Parties Play Voting Rights Role
By Thomas B. Edsall
February 25, 2001
years, the Democratic and Republican parties change places on a key
issue of civil rights policy. Soon after the start of each decade --
when, as now, it comes time to begin reapportioning congressional
districts -- the GOP abruptly becomes the advocate of tough
enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects the
interests of black voters during the redistricting process. At the
same time many Democrats abandon their commitment to the broad
interpretation of the law, which seeks to increase black
representation by concentrating minority voters. Democrats call
instead for a looser and less binding approach to the application of
the Voting Rights Act. Designed to prohibit attempts to restrict
black representation, the act has produced a surge in black
representation in southern House delegations.
redistricting neither Democrats nor Republicans are driven by
ideology, but by a desire to maximize their representation in
Congress. Republicans calculate that for every overwhelmingly black
Democratic district created, there is a good chance of creating two
or more districts that are overwhelmingly white and Republican.
Democrats, conversely, know that in the South their party does not
win majorities among whites. Their best strategy is to create as
many districts as possible with 25 percent to 40 percent black
voters. These largely loyal Democratic voters coupled with the third
or so of the white electorate that traditionally votes the same way
can send a Democrat to Congress. The issue of race is crucial as
state legislatures prepare to redraw congressional, state house and
state Senate lines to meet one-person, one-vote standards.
the finding of the 2000 census, 10 states will lose at least one
seat in Congress by 2002, including two each for Pennsylvania and
New York, and eight states will gain seats, including two each for
Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arizona. In northern states losing
seats, white Democrats are most in danger. Much of the population
decline is concentrated in urban areas with large black populations.
If existing black seats are preserved in these areas, the most
threatened incumbents become those in nearby white areas, such as
districts in the suburban ring counties of Detroit and Cleveland.
Many of these legislators are Democrats. In the South, much of the
population growth has been in white, Republican-leaning suburbs. In
that region, Democrats want to "pack" as many solid GOP voters
together in as few districts as possible, while increasing the
number of racially mixed districts in which Democratic candidates
would have a chance.
The GOP in
the South has a directly contradictory goal: to "pack" as many
African American voters as possible in as few districts as possible
to increase the chances of winning the remaining majority-white
districts. The decennial metamorphosis of the two political parties
on enforcement of the Voting Rights Act lasts roughly two years, or
about the time it takes to redraw congressional districts across the
nation. Republicans, including Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (Va.),
chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, are
gearing up to counter the efforts of Democrats to spread out
minority voters. "We have attorneys ready," Davis said at a recent
luncheon meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Post.
"You have the issue of retrogression. If you take a district that is
60 percent minority now, and a Democratic legislature makes it 55
percent to spread those voters out to help other Democrats, that is
retrogression," and it violates the Voting Rights Act, Davis
reply that Republican civil rights sympathies are cynical and mask
the GOP goal of "packing" the maximum number possible of black
voters into districts that then elect black Democratic
representatives while diminishing overall black "influence" by
segregating African Americans into just a few districts. "Our goal
is to not allow Republicans to use redistricting to put us in a
permanent minority status," declared Gerald Hebert, general counsel
to IMPAC 2000, the Democratic Party's major redistricting
organization. "We fully expect the Republicans to try to keep the
districts packed, and attempt to pack them with high levels of
minorities." The overall shift in congressional representation from
north to south should benefit the GOP, Davis said, because most of
the states losing seats voted for Al Gore, while most of those
gaining seats voted for President Bush. Neither party has an overall
political advantage in the current redistricting efforts.
Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, for example, the GOP
controls both legislative branches and the governorship. Democrats
control all three in North Carolina, Georgia and California.
Strategists in both parties are preparing to take every adverse
political redistricting outcome to court. If many or all
redistricting cases end up in the courts, the Supreme Court could
set legal standards crucial to determining which party controls the
House. The most volatile, and unsettled, legal issue in
redistricting is race and judicial interpretation of the Voting
Rights Act. Since the early 1990s, the Supreme Court has rejected
plans drawn with race as the "predominant" factor that supersedes
other factors such as county boundaries, incumbency protection and
compactness. The court has not ruled out the use of race as one of
many factors to be considered.
1992, the Supreme Court has ordered the redrawing of oddly drawn
districts with majority-black constituencies in North Carolina,
Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. Those Supreme Court rulings proved
highly beneficial to Democratic strategists on two counts: First,
the court effectively rejected "packing," the Republican-supported
approach of creating "super-majority" black districts with African
American percentages of 65 percent or more. Second, after many
majority-black districts were redrawn, reducing the proportion of
black voters in each district to less than 50 percent, all the
African American incumbents who sought reelection from those
districts won back their seats. Strategists say that shows that
black candidates in the South can win a substantial percentage of
white votes. The court now has before it a new challenge to North
Carolina's 12th District, a challenge that the justices may use to
give further direction to the post-2000 redistricting. As originally
drawn in 1991, the district curved along Interstate 85 for 160 miles
from Gastonia outside Charlotte to Durham, producing a 57 percent
black electorate. Rep. Melvin Watt (D) won the House seat in 1992.
After a series of challenges by white voters protesting racial
gerrymandering, the district was redrawn in 1998 to become far more
compact, with the proportion of African Americans reduced to 36
percent. Watt retained the seat in the 1998 election, beating a
white Republican by 56 percent to 42 percent. Watt won again in
2000, with 65 percent of the vote.
tough interpretation of Section V of the Voting Rights Act by the
Bush administration Justice Department in 1991-92, southern state
legislatures significantly increased the number of majority-black
districts. As a result, the number of blacks elected to the House
from the South shot from five to 17. Increased black representation
from black districts also coincided with Republican gains in much of
the rest of the South. The simultaneous increase in representation
by both blacks and Republicans has prompted a surge of scholarly
interest in the redistricting process. Three researchers -- Bernard
Grofman of the University of California at Irvine, Lisa Handley of
Frontier International Electoral Consulting and David Lublin of
American University -- recently challenged the arguments of earlier
civil rights advocates, who argued that black candidates needed
majority-black districts to win. After studying results in southern
congressional and legislative districts, the authors argue that
black candidates needed "less than 50 percent in every instance, and
in most cases . . . in the range of 33-39 percent black [voters to
win]." If this view is sustained by the courts, the politics of
redistricting in 2001-02 will be very different from those of a
Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Census Shifts Can't Fully Predict Redistricting
By Charles W. Holmes
January 14, 2001
political landscape across America will shift this year as state
legislatures, furnished with new population data from the 2000
census, redraw the boundaries of congressional and legislative
districts. But how it will look and who will gain in the 2002
midterm elections is anybody's guess, despite early GOP predictions
that the population surge in the Sun Belt will be a boon for
Republicans. State-by-state figures released late last month by the
Census Bureau showing a national head count of 281.4 million
Americans appear to favor Republicans. As a result of the census,
eight states in the South and West, most of them won by
President-elect George W. Bush in last year's close election, picked
up 12 congressional seats. Those seats were taken from 10 states in
the Northeast and Midwest and reflect the population shift toward
the Sun Belt. Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, chairman of the National
Republican Congressional Committee, is ''cautiously optimistic''
that the GOP could see significant ''double-digit gains'' in the
House in the 2002 midterm elections.
