National Redistricting News

October 2001

  • Roll Call : "Smaller Congressional Battleground Poses Challenges for Both Parties." October 24, 2001
  • Roll Call: "In 2002, Settling For 'Dangerous Half-Dozen' Open House Seats." October 24, 2001
  • Washington Times: "Potential GOP Gains With Redistricting." October 25, 2001
  • Washington Times: "House Control Tough Goal for Democrats." October 22, 2001
  • Washington Post: "Census Head Count to Stand; Adjustments Rejected." October 18, 2001
  • Commercial Appeal: "National parties help lawmakers in Miss. Redistricting." October 18, 2001
  • Washington Post: "Politics Without the Voting." October 17, 2001
  • Santa Fe New Mexican: "New Mexico not alone in redistricting woes." October 15, 2001
  • Washington Post: "Texas Judge Revises Redistricting Proposal." October 12, 2001
  • Associated Press: "Six States That Are Redistricting." October 11, 2001
  • Associated Press: "Redistricting Creates New Face Offs." October 11, 2001
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "State to go to court for redistricting OK." October 11, 2001
  • What's New in Redistricting is a summary of nationwide redistricting activity that is updated weekly.
  • California Congressional Delegation Proposed Districts Maps now online. August 31, 2001
  • Michael McDonald, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois-Springfield has compiled a redistricting scorecard with updated information about the redistricting progress in each state.

More redistricting news

Roll Call
Smaller Congressional Battleground Poses Challenges for Both Parties
By Chris Cillizza
October 24, 2001

Redistricting has been completed in nearly half of all Congressional districts across the country, but the full-scale redesign of all 435 House districts has not produced an expected increase in the number of competitive House seats, a development that has significant implications for the battle over the House majority.

In fact, a Democratic Party strategist conceded last week that there will actually be approximately half the number of competitive House seats in the 2002 elections than existed after the last election following redistricting in 1992, when there were approximately 100 competitive House seats.

This new reality has caused both Democrats and Republicans to re-examine their game plans in the high-stakes struggle for control of the House. But Democrats, who need six seats to gain control of the majority, point out that the 2002 battleground will still be much larger than in the previous two cycles.

"There are very contradictory and paradoxical elements in what's happening," explained Democratic redistricting guru Mark Gersh in an interview Friday.

Gersh, an analyst at the National Committee for an Effective Congress, believes that while "redistricting is creating less competitive seats than was the case 10 years ago," there will "still be enough seats [in play] to change control of the House" in the 2002 elections.

"I didn't think Democrats had much of a chance to win in 2000 because the percentage of marginal seats they needed to win was greater than [the percentage] Republicans won in 1994," said Gersh, referring to the year when Republicans took control of the House majority and the playing field was much larger. "The chances of winning the House back this time are much better than in 2000."

Rep. Tom Davis (Va.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, agreed with Gersh's assessment of a smaller-than-expected playing field.

"There are fewer targets than we initially anticipated," said Davis, ascribing the disparity to the fact that "lots of marginal incumbent seats have been strengthened."

Originally, national Democrats and Republicans were relying on the redistricting process in states where they controlled the legislatures to give them opportunities to increase their numbers. But in states such as California and West Virginia, incumbents have acted to protect themselves rather than to help swell their parties' national ranks, meaning there are fewer chances to knock off vulnerable Members or pick up open seats than national strategists would have hoped.

According to Gersh's analysis, out of the 193 seats that have been redrawn in the redistricting process, just 20 to 25 are marginal.

Gersh defined marginality by one of three factors: an open-seat race in a district where both parties have been competitive on the presidential level, an incumbent who won by less than 10 percent of the vote in a district that is not entirely dominated by one party, or a district where substantial new territory was added.

He projected that "We are probably going to get to 50 [competitive] seats,"a number that is scaled back from his expectation of 70 to 75 competitive seats when the year began.

Asked why he has backed off his earlier predictions, Gersh explained that "In more states there are partisan divisions [