nearly 40 percent of Boswell's base. The Republican has represented all of the new 2nd except Wayne County at some point in his 25-year House career, Tate said.

"He has had a very cordial and constructive relationship for as long as Mr. Boswell has been in Congress, so he would be a formidable opponent," Tate said.

However, Boswell Chief of Staff Aaron Pickrell said the Democrat also may remain in the new 5th, which includes his home in Decatur County, despite its strong GOP tilt. However, the lawmaker could also run in the new 3rd, a swing district with a strong Democratic base in Des Moines. Iowa Secretary of State Chet Culver (D) also may run in the new 3rd.

If he does run in the new 5th, Boswell could face state House Speaker Brent Siegrist (R). Siegrist, who opposed the bureau's first map, said he is likely to run in the sprawling district.

Silver State Remap.

Hindered by Democratic hopes of securing an edge in Nevada's new district, the state's divided Legislature adjourned last week without a House map. Gov. Kenny Guinn (R) will call a special session this summer to tackle the issue.

State Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins (D) said Democrats want the new 3rd district to have a 51 to 49 percent split, with a slight advantage going to them. He wanted roughly 8,500 more registered Democrats in the district, which by law must contain close to 666,000 residents.

With hours to go before a scheduled June 4 adjournment, state Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio (R) rejected Perkins' proposal, saying the new district must be evenly divided between the parties. "Both sides ought to be committed to fairness," Raggio said, noting that Nevada is almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

Regardless of the outcome of the special session, it appears that Rep. Shelley Berkley (D), a favorite GOP target, will emerge from redistricting with a solidified Democratic base in a Las Vegas district. Republicans had threatened to draw her into a rural, GOP-leaning seat. Rep. Jim Gibbons (R) is all but certain to continue to run in a GOP stronghold.

The new district, which Nevada gained in reapportionment, is likely to include the homes of state Sen. Jon Porter, the GOP challenger to Berkley last year, and Clark County Commission Chairman Dario Herrera (D). Both Porter and Herrera are gearing up to run in the new open seat.

Guinn intends to announce the schedule for the special session this week.

Hilliard Backs Alabama Plan (Sort Of).

Having secured reluctant support from Rep. Earl Hilliard (D), the Alabama House delegation has unanimously endorsed a redistricting plan that protects all seven House incumbents.

Hilliard, the delegation's only African-American and one of just two Democrats, signed on after Members agreed that his Birmingham-based district would not add to its existing 14 counties. An earlier proposed map had the 7th district picking up Bibb County, currently split between GOP Reps. Bob Riley and Spencer Bachus.

Instead, Hilliard's district would acquire all of Pickens County, west of Tuscaloosa, and Clarke County, north of Mobile. He represents parts of those counties now.

"It's something I can live with," Hilliard told The Associated Press.

The lawmaker's reluctance stemmed in part from pressure he's receiving from national Democrats to oppose the plan, which protects five House Republicans and just two Democrats. Specifically, Democrats, who control the Legislature and governor's office, hope to maximize their presence in the House by carving up Riley's 3rd district in eastern Alabama. Riley may run for governor next year.

However, Republicans said such a move could be a "hard sell."

"If the Democratic Legislature wants to go in and overwhelmingly change the boundaries, it's going to be a hard sell," said Riley's spokesman, Pepper Bryars. "The Republicans have worked hard, built consensus in those districts, and now the Democrats want to change them all around? I don't think that's defensible."

Old Line State Draws New Lines.

One day after targeted Rep. Connie Morella (R) said she'll fight to hold her district, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening (D) assembled a redistricting task force stacked heavily with Democrats.

Maryland Democrats, who control the state Legislature and the remap process, are gunning for Morella, who last week opted to forgo a 2002 gubernatorial bid to run for re-election in her Montgomery County district, a heavily Democratic seat that has nonetheless elected Morella since 1986. A widely circulated plan would move her district southeast into several majority-minority precincts currently represented by Rep. Al Wynn (D).

The governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee will be headed by Maryland Secretary of State John Willis, a longtime Glendening political adviser and an expert on Maryland elections.