now hold only a 10 seat majority in the House, 221-211. But the
census numbers tell only part of the story and make political
forecasting difficult, independent analysts say. The outcome of
mapmaking battles to be waged in coming months will be determined by
a variety of factors, including party control in state legislatures,
federal oversight to protect minority rights and inevitable court
battles over how the lines are drawn. And by Election Day next year,
the changing face of the electorate in fast- growing states ---
especially among Latinos and independent voters --- makes it
impossible to tell which party will gain seats in Congress. ''The
simple fact that certain states grow is not enough to tell us who
gets the advantage,'' said Rob Richie, executive director of the
nonpartisan Center for Voting and Democracy near Washington. Bush,
who defeated Al Gore by four electoral votes, 271-267, would have
won by 18 votes under the shift of congressional seats caused by the
In the new
apportioning of 435 House seats, Georgia, Florida, Texas and Arizona
each will gain two seats. California, Colorado, Nevada and North
Carolina will gain one new seat apiece. New York and Pennsylvania
each will lose two congressional seats. Connecticut, Illinois,
Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin will
lose one seat apiece. Redistricting across the 50 states won't begin
until March, when the Census Bureau is scheduled to release detailed
population data down to the block level. Control in state
legislatures, like politics throughout the country as reflected in
the presidential election, is nearly even. Nationally, Republicans
control legislatures in 18 states, while Democrats dominate in 16
states. Party control is split between the upper and lower chambers
in 15 states. ''Even if one party has entire control of the process,
it is not a mandate to gerrymander your opponent into oblivion,''
said Tim Storey, a redistricting specialist with the National
Conference of State Legislatures.
state of the eight that gained congressional seats --- Florida ---
is controlled completely by a House and Senate dominated by
Republicans. Democrats control the legislatures in California,
Georgia and North Carolina. The legislatures in Arizona, Colorado,
Texas and Nevada are shared, with Republicans controlling one
chamber and Democrats the other. In Pennsylvania, which lost two
seats, a solid GOP majority in the Legislature will draw the new
map, naturally expected to favor Republicans. Historically, midterm
elections tend to repudiate the new White House incumbent, giving
gains to the party out of power --- in the case of 2002, the
Democrats. Rep. Martin Frost of Texas, chairman of the House
Democratic Caucus, asserts that neither party can count on major
gains from redistricting.
political parity now, and we'll be at political parity after
redistricting," Frost said. "Anyone who claims redistricting will be
a slam- dunk for either party is just blowing smoke. The 2002
elections will be the most wide open and competitive we've seen in
some time." The Democrats may have the edge in some states, he said,
because of the rapid population changes occurring in the South and
West, particularly the growing number of Latinos. In all but
Florida, Latino voters tend to favor Democrats. For example, the
Republican Party has steadily seen its power in California eroded by
the state's Latino immigrants and the growth of independent voters.
President Clinton carried the state in 1992 and 1996, and Gore won
it last year. Analysts think Democrats could pick up another
congressional seat or two in the 2002 elections.
must draw districts to be geographically contiguous and nearly equal
in population --- to reflect the one-person, one-vote principle.
Also, the federal Voting Rights Act gives the Justice Department the
ability to review and approve redistricting plans in states with a
history of racially biased elections. The process this year is
expected to generate more lawsuits than usual because the Census
Bureau may release two sets of numbers --- one statistically altered
to compensate for the historic undercount, especially of minorities
and children, and another unadjusted head count. The Census Bureau
plans to announce next month whether it will release both sets of
data. If it does, state legislatures will be able to choose which
set to use.
WEB: For more information about U.S. Census Bureau redistricting:
Facing Redistricting, Budgeting
January 9, 2001
On top of their normal work load,
lawmakers in nearly every state must redraw their Congressional and
legislative districts this spring, making the upcoming statehouse
sessions the busiest in recent memory. In 2001, legislatures will
convene in every state, with all but six starting work this month.
In addition to redrawing their political maps, most will also have
to make spending decisions for the upcoming 2002 fiscal year. As
they do every year, tax and budget issues will dominate agendas
across the country. "We've had six years of net state tax cuts,"
said Gene Rose of the National Conference of State Legislatures
(NCSL). "It'll be interesting to see if states can go a seventh
year, this year."
to a survey released Friday (Jan. 5) by NCSL, boosting funding for
education remains a high priority among lawmakers in many states, as
does meeting the growing demands of state Medicaid budgets.
Lawmakers will likely introduce more bills on education and health
care this year than on any other topic, Rose said. The results of
the 2000 census released Dec. 28 mean the Congressional delegations
of 18 states will either shrink or expand in time for the 2002
elections. Ten states are slated to lose at least one seat in the
U.S House of Representatives and eight states will pick up at least
one seat. New York and Pennsylvania -- the biggest losers -- will
have to give up two of their seats. Delegations from Illinois,
Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Oklahoma and
Mississippi will shrink by one each. Eight states will pick up
seats. Texas, Georgia, Florida and Arizona will each gain two new
Congressmen. The delegations for North Carolina, Nevada, Colorado
and California will grow by one. In all of those states but Arizona,
state lawmakers are charged with carving out the new districts or
wiping the old ones off the map. In another 25 states, lines will
still have to be redrawn -- albeit with less dramatic results -- to
keep pace with population growth since the last census in 1990. The
remaining seven states have only one representative in the U.S.
the states, however, have left Congressional redistricting in the
hands of the legislature. Six states -- Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho,
Montana, New Jersey and Washington -- have moved the responsibility
to state commissions or appointed commissions. In another six
states, panels will also draw new boundaries for state legislative
seats: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In the other 38 states, lawmakers will decide their own fates, as
well as those of members of Congress. Because the dominant party is
expected to create a map tilted in its favor, often by lumping its
constituents together as closely as it can, the legislative sessions
of 2001 are likely to be highly politically charged. The results of
redistricting can effect party control for the next decade. Whether
decided by commission or lawmakers, "redistricting is inherently
political," said Tim Storey of NCSL.
