National Redistricting News
: "Between the Lines." June 25,
Washington Post :
"Redistricting May Unseat 6 Democrats GOP Leaders in Michigan,
Pennsylvania Legislatures Use Drafting Advantage in Battle for
House." June 19, 2001
Roll Call: "Between the Lines."
June 18, 2001
Roll Call: "Between the Lines."
June 11, 2001
HotlineScoop.com: "Have Map Tools, Will
Redistrict." May 11, 2001
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
Democrats will remain in safe districts, but not many. They are
Reps. John Murtha, Frank Mascara, Chaka Fattah and Robert Brady.
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.
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.
Harrisburg acknowledged they can do little to stop the Legislature
from passing the map, but still plan to challenge the new districts
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.
take up Congressional redistricting in one of two special
sessions beginning Aug. 1, Gov. Roy Barnes (D) announced last week.
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.
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
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
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,
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."
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.
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).
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
The Washington Post
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
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
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
"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
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
"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 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
the House Needed: Smaller Districts and no 'Safe Seats'
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
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.
Between the Lines
By John Mercurio
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
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
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
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
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
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.
By John Mercurio
June 11, 2001
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
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
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
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
Old Line State Draws
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
"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
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.
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.
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
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
By John Mercurio
May 21, 2001
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
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
Republicans recently proposed a map that
would place Democratic Reps. Bill Luther and Betty McCollum in the
"These plans are all clearly partisan," said
Michael Brodkorb, the redistricting specialist for the Senate
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
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
"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.
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,"
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.
By John Mercurio
May 14, 2001
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
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
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
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
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
For his part, Phelps has criticized the
process and proposal as "unfair," noting that he had no input in the
"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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Schweers is managing editor