The three other Democrats are state House Speaker Casper Taylor Jr., state Senate President Mike Miller and Isiah Leggett, a councilman in Morella's base of Montgomery County. The lone Republican is Louise Gulyas, a Worcester County commissioner.

Roll Call
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio
June 4, 2001

Frost on Hold.

Although other House Democratic leaders have already neatly resolved their redistricting headaches back home, Democratic Caucus Chairman Martin Frost watched last week as a Texas remapping session fell apart in a contentious process that appeared to be headed for the courts.

That might not be such bad news for Frost, whose Fort Worth-based district ranks as a top GOP target in a process dominated, but not solely controlled by, Lone Star Republicans.

After several weeks of talks in Austin and D.C., the state's divided Legislature adjourned May 28 without adopting a new House map. Indeed, for the first time in at least 50 years, the Legislature went home without adopting any of the four redistricting plans they are constitutionally required to put together.

A state House committee, chaired by state Rep. Delwin Jones (R), passed a redistricting plan May 26 that aimed to protect incumbents and draw the two new districts Texas gained in reapportionment into north Dallas and the valley in south Texas, a heavily Hispanic area. However, that plan died because the panel's vote came after the deadline for bringing a bill to the floor. The state Senate never approved a map.

Gov. Rick Perry (R) asked legislative leaders to continue working past the session on redistricting, saying he would only schedule a special session if a deal could be reached.

But some lawmakers said an agreement is unlikely unless the 17 Democratic and 13 Republican Members of the state's House delegation can negotiate a deal among themselves - something that has eluded them thus far. If Perry does not call a special session, the matter will move, as Frost has often predicted, to court.

"Frost, like everybody else, is waiting to see what happens," said Greg Speed, a spokesman for the lawmaker. "He's hopeful that the process will move forward and move forward soon because Texas has a very early filing deadline. And this process is running up against that deadline." One of the first in the country, the deadline is in early January 2002.

Targeted by Republicans who run the Missouri Senate, Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D) nonetheless emerged with an even stronger Democratic base in his St. Louis-area district.

Minority Whip David Bonior (D-Mich.) opted out of his state's remap process, announcing last month that he would run for governor rather than endure a round of redistricting run by his GOP foes.

Helping Themselves.

Seeking to aid their most vulnerable colleagues, House Members from Kentucky have unveiled a new map, the main goal of which is to protect Reps. Anne Northup (R), Ernie Fletcher (R) and Ken Lucas (D).

Led by senior Rep. Harold Rogers (R), all six members of the House delegation are supporting a plan that enjoys preliminary support in the state's divided Legislature. Republicans control the state Senate, while Democrats control the state House. Gov. Paul Patton is a Democrat.

"This represents the efforts of all of us here to try to come up with a plan that is fair and bipartisan, and this is," Rogers said.

To help Northup, Members want to move affluent Oldham County, which is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans but has voted solidly for GOP candidates in recent years, from Lucas' 4th district to Northup's 3rd. That would improve Northup's chances of holding her seat, which is currently anchored by Democratic-leaning Louisville.

To further help Fletcher and Lucas, who would also benefit from the Northup proposal, the Members proposed moving three rural counties with Democratic majorities (Harrison, Nicholas and Bath) from Fletcher's district to Lucas' seat.

One sticking point could be the plan to protect Northup. Although it has early support, it is drawing criticism from some Democrats in the state House and Patton aides. Patton's former deputy Cabinet secretary, Jack Conway (D), is eyeing a 2002 challenge to Northup.

Targeting Matheson, Cont.

Utah Republicans continued their assault against lone Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, offering a new House map last week that would reshape his Salt Lake City-based district into one that runs from Idaho to Arizona.

The map, which cleaves the state into three vertical chunks mostly longer than they are wide, would divide Salt Lake County three ways and combine each piece with mostly rural localities. Salt Lake County is one of the few Democratic bastions in Utah.

About two-thirds of the county's population of nearly 900,000 would join with the residents of nine rural counties to form a new 2nd district for Matheson.

"I think this wholesale disruption is motivated by partisanship," the Congressman told reporters during a news conference at the state Capitol, after voicing similar complaints to lawmakers in the state's GOP-controlled Legislature.

For his part, Matheson wants back the Salt Lake City neighborhoods of Rose Park and Glendale that were stripped from his district 10 years ago, diluting its Democratic strength.