March will lawmakers learn from the Census Bureau exactly where
within their state people have moved. At the beginning of the
session, they can start making plans, but the mad dash really gets
underway when the concrete data arrive. And that's when most
lawmakers also get down to` and-bolts discussions over the state
budget. As a result of the rapid economic slowdown, many states are
reporting less interest in adding to the tax cuts of recent years,
says NCSL's tax expert Arturo Perez. Every year, Perez and his
colleagues survey the economic outlook in the 50 states as
legislative sessions begin. "For five or six years now, this report
has been relatively easy to write," Perez said. "State have reported
that revenues are at or above expectations. It was the same old song
for so long. Now it's changing." In the most recent report, less
than half the states -- 21 -- said tax cuts would be on the
legislative agenda this year.
three -- Washington, Kansas and Alaska -- reported that they might
consider tax hikes for the 2002 fiscal year. Washington and Kansas
lawmakers are contemplating increases to provide additional
services, not to make up for revenue shortfalls, Perez said. Alaska
legislators plan to continue an ongoing debate over ways to
diversify the state's revenue stream. Alaska relies on oil revenues
for 75 percent of its general fund and in recent years has
considered creating an income tax or sales tax to protect government
programs in lean drilling years. In general, Perez said, states are
adjusting to slower rates of revenue growth, but none are reporting
circumstances that would require large tax increases or sharp
spending cuts. State lawmakers throughout the country must also
contend this year with local fallout from the presidential election.
Of particular interest are measures to update voting machines to
assure more accurate counts, says NCSL's Tim Storey.
will also be looking at measures to increase voter turnout and
reduce fraud -- two goals that often conflict. The sleeper issue of
2001 may be protecting the privacy of genetic information. "It's
definitely an issue that state legislators are going to have come up
to speed on very quickly," Rose said. In 2000, two states,
Massachusetts and Maine, passed measures to ban discrimination based
on genetic information. Although Michigan's law limited its
protections largely to health care providers, Massachusetts law went
further and prohibited discrimination in housing and other areas.
The NCSL says lawmakers in seven other states are knowledgeable
about the issue and prepared for debates this year: Maryland,
Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington.
deter drunken driving with lower limits on blood-alcohol levels will
likely resurface in Iowa, Missouri and other states this year. After
voters in Colorado and Arizona rejected ballot initiatives to
establish growth limits around cities, lawmakers in those states are
likely to try to address the issue of urban sprawl. Helping
low-income seniors pay for prescription drugs will also return to
the policy agenda in states this year. Twenty-three states have
already adopted plans, including four in 2000: Indiana, Kansas,
Florida and South Carolina. Lawmakers will also have to contend in
2001 with the divisive issue of the death penalty and whether to
allow inmates access to DNA testing in order to appeal their
convictions. And, legislators in many states will be closely
watching events in California as lawmakers there grapple with the
results of a utility deregulation bill passed several years ago.
Power shortages in California have forced policymakers everywhere to
reconsider the wisdom of deregulation.
Associated Press Online
Shifts Alter US Politics
January 5, 2001
sense a big opportunity in the 2002 congressional elections given
new Census figures that caused a dozen congressional seats to slide
from traditionally Democratic territory to conservative regions in
the South and West. Despite the shifts, Democrats say they should be
able to hold their own after the districts are redrawn. The truth is
that nobody really knows which side will gain ground in the process
of redrawing congressional districts a task both complicated and
''There's no way to know unless you've got a
direct link to the psychic hot line,'' quipped Tim Storey, a
redistricting analyst with the National Conference of State
A variety of factors make it nearly impossible
to clearly predict results in the 2002 congressional elections.
Those factors include which party controls a state's government and
controls how the state legislatures draw the lines, what happens in
the courts (where many of the remap battles end up) and how
effectively the parties campaign at the local level. Republicans
currently control just 10 more seats than Democrats in the House,
221-211, making any shift between parties in the next House election
even more significant.
The influence of the population shift
on future presidential politics is almost as big a mystery.
President-elect Bush would have won by 18 electoral votes in the new
alignment, 278-260, rather than by four, 271-267. But that says
little about what could happen in four years. The shift of
population from the Northeast and Midwest found in the 2000 Census
continues a geographical trend. ''In any reapportionment, if you
grab the country by Maine and shake vigorously, seats will drop to
the south and west,'' said Tom Hoffler, a redistricting expert for
the Republican National Committee. The population figures released
late last month give more House seats to eight states including two
apiece in Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arizona and takes some away in
10 two apiece in New York and Pennsylvania. Under the Constitution,
each state receives at least one seat, and the remaining seats are
divided up according to the changing population after each census.
The battle to redraw district lines in the states will begin
in March when the Census Bureau releases more detailed results of
the count. Rep. Thomas Davis, the Virginia Republican who chairs the
National Republican Congressional Committee, has said the shift
should result in a minimum gain of 10 seats for his party.
''We won't know the new playing field for a while yet, but
I'm cautiously optimistic that redistricting is going to turn into
gains for House Republicans,'' Davis said Thursday. Rep. Martin
Frost, a Texas Democrat who is chair of the House Democratic Caucus,
counters that Democrats could break even, but that neither side will
have a big advantage after redistricting is completed. The increase
in population in states gaining seats doesn't necessarily help
Republicans, he said.
''Six of those eight states have had a
very significant increase in Hispanic population,'' Frost said,
noting that Hispanics in most states tend to support Democrats. The
migration of new residents to the South and West could dilute
Republican strength and make those fast-growing states more
independent. And Democrats expect to do well in 2002 since the
opposition party usually gains ground in non-presidential election
The states that gained seats are Arizona, Georgia,
Florida and Texas, which get two more seats each, while California,
Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina each gain one. New York and
Pennsylvania lose two seats each, while Connecticut, Illinois,
Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin lose
one apiece. Three Southern states that gained seats, Florida,
Georgia and North Carolina, have shown increased Democratic strength
in recent elections. And Democrats control state government in
Georgia and North Carolina, while Republicans control Florida. Among
the losing states, Pennsylvania may be the most painful for
Democrats when Republicans get to redraw the map with fewer seats.
New York also is losing two seats, but the parties share control of
state government, so the losses likely will be split.
a mistake for either side to claim they have a huge advantage in the
reapportionment process,'' Democratic Party spokeswoman Jenny Backus
said. ''There's good news for Democrats and good news for
Republicans.'' And the act of drawing districts that look good on
paper won't be enough. ''After you draw the lines,'' said Republican
Hoffler, ''you still have to go out and win those states.''
Loss of Seats Likely to Create Battles Between Sitting
By John Mercurio
January 4, 2001
Chip Pickering (R-Miss.) ran unopposed in 1998 and stomped all over
his Democratic challenger last year, sailing to a third term with 73
percent of the vote. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has also dominated
his foes in recent races, taking 65 percent in November. Both
Members ended 2000 with well-stocked war chests. But the
cakewalks Brown and Pickering have enjoyed could soon be history.
Like more than a dozen other Members from states that will lose
House seats in the post-census reapportionment, Brown and Pickering
are bracing for 2002 races in changed districts and the possibility
that they could face matchups with fellow Members of Congress.
"This will be much different, a much
more hard-fought race," conceded Pickering, who said he's preparing
for a potential face-off with Rep. Ronnie Shows (D) in a new
district drawn by the Democrat-controlled state legislature and Gov.
Ronnie Musgrove (D). "Any time you face an incumbent, it's a whole
different dynamic. Any other member of this delegation is very
capable politically, so we would need to work hard to maintain the
support I've had previously."
The Census Bureau announced
Dec. 28 that two states, New York and Pennsylvania, will each lose
two House seats in 2002. Eight other states - Connecticut, Illinois,
Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin - will
each lose one seat. Legislative leaders in those states cautioned
this week that speculation about 2002 is premature. The remapping
process won't even begin until the bureau releases further details
from the decennial count this spring, which could trigger a round of
special sessions this summer in statehouses across the country.
"There's always conventional wisdom
here and there, but it is usually wrong, " said Mississippi state
Rep. Tommy Reynolds (D), chairman of the Apportionment and Elections
Committee, which handles redistricting in the state House. "We still
need a lot of information before we can do the actual on-the-ground
However, House Members and
redistricting agents privately acknowledge that likely scenarios are
already being discussed in several states, particularly where one
party holds all the cards in the process. That spells trouble for Members such as Pickering
and Brown, with Brown's slow-growing district near Cleveland being
heavily targeted by the GOP-controlled legislature and Gov. Bob Taft
(R). Brown, who could be thrown into a race against nearby
Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D) or Tom Sawyer (D), said Wednesday that
he'll eye career options outside the House, including running for
governor or state auditor, if he's forced to run in an untenable
"I want to be in Congress, I plan to
be in Congress in 2003, and I'm preparing for it every way I can, by
doing my job here and
raising money," said Brown, a former Ohio secretary of state who had
$1.1 million in reserve on Nov. 27. "But if they
divide my district up into six or seven pieces and make it almost
unwinnable, I'll look at another race."
Ohio Republicans said they could also
create headaches for Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D), whose Toledo-based
9th district grew more
slowly than the rest of the Buckeye State in the 1990s. The 9th
borders Michigan to the
north and is otherwise surrounded by the 5th, a GOP-leaning
district held by Rep. Paul Gillmor (R).
"Kaptur can only go one place, south,
which would take her into Gillmor's district, where she would pick
up solidly Republican precincts," particularly in Ohio's
western reaches, said state GOP Chairman Bob Bennett.
Brown, Minority Whip David Bonior (D), who is expected to be a top
target of Michigan's GOP-controlled legislature and Gov. John Engler
(R), may forgo a tough race by running for governor instead. Bonior, a scourge of House
GOP leaders, has faced increasingly difficult re- election bids
since his 10th district
grew more Republican during the 1990s, especially in St.
Clair County. He raised $2.3 million in his successful bid for a 13th term, but he
had just $151,000 on hand as of Nov. 27.
Michigan Republicans, citing
population losses in Detroit, could also try to force the state's
Members, Reps. John Conyers (D) and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D),
into one district. But
any move to eliminate a majority-minority district would face
strong court challenges.
Gubernatorial bids in 2002 by other
House Members would have far-reaching impacts
elsewhere. Following President-elect George W. Bush's
nomination of Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) to head the Department of Health and
Human Services, for example, Reps. Tom Barrett (D) and Ron Kind (D)
have started talking
seriously about gubernatorial bids two years from now.
A retirement by
either House Democrat would be good news for Rep. Tammy Baldwin
(D-Wis.), a sophomore who narrowly won re-election
last year and may be targeted by her state's GOP-controlled
legislature. If Barrett was to depart from his Milwaukee-based
district, where population growth was particularly sluggish in the 1990s, it could help
save Baldwin, since remappers would probably choose to eliminate his
salvaging her Madison-based seat for Democrats.
In Illinois, where Democrats control
the state House and Republicans hold the state Senate and the governor's office, much of
what happens in redistricting may be determined by retirements. Rep.
Rod Blagojevich (D)
may vacate his solidly Democratic district to challengeGov. George
Ryan (R) in two years, and 14-term Rep. Henry Hyde (R),
76, may retire - especially if Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
declines to extend his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee.
The outcome is less clear in states
where both parties will have seats at the redistricting table.
Still, officials are
making early predictions based on census findings in the regions of
states that either lost population or growth was especially
In Connecticut, for example, where
Democrats hold the legislature but the governor, John Rowland, is
a Republican, state
legislators said Reps. Nancy Johnson (R), James Maloney (D) and Rob
Simmons (R), a freshman, are more vulnerable than the state's three
Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D) and John Larson
(D) represent New Haven and Hartford, respectively, and remappers
are unlikely to divide
those cities into separate districts, officials said. Democrats, who
control the state
Senate, are reluctant to target Rep. Christopher Shays
because the moderate Republican has shown he can withstand the
influx of large numbers of Democratic voters into his
district. Officials said Simmons could end up as the most
vulnerable Member in Connecticut.