The map, which dramatically reconfigures all three House districts in Utah, was drafted by Rep. Jim Hansen (R) and has been endorsed by Rep. Christopher Cannon (R).

The state's Redistricting Task Force has until September to equalize the population of all three districts.

Roll Call
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio
May 21, 2001

Not-so-Bloody 8th?

In a surprising reversal, Indiana House Speaker John Gregg (D) announced last week that he would not seek to challenge Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) in 2002, despite the fact that Hostettler's Evansville-based seat will be moved north to include more Democratic territory in Vigo County.

After months of speculation that the new district would be drawn to favor a Gregg candidacy, the House Speaker stepped aside, citing the desire to be close to his wife and two young sons.

The Democrat said he decided against running for Congress during a state legislative session that prevented him from attending one of his son's baseball practices.

"I thought, you know, I'm not going to do it," he said, according to The Associated Press. "I've got no regrets."

Hostettler has survived a number of tough re-election fights since he was first elected to the so-called "Bloody 8th" in the Republican revolution of 1994. He suggested to the Howey Political Report, a non-partisan newsletter, that Gregg's reasons for not running are political and that the Democrat wants to run for lieutenant governor on a ticket with current Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan (D) in 2004. He also pointed to the competitive nature of Gregg's state House seat.

Indiana Democrats contend they have a "deep bench" to replace Gregg in the 8th district race, including state Reps. Susan Crosby, Jonathan Weinzapfel (the 1996 nominee who took 48 percent of the vote), David Crooks and Russ Stillwell. Dr. Paul Perry, the 1998 nominee, is also a possibility.

Ramstad vs. Kennedy?

Two weeks after Minnesota Republicans released a map throwing two House Democrats into the same Minneapolis-area district, Democrats countered with a plan pitting GOP Reps. Jim Ramstad and Mark Kennedy against each other.

The Democrats' map would put both Kennedy and Ramstad in a new 3rd district and leave a new 2nd district with no incumbent. The map also would leave Minneapolis and St. Paul in separate districts, challenging the Republican plan to combine the two Democratic strongholds into one House seat for the first time in 100 years.

Republicans recently proposed a map that would place Democratic Reps. Bill Luther and Betty McCollum in the same seat.

"These plans are all clearly partisan," said Michael Brodkorb, the redistricting specialist for the Senate Republican caucus.

Redistricting insiders expect the Minnesota remapping process to rank among the cycle's most unwieldy, if only because no political party will dominate the process. Democrats control the state Senate, Republicans run the state House, and Gov. Jesse Ventura is an Independent.

Kennedy spokesman Randy Skoglund sought to downplay the significance of the Democrats' plan, noting that the "vast majority" of the House maps in the 20th century were ultimately drawn by state courts. "To be quite honest, we haven't been paying attention to each plan that comes out," he said. "There have just been so many of them."

Oklahoma Coup Fails.

Oklahoma House Speaker Larry Adair (D) narrowly survived a move to oust him last week by Republicans and some Democrats who were disgruntled about Adair's handling of the state's legislative redistricting process.

The 101-member state House voted 50-50 to remove Adair and replace him with state House Minority Leader Fred Morgan (R). One member, former Speaker Loyd Benson (D), was absent. Republicans, who hold 48 seats in the lower chamber, needed 51 votes. But only two Democrats, state Reps. Mike Ervin and Ron Langmacher, voted with them.

Republicans had counted on the support of two other Democratic lawmakers, who had voiced displeasure this month over new districts drawn in a map embraced by Adair.

Democrats, who control both chambers of the Legislature in Oklahoma but not by majorities that could override Gov. Frank Keating's (R) veto, will redraw the Congressional map later this year. The state's six-Member delegation loses one House seat under reapportionment, and redistricting insiders have speculated that Democrats would throw two House Republicans into one district.

However, there were signs late last week that the Republicans will rekindle their move to take control of the lower chamber before the state Legislature takes up the Congressional remap.

"My goal is for the Republicans to control the Legislature - at least the House," Morgan said. "My caucus elected me to take them to the majority."

Buyer vs. Kerns vs. Young?