Democrats who control
the legislature in Oklahoma, where Republicans hold five of the
state's six House seats, say they would likely target
Rep. Wes Watkins (R), also a potential retiree. Legislators could
easily boost Democratic
strength in Watkins' district, a traditional Democratic stronghold,
by moving Payne and Pawnee counties - where voters gave
Bush some of his largest margins in the state - into Rep. Ernest
Istook's (R) adjacent
In Indiana, a scenario has surfaced in
which Democrats, who control the state House and the governor's
office, would draw GOP
Reps. Brian Kerns, a freshman, and John Hostettler into one
district. Democrats said state House Speaker John
Gregg, a Democrat who's eyeing a challenge to Hostettler, wants to
move Vigo County, a
Democratic stronghold in the southwestern corner of Kerns' 7th
district, into the 8th district to help maximize his party's
Indiana Republicans, who control the
state Senate, could make life difficult for some House
Rep. Peter Visclosky, whose Gary-based district in the state's
northwest corner could see the addition of GOP-friendly
counties to the south, such as Newton and Jasper.
Perhaps the most blatant maneuvering
is occurring in New York and Pennsylvania. Rep. Amo Houghton (R), for
example, didn't wait for the bureau to strike the first blow at his
western New York constituents before starting
to fight to preserve his district. Last year, months before the
bureau announced the Empire State would lose two seats, Houghton
lobbied Gov. George
Pataki (R) and helped finance GOP candidates for the state Senate,
which he hopes will decline to merge his rural district
with seats in Rochester or Buffalo.
"One sure way to kill the
attractiveness of a rural area is to make it the backwater of a big
metropolitan city. Nice
people, fine people, but they don't think the way we do," Houghton
said. "I realize that two (House Members) are going to have to
take a bath, but I just don't want to be one of them. I'm clean
New York legislators are drafting
plans that would eliminate one Republican House seat, probably
upstate, and one
Democratic seat, most likely a New York City-based district.
Houghton is clearly a top candidate, while Democrats said Rep. Joseph
Crowley's (D) district, based in Queens, could also be
Republicans, who will control the redistricting
process in Pennsylvania, have openly discussed plans to force two House Democrats, one
from the east and one from the west, into either GOP-leaning
districts or races
against fellow House Democrats.
The Pittsburgh-based district held by
Rep. Mike Doyle (D), for example, could be combined with the neighboring 14th, held by
Rep. William Coyne (D), and Rep. Joseph Hoeffel (D) could end up in
a face-off against one
of the three Philadelphia-area Members, all Democrats.
Up for the count
The big political story of 2000, of
course, took place in Florida. But a bigger story wasn't strictly political, and it
took place here in Washington. That is the U.S. Census. First, there is the size of
the country: 281 million, and counting. Not exactly the People's
Republic of China, of course, but impressive
nonetheless. Alabama and South Carolina, by themselves, now have
larger populations than
the whole nation boasted in the first census, in 1790.
Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, the population stood at
123 million. In the 20th century, the population better than
represents, by the way, a gradual slowing down. In the 19th century,
the United States not only extended itself from the Ohio Valley to
the Pacific coast, but its population grew from 5.3 million (1800)
to 76.2 million
(1900). And that was in the middle of the last great wave of
immigration to these shores. By 1920, we were up to 106
But it also represents the
continuation of a trend. Since the founding of the republic 212
years ago, Americans
have been moving southward and westward, and they are still
doing so. In 1790, the statistical center of the population was 23 miles west
of Baltimore; two centuries later, it is in central Missouri.
This relentless migration is now routinely
defined as the growth of the Sun Belt, as though Americans suddenly
climates and are abandoning their ancestral homes in New England.
Not at all. Americans have
been moving south and west, for whatever reasons,
since the opening of the Cumberland Gap in the 1760s.
One might argue, in fact, that the
great wave of Eastern European immigration (1880-1920) retarded
statistically speaking. The immigrants landed in the East, and
tended to concentrate in cities where industrial jobs were
plentiful. Now, immigrants appear at different points of entry, and
their numbers are reflected in state
populations. California, Texas and Florida (with 68 million people
combined) are three of the four most populous states in
the nation; New York (18 million) is third. And descendants of those
immigrants are now as likely to live in Atlanta or Los Angeles as
Pittsburgh or Brooklyn.
So much for numbers; what about
politics? Shifts in population mean that certain states will gain,
or lose, members in
the House of Representatives in order to maintain its 435-seat
limit. As a result, Arizona, Georgia, Florida and Texas will be
awarded two more seats in Congress, and California, Colorado, Nevada
and North Carolina will
gain one. Conversely, New York and Pennsylvania will be stripped of
two congressional seats,
while Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi,
Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin will lose one each.
This is, on the whole, good news for
Republicans. Seven of the eight states gaining representation in
George W. Bush in the presidential election, and six of the 10
losing states went for Al Gore.
Congressional districts are, for the
most part, designed by state legislatures, and while Democrats made
gains in some
Republican strongholds in the last elections, Republicans are better
positioned on the whole. Indeed, as Virginia Rep. Thomas
Davis, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee,
"Republicans will control more seats
at the bargaining table than at any time since 1920."
Which is not to say
Republicans have nothing to worry about. Reapportionment will
provide some insulation for congressional Republicans,
but historically, the party in the White House loses seats in
off-year elections. And political trends are mixed,
at best. While President-elect Bush defeated an incumbent vice
president in peaceful, prosperous times _ no small achievement _ he
also found the unions united against him, along with blacks and a majority of
Hispanic voters. Silicon Valley is now solidly Democratic, and
Democrats won Senate seats in Georgia and
Well, Georgia and Florida have been
sending mixed delegations to Washington for years, and when the
Internet bubble bursts,
the political complexion of Silicon Valley will betransformed. Which
brings us to Hispanics, America's largest immigrant
group, and a huge voting bloc. The presumption is that Hispanics _
recent arrivals, poorer
than most Americans _ will remain eternally wedded to the Democratic
Party, but is that necessarily so?
There are large differences between
Salvadoran refugees in California and Cuban exiles in Florida, and
officials are evenly divided between the parties.
there is every indication that Hispanics are following the pattern
of immigration gradual, but inexorable, assimilation
which, in time, could make Hispanics as politically predictable as
citizens of, say, Scottish descent. It's a
process the Census has been tracking since 1790.
ABOUT THE WRITER Philip
Terzian is the associate editor of the Providence Journal. Write to
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available from KRT Direct. (c) 2001, The Providence
Visit projo.com, the online service of
The Providence Journal at
The Washington Post
December 31, 2000
The Census Bureau has issued the first
results from the year 2000 headcount. The state-by-state figures
confirm a lot of what you already knew. The population continues to
grow pretty steadily -- up by about an eighth since 1990. Most of
the growth is where it's warm, in the South and West; there will be
ever greater pressure on the water supplies and other resources in
those regions. And the pattern would seem to favor Republicans; many
of the states that gained are states that have leaned Republican in
The gaining states will pick up seats
in the House. Again the pattern is familiar. Four Sunbelt states
will pick up two seats each. They are Texas, which has moved past
New York to become the second-largest state, Florida, Georgia and
Arizona. California picks up one seat and will have 53 -- an eighth
of the entire House. The losing states are mainly in the North and
East. New York and Pennsylvania will each lose two seats;
Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin are
among those that will lose one.
The reapportionment of seats among the
states will be followed by redistricting within them. As the basis
for that, the bureau hopes to have a second, better set of numbers
available. The second set will be adjusted for the undercount, of
poor people and minority groups especially, that continues to plague
the census. The bureau this year engaged in elaborate sampling of
selected census tracts in order to measure the undercount. If all
goes well, it intends this spring to extrapolate from the samples
and to publish for every census tract -- and thus every locality and
state -- two population figures, one raw, based on the traditional
enumeration, and one adjusted. The sampling process has itself,
unfortunately, become a political issue. Most statisticians favor it
as likely to produce a more accurate result. Most Democrats likewise
favor it; they think it is their constituents who in the past have
been disproportionately missed. But Republicans are opposed; among
much else, they fear it could cost them seats in redistricting,
although that is by no means clear.
The question is whether the Bush
administration will acquiesce in publication of the adjusted numbers
or seek to block them. The president-elect hasn't said, but in the
past he has expressed reservations about the sampling process. His
commerce secretary-designate, who will have charge of the Census
Bureau, hasn't said either. Mr. Bush ought not hesitate on this one.
If the Census Bureau professionals decide next year that the
adjusted figures are more accurate, he should support them. To do
otherwise would be indefensible. The purpose is not to draw
congressional districts in a particular way but to produce as
accurate a population count as possible -- in this case, to include
people who have in the past been missed, vulnerable ones especially.
Mr. Bush made such inclusiveness a campaign theme. The census
presents him with an early test.
Orange County Register
'Equal Proportions' Uses Census to Give States House Seats -- and
Take Them Away
By Ronald Campbell
December 30, 2000
A 60-year-old mathematical formula
briefly replaced the federal budget as the most politically
important set of numbers this week. That formula is the "equal
proportions" method. With the release of preliminary U.S. Census
results Thursday, equal proportions shifted 12 seats in the House of
Representatives. The biggest losers were New York and Pennsylvania,
which lost two seats each. Among the winners were California, which
gained one seat, and Texas and Florida, which each gained two seats.
The formula ensures that the House reflects the shift in the
nation's population to the South and West from the Northeast and
Midwest. As recently as the 1980s, the Northeast and Midwest had one
fewer House seat than the South and West.
After the House is reapportioned in
2002, the South and West will have 51 more seats than the Northeast
and Midwest. But the formula has its quirks: The number of
constituents per representative varies widely from state to state.
Montana's lone House member represents 905,000 people. Rhode
Island's two House members represent 495,000 people each. Smaller
states get additional seats more easily than larger states. Florida
got its second new seat before California got its one new seat,
although California added 1 million more people than Florida did. A
shift of a few thousand people can determine which states gain or
lose a seat. Because the census misses millions of people, some
seats may have been awarded to or taken from the wrong states. The
formula works like this: Each state is guaranteed one House seat.
After that, states get a series of "priority values" for additional
seats, based on population and a multiplier. The multiplier declines
with each seat a state gets, reducing its priority value for the
next seat. The multiplier is 0.707 for any state's second seat --
one divided by the square root of two (the number of seats) times
two (the number of seats again) minus one. The multiplier declines
to 0.105 for the 10th seat, 0.051 for the 20th seat, 0.0253 for the
40th seat, 0.0202 for the 50th seat.
So California had an unbeatable 24
million priority value for its second seat -- 33.9 million residents
times 0.707. By the time it was vying for its 50th seat, however,
California's priority value had sunk to 685,000. The result: Nevada,
with 2 million residents, got its third seat before California got
its 43rd. Colorado, population 4.3 million, got its seventh seat
before California got its 51st. Arizona, population 5.1 million, got
its eighth seat before California got its 50th. Until 1910, Congress
avoided stripping seats from slow-growing states by increasing the
size of the House after every census. That year, Congress froze the
House at 435 members. Since then, every census but one has shifted
seats among states. Congress stalemated after the 1920 census,
refusing to shift seats from farm states to fast-growing urban and
Western states. Congress adopted the equal-proportions method after
the 1940 census. It survived two Supreme Court challenges after the
Congress experimented with four
simpler apportionment methods before adopting equal proportions:
Thomas Jefferson devised the first formula -- adopting a nationwide
ratio of people per House member and dividing each state's
population by that ratio. Fractions didn't count. If a state's
population was 2.99 times the national ratio, it got two House
members. The second method, championed by Daniel Webster, rounded
fractions. If a state's ratio was 2.51, it got three House seats.
The Vinton or Hamilton method, used from 1850 to 1900, combined the
earlier approaches. Each state got a number of members based on a
national ratio. Additional seats were assigned one at a time to the
states with the largest fractions after the initial division. When
Congress decided to freeze the number of House members in 1910, it
adopted a variation of Webster's method, using a ratio that produced
a predetermined number of representatives. The system was used in
1910 and 1930.
Redistricting: Let's Play Musical Chairs
December 29, 2000
The U.S. Census Bureau on Dec. 28
released the first set of state-by-state population numbers
following the 2000 census. "The first numbers from 2000 national
count provided a few surprises" -- North Carolina picked up a House
seat, while Indiana and Michigan "unexpectedly lost
representatives." And Florida and Georgia "fared better than some
experts had predicted." However, "the figures otherwise confirmed a
decade-long trend of a population shift from the North and Midwest
to the South and West." Breakdowns of population shifts within each
state will be released in April (AP, Dec. 28).
"The GOP controls the governor's
mansions in 13 of the 18 states that will experience major changes
because they lose or gain seats," which "puts the top executive in
those states in a position to influence which party wins and loses."
Heritage Foundation's Dan Mitchell said Republicans "could pick up
as many as 10 to 15 seats in the House" in 2002. The GOP holds a
slim majority now "and will have a tough battle retaining all its
seats because the president's party traditionally loses seats in the
House during mid-term elections." Mitchell said of the census
numbers: "This is generally seen as the Republicans' ace in the hole
in keeping control of the House. As the population center of the
country shifts South and West, that is good news for Republicans"
(Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 29).