A likely primary brawl between two House Republicans who were thrown into the same Indiana district may turn into a three-way matchup.

State Sen. Michael Young (R) said last week he'll form an exploratory committee next month for a House race in the state's new 4th district. Reps. Brian Kerns (R) and Steve Buyer (R) have both said they will run in the 4th, despite pleas from party leaders to reach a compromise.

Young, a political consultant who owns a rental-housing business, was elected to the Senate last year after serving 14 years in the state House. His legislative district includes Johnson, Marion and Morgan counties, most of which are in the new 4th.

"I'm not running against them, they're running against me," Young said in an interview Thursday. "I've represented more of this district for a longer period of time than either of them. Kerns lives 70 miles away, and Buyer has never been elected in the 4th except for 18 little precincts. ... Voters know who the other two guys are, but they consider me family."

Matheson, City Boy.

Still smarting from the fact that Democrats were able to put a chink in their delegation's partisan GOP armor, Utah Republicans are floating a remap plan that would stretch freshman Rep. Jim Matheson's (D) Salt Lake City-based district into the state's rural reaches.

Matheson easily carried the swing 2nd district last November after Republicans dumped then Rep. Merrill Cook in the GOP primary. Since then, however, he has ranked atop the list of vulnerable House Members, mostly because he faces a round of redistricting completely controlled by state Republicans.

Continuing a trend that began 10 years ago, when remapping agents moved part of the 2nd into the eastern 3rd district, Republicans now want to further increase the rural nature of the state's most urban district.

"We won't have anybody who has just an urban district because that's caused a lot of conflict in the past," Rep. Christopher Cannon (R) told the Salt Lake Tribune. Cannon and Rep. James Hansen (R) met recently with state GOP leaders to discuss their urban-rural proposal.

"So we'll see some fairly significant readjustments in rural [areas] and Salt Lake. And with any luck I will get a significantly larger portion of Salt Lake County myself," Cannon added.

Matheson has said he would sue if state Republicans unfairly attempt to draw him out of office.

"It depends on how radical they want to be," he said. "There's got to be some test of reasonableness." The Democrat said the new map should incur a "minimal disruption of existing lines," adding that it's reasonable to keep the district within a single county.

Roll Call
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio
May 14, 2001

Shouting Thomas, Cont.

Rep. Jerry Lewis Lewis (R-Calif.) abruptly resigned Thursday as head of the state's GOP House delegation, sources said, following a series of flare-ups over how Republicans should deal with the state's Democratic-controlled redistricting process.

Lewis announced his resignation to colleagues Wednesday following a number of heated closed-door meetings, during which several sources said Rep. Bill Thomas (R) had sought to take the lead on plotting their party's remap strategy. The delegation had informally assigned GOP Rep. Gary Miller to be its point man on the issue.

"There was a fairly strong disagreement between those folks over who ought to be saying what. There's been some tension over who should be our spokesman," said Lewis spokesman Jim Specht. "It caused him to realize that he was tired of being in the middle. He felt it was time for someone else to make the effort to pull everyone together."

Thomas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has some background in redistricting. In 1999, he co-sponsored an unsuccessful effort to place a voter initiative on the 2000 ballot that would have shifted control of redistricting from the state Legislature to the courts.

Nonetheless, sources said, Members chose Miller to handle the prickly issue within the delegation because he is viewed as a more agreeable Member.

Nearly two years ago, Thomas berated then-Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson for refusing to endorse or help finance his redistricting plan for California. The House Member's comments so infuriated Nicholson that the RNC chairman fired off a nasty letter to Thomas and forwarded a copy to his leadership superiors.

The most recent skirmish took place earlier this month at a state GOP meeting near Los Angeles. At the meeting, Thomas, armed with a letter from Lewis, demanded that officials give him the floor and overrule a Miller aide who sought to speak on redistricting. State GOP Chairman Sean Steele, a Thomas rival, reluctantly let Thomas speak, angering the Miller aide.

Several GOP sources said Lewis' frustration reached its breaking point Monday when a visibly angry Miller confronted Lewis on the House floor to discuss the incident and ask why he had authorized Thomas to speak for the delegation on redistricting.