A block of states stretching
from Wisconsin to Connecticut "lost representation in Congress
despite gains in population." Every southwestern state save New
Mexico "gained at least one seat" (Dallas Morning News, Dec. 29).
Arizona (+2) "For a winner like
Arizona, the increase may seem like a major victory for" the GOP,
which holds five of the state's six current congressional districts,
and controls the state Legislature. However, for the first time,
Arizona's boundaries will be set by an independent commission.
Arizona Democratic Chairman Mark Fleisher said: "People think you
get two new seats, you don't. You get eight new seats. It's going to
be a whole new ball game. They couldn't slice up the pie with eight
and give us only one." Noting that Bush won the state by a "narrow
margin," Democrats see redistricting "as an opportunity for
Arizona's congressional delegation to better reflect the state's
population, which they say has become more diverse and less
conservative as its population has grown." Pollster Bruce Merrill:
"I don't think anybody really knows what's going to happen" (AP,
California (+1) Former GOP
redistricting aide Tony Quinn says California Republicans "have
resigned themselves to Democratic gains in Congress." Democrats will
try to design the new district to favor Democrats -- "and could
jigger lines to increase their chances of picking up three other
districts now held by" Reps. Doug Ose, R-03, Elton Gallegly, R-23,
and Steve Horn, R-38 (AP, Dec. 29).
Colorado (+1) "It's still unclear" how
state lawmakers will redraw district lines. Gov. Bill Owens (R) on
Dec. 28 said he anticipates "disagreement over it" and may call a
special legislative session to deal with the issue (Denver Post,
Dec. 29). Owens said "he envisions the district would be carved out"
of the south Denver metro area, "where much of the growth has taken
place. That would include the new city of Centennial as well as much
of fast-growing Douglas County." That "also would make it likely a
Republican seat." Others speculated that Colorado's seventh seat
"could be centered in Jefferson County, giving Democrats a better
chance at winning it" (Rocky Mountain News, Dec. 30).
Connecticut (-1) Connecticut "is
venturing into somewhat unfamiliar terrain" because it has not
created or eliminated a seat since 1964. Democrats and Republicans
"have been trading possible plans." Republicans say the 5th
District, currently represented by Rep. James Maloney (D), "could be
divided up among other existing districts." Meanwhile, Democrats
"have floated the prospect of doing the same" to the 2nd District,
which is represented by Rep. Robert Simmons (R), who defeated former
Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D) in November. If the Legislature cannot agree
on a plan by Sept. 15, then a bipartisan commission would be formed
by the governor, made up of eight members chosen by the majority and
minority leaders of each chamber of the Legislature. The eight then
choose a ninth tie-breaking member and must agree on a plan by Nov.
30 (New York Times, Dec. 29).
Florida (+2) Florida gained more than
3 million people during the 1990s -- "equivalent to the entire state
of Iowa -- and will pick up two more congressional seats as a
result" (Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 29). One of those seats "likely will
be in Central Florida and the other in South Florida." Florida House
Speaker Tom Feeney (R) said many congressional districts "will
change only a little. He said he didn't expect large changes in the
state's three districts with large concentrations of black citizens,
including" the 3rd District, which is represented by Rep. Corrine
Brown (D). Meanwhile, the possibility of a new seat in Central
Florida "already is prompting some prominent politicians, such as"
Feeney, "to think about a run for Congress." Florida "will have no
shortage of candidates to run for the House" in 2002, as "dozens of
state legislators bump into term limits and will be looking to move
up" (Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 29). Meanwhile, Rep. Robert Wexler,
D-19, said "he's heard Republicans will try to make it as difficult
as possible for him" after redistricting. "There are Republicans
that are talking as if their number one goal in reapportionment is
to exact retribution from me," Wexler said. "I'm not going to sit
aside and play dumb and allow them to do it to me" (Palm Beach Post,
Georgia (+2) With two new
congressional districts slated for Georgia, "one is certain to be
Republican." And -- if the other district is drawn to make it
Democratic -- Republicans "will have a lock on nine seats." In
drawing new districts, "one obviously will go to the Northside."
Democrats, "starting in Clayton County and picking up counties in
east central Georgia with sizeable black populations, and taking in
black areas of Macon, might squeeze out another" Democratic district
--- "but at the expense of making the others more solidly
Republican." In Georgia, GOP "territory... is growing rapidly."
Eventually, Georgia "will be like Florida: The Statehouse will be
controlled by the GOP while Democrats may continue to dominate
statewide, in large part because blacks vote more than" 90 percent
for Democrats and they constitute about 27 percent of the population
(Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan. 3).
Illinois (-1) "A congressman in
Chicago will likely be out of a job if analysis shows a loss of
population in the city in favor of greater numbers in the suburbs"
(Bloomington Pantagraph, Dec. 29) Illinois Census Coordinator Sue
Ebetsch said: "When you look at southern Illinois, you have to go a
long way to find 650,000 people. Obviously, the districts in
southern and central Illinois are going to get larger
geographically." At the Statehouse, "the immediate problem will be
trying to draw a congressional redistricting map that can satisfy a
Democratic-led House and a Republican Senate, led by a GOP
governor." However, "what could make the process easier and ripe for
bipartisan dealmaking is if a congressman would retire or decide to
run for another office." Already, Rep. Rod Blagojevich, D-05, is
viewed as a "likely" candidate for governor in 2002. Some observers
suggest that a compromise map "might provide each party with nine
safe seats for their incumbents and put only one really up for
grabs." If Blagojevich seeks re-election or no one retires, "some
bet the most likely to go would be a newly elected congressman --
such as freshman Rep. Tim Johnson, R-15, or, if it's a Democrat, "a
relative newcomer," such as Rep. David Phelps, D-19, or Rep. Jane
Schakowsky, D-09 (AP, Dec. 28).
Indiana (-1) "Speculation has centered
on which district will end up with two Members of Congress. Perhaps
the best scenario for that" would be freshman Rep. Brian Kerns,
R-07, ending up in the same district with Rep. John Hostettler,
R-08. House Speaker John Gregg (D), "who is said to be considering a
challenge to Hostettler, is expected to look to shift"
Democratic-leaning Vigo County into Indiana-08. Meanwhile, Rep. Mark
Souder, R-04, said "he is anticipating adding part of Elkhart County
into" his district. "Another thought" is that the 4th District
"might go south and incorporate the Anderson-Muncie area, which
would concern Souder because it would expand his district into
another media market" (Howey Political Report, Jan. 2).
Michigan (-1) EPIC/MRA pollster Ed
Sarpolus said that in Michigan "there could be as many internal
battles among Republicans as battles between the parties." For
example, freshman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-08, may want to make his
district "safer in what's often a swing district. To do that, he
must take part of another Republican's territory." Meanwhile,
Democratic analyst Mark Grebner noted that parties "often make the
mistake of attaching marginal areas to traditional party
strongholds... and then lose the strongholds by the time the next
election comes around" (South Bend Tribune, Dec. 29).
Mississippi (-1) "Long-submerged
political tensions" among the Mississippi delegation -- "and
particularly between" Rep. Ronnie Shows, D-04, and Rep. Chip
Pickering, R-03, "are likely to surface in coming weeks as this
state decides which man will not return to Congress in 2002." State
lawmakers "are almost sure to preserve the majority-black status of"
the state's 2nd District, represented by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D).
To the east, Rep. Roger Wicker, R-01, "is the only one of the five
congressmen who lives north of Interstate 20" -- "leaving only a few
counties to the South for expansion without a radical revision of
the state's districts." Far to the south, in Rep. Gene Taylor's,
D-05, district, "it seems likely his base of support in the populous
Gulf Coast would remain stable.... That seems to put the center of
the state in play, pitting Pickering and Shows against each other in
2002" (Memphis Commercial Appeal, Dec. 29).
Nevada (+1) Nevada redistricting "is
boiling down to stripes versus doughnuts.... If the existing
doughnut configuration is adopted, it would protect a heavily"
Democratic seat for Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-01, "and create a
conservative district for a Republican such as" state Sen. Jon
Porter (R), who challenged Berkley in 2000. Porter and Berkley both
"favor the doughnut, which would help each of them." However, if
Clark County is divided into an east and west CD "with more equal
numbers of" Democrats and Republicans, "both parties would have a
better chance of winning those seats with a strong candidate who has
bipartisan appeal" -- a plan that could benefit a Democrat such as
Clark County Commissioner Dario Herrera (D). Meanwhile, 2000 Senate
nominee Ed Bernstein (D) also "said he's considering running for the
new seat," as did Nevada Democratic Chairman Rory Reid, the son of
Sen. Harry Reid (D). Assemblyman David Goldwater (D) "is thinking
about it too, but won't decide until after the end of the 2001
Legislature" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, Dec. 29).
New York (-2) "Many people suggested"
a plan will be drawn "that will result in the loss of one"
Republican from upstate New York, "which has experienced most of the
population losses," and a Democrat from downstate, "probably New
York City, out of a sense of compromise. The names mentioned most
often were" Rep. Amo Houghton, R-31, "who promises a fight to keep
his district," and sophomore Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-07 (New York
Times, Dec. 29).
North Carolina (+1) North Carolina GOP
Chair Bill Cobey said the "unexpected news" of an additional
congressional district made him "even more disappointed that
Republicans didn't take back the state House." If the new district
is drawn "where the largest gains in population have occurred in the
last decade based on state estimates, then it would likely be carved
in either the Triangle or Charlotte area" (Raleigh News &
Observer, Dec. 29).
Ohio (-1) "The most likely victim"
after Ohio loses one seat is Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-10. "A possible
alternate target" for Republicans could be Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-13.
And Rep. Ted Strickland, D-06, "can expect to find his southern Ohio
district reshaped to help GOP candidates." Kucinich "is the more
likely target, although" Ohio House Republicans "would prefer to get
rid of Brown." By eliminating either Kucinich or Brown, Republicans
"could strengthen" the suburban Cleveland district held by Rep.
Steven LaTourette, R-19. That would preserve the Cleveland district
held by Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-11, the only black member of
the Ohio delegation (Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 29).
Oklahoma (-1) If all of the current
Oklahoma congressmen run in 2002, "two will have to run against each
other, though it will take redrawing the lines to determine those
opponents." However, Rep. Steve Largent, R-01, is expected to retire
-- "perhaps to run for governor" in 2002. Meanwhile, Rep. Wes
Watkins, R-03, and GOP Conference Chair J.C. Watts, R-04, "have both
considered retiring in the last two years. The way the districts are
drawn could influence their decisions." The "conventional wisdom has
been that one of the first moves will be to remove Payne County,"
home of Watkins, from the 3rd District, "as a way of punishing him"
for switching parties (Daily Oklahoman, Dec. 29).
Pennsylvania (-2) GOP legislators
"will have to decide whether to carve out one seat with as much GOP
strength as possible or try a riskier approach of drawing lines such
that GOP candidates might have a shot at winning two regional
congressional seats. In any case," Reps. William Coyne, D-14, Mike
Doyle, D-18, and Frank Mascara, D-20, "look more vulnerable today."
Another seat "that might be axed by the Legislature" is the 13th
District, located in the Philadelphia suburbs and represented by
Rep. Joseph Hoeffel (D) (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec. 29).
Texas (+2) Rep. Pete Sessions, R-05,
said of Texas' two new seats: "We consider those two seats in Texas
Republican seats. And nationally, we believe it's a pickup for the
Republican Party." However, Democratic Caucus Chairman Martin Frost,
D-24, disagreed, saying the two additional seats "could split"
between Democrats and Republicans "if one goes to the Rio Grande
Valley and the second goes to the suburbs of Houston, Austin or
Dallas-Fort Worth." Said Frost: "If one of the seats does not go to
the Valley, then they may both be Republican. But the Texas House is
controlled by the Democrats and the Texas Senate by the Republicans,
so both parties have a seat at the table." (Dallas Morning News,
Wisconsin (-1) "Many speculate that"
Rep. Tom Barrett, D-05, who is considering a bid for governor in
2002, "would simply resign, allowing his Milwaukee district to be
merged with" the 4th District, represented by Rep. Gerald Kleczka
(D). However, the GOP's narrow margin in the House "raises the
ante," and now, "neither party is willing to back down just to
ensure the rest of the state's incumbent representatives are
re-elected." At the state level, the GOP-controlled Assembly is
expected to approve one map, while the Dem-controlled Senate likely
will pass another, "increasing the likelihood that the matter will
be decided by the courts as it was in 1990 and 1980" (Wisconsin
State Journal, December