House Republicans plan to meet Thursday to consider selecting a new chairman. Sources said Rep. David Dreier ranks as a possible successor.

Show Me the Map!

The Missouri House approved a new map that bodes well for House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D), but the state Senate was wrestling late last week with a plan that would remove Democratic precincts in St. Louis from Gephardt's district.

Democratic leaders of the state House sent a map to the state's GOP-controlled Senate last Wednesday that would expand Gephardt's base in heavily Democratic St. Louis, but would also remove Gephardt's residence from the district he represents. The boundaries implement an agreement between Gephardt and Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. (D) on drawing the lines in the St. Louis area.

The House map, which passed on a near party-line vote, came under heavy fire from GOP lawmakers. "This bill is pure, political, partisan trash," state Rep. Mark Wright (R) said during a floor debate Wednesday. "It is designed to do one thing and one thing only - to elect more Democrats to Congress."

The Senate Republicans' map would put the portion of St. Louis represented by Gephardt in Clay's district. Gephardt's district would be divvied up among the southern part of St. Louis County and two other counties that lean Republican.

Although the outcome of Missouri's heated redistricting debate was uncertain Friday, most insiders expect that Democrats will ultimately prevail in the state Senate, where they lost majority status in a special election earlier this year. Democrats were threatening a filibuster to ensure that the Republican plan did not come to a vote. Gov. Bob Holden is a Democrat.

Phelps vs. Johnson?

The latest Member vs. Member scenario has surfaced in Illinois, where redistricting agents apparently plan to eliminate Rep. David Phelps' (D) sprawling district. The new map, drafted by House Members but largely embraced by state legislators, would divvy up Phelps' base in southern Illinois and force him to face freshman Rep. Tim Johnson (R) in a new, GOP-leaning district.

The map is a compromise plan designed by senior members of the state's House delegation, which must shed one seat under reapportionment. Led by Speaker Dennis Hastert (R) and Rep. Bill Lipinski (D), the Members' plan protects most incumbents by increasing their respective parties' strength in their districts.

The plan comes as a relief to Chicago-area Members, who had expected remappers to slash the district of Rep. Rod Blagojevich (D), a potential gubernatorial candidate. But officials opted instead to preserve the city-based seat, noting that population levels rose there while they fell sharply in the state's southern regions.

For his part, Phelps has criticized the process and proposal as "unfair," noting that he had no input in the negotiations.

"But this is a tough business. I'm a big boy," Phelps told the Harrisburg (Ill.) Daily Register. "This is no place for crybabies."

Johnson, whose district runs due north of Phelps' seat, has declined to comment on the plan. But spokesman Matt Bisbee said his boss "doesn't look forward to running against an incumbent Democrat. That's really not an ideal situation for your sophomore term, but we're running regardless."

Aiming for Hoeffel.

After learning that he may be a top target of GOP remappers, Rep. Joseph Hoeffel (D-Pa.) last week launched a pre-emptive strike against a map that would eliminate his Montgomery County-based swing district.

Last year redistricting watchers expected Republicans, who control the process in Pennsylvania, to deal with the loss of two House seats by axing two Democratic districts, one in the state's western reaches and one in the Philadelphia area.

But a new map being pushed by state Republicans would actually eliminate three Democratic seats across the state, including Hoeffel's, while drawing a new GOP-leaning district into the Philadelphia region.

"It's even worse than we thought. They can't defeat me at the polls, so they're doing it in the back rooms," Hoeffel said during a news conference last week. "It's a travesty for Montgomery County to lose its Congressional seat. I don't think the Republicans can get away with this."

Aides to Hoeffel, who represents about 80 percent of Montgomery County's population, said the new GOP map would extend the Philadelphia-based districts of Democratic Reps. Chaka Fattah and Bob Borski into the county. The rest of Hoeffel's base would be split among GOP Reps. Curt Weldon, James Greenwood, Pat Toomey and the new GOP-leaning district.

"They would make it impossible for a Montgomery County resident to win any of the seats being proposed," Hoeffel said in an interview Friday. "It would have five different districts breaking into it."

If enacted, the plan would reverse a 212-year tradition of sending a Member to Congress from Montgomery County, Hoeffel said Friday. He noted that the Speaker in the first and third Congresses, Frederick Muhlenberg, was from Montgomery County.

Hoeffel said he's lobbying Republican legislators from his county, who comprise the largest local delegation of GOP lawmakers in Harrisburg, to oppose the plan. "I'm saying, publicly and privately, that it's not enough to vote against this plan," he said. "You have to try to block it. You're in the majority. You've got all the cards. You guys have to stop this."
Have Map Tools, Will Redistrict

By Maureen Hurley Schweers & Chuck Todd

May 11, 2001

 When analysts look for clues as to how this round of redistricting will differ most from years past, they typically look at how the Supreme Court and federal courts have reacted to legal challenges of old maps. However, this time around, the one thing that is completely changing the face of redistricting is sitting on the desk of just about every congressional or legislative aide and political reporter -- a computer.

 Redistricting is no longer a process that is only conducted in the smoky backrooms of state capitols.

In 2001, the Census Bureau delivered redistricting data to the states via a CD-ROM disk; the information can even be downloaded on the Internet. The amount of data that is instantly available for drawing new congressional lines -- population information such as age and racial data, party breakdowns and more -- is unprecedented. And, now, lawmakers are not the only ones who have access to it.

With the right software, anyone -- yes, anyone -- with a strong interest in redistricting can "start building plans 30 minutes after opening the box," as one redistricting software company touts on their Web site. Heck, even we're thinking about it.

With this unprecedented access to information, redistricting is no longer a process that is only conducted in the smoky backrooms of state capitols. Moving district lines and determining the resulting population data and demographic breakdowns on maps no longer involves long, seemingly impossible mathematical formulas and calculations: It's as easy as pointing, clicking, and dragging a mouse.

And it is available to anyone. Included on a redistricting software company's client list are the usual suspects -- a number of state legislatures and governors' offices, plus the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee. But the list also includes a number of potential redistricting watchdog groups, pollsters and other campaign consultants, organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Hispanic Leadership Institute, and groups such as "Texans Against Gerrymandering" and "Texans for Fair Redistricting."

So, instead of making life easier, computers are sure to complicate the process.

Everyone has the opportunity to draw congressional maps. Now, organizations can show up at public redistricting hearings armed with their proposed lines backed by population data, rather than offering vague suggestions on how the mapmakers should draw the lines. Members of Congress trying to defend their district can very easily shape an argument on how to shift this population group or that population group in order to preserve their district. Negotiations are likely to be much more difficult.

Just about every ambitious state legislator has his or her own redistricting map in their coat pocket.

And, of course, with the greater scrutiny, court battles are more likely. Suddenly, in this once-every-10 years process where there have traditionally been few experts, everyone becomes an expert.

We have seen the most new redistricting "experts" emerge in the two states hit hardest by the 2000 census numbers -- New York and Pennsylvania, which are both losing two House seats starting with the 2002 election. One national strategist quipped that, in Pennsylvania, you could "get a redistricting map from a McDonald's drive-thru" -- noting the large number of scenarios that have been played out in the media on which districts just might be eliminated. New York officials and analysts have been just as open in floating their own congressional scenarios, as speculation surrounds which members are the most in danger of losing their seats.

However, states that are losing seats are not the only ones that are suffering from too many mapmakers. A good example is Florida, which is gaining two seats in 2002. It seems like just about every ambitious state legislator has his or her own redistricting map in their coat pocket, outlining how the perfect seat for them to run in 2000 can be drawn. Don't expect the redistricting debate in the state legislature to be easy -- thanks to these folks looking for a promotion.

In a democracy, increased access to information and public scrutiny is usually equated with fairness in the process. However, considering that redistricting is a process that was designed to be partisan in most states, the increased scrutiny threatens to seriously disrupt and hold back redistricting as it exists now, instead of speeding up the process. Could the legacy of the Computer Age for redistricting be an increase in nonpartisan, independent commissions drawing the lines in more states?

Don't get us wrong, computers are make drawing maps a lot easier. One demonstration to which we were privy to showed us just how easy it is to shift a map, block by city block, in a matter of seconds.

Nonetheless, while computers make the process a lot easier, the information overload is sure to make the politics of redistricting much more difficult.

 Maureen Hurley Schweers is managing editor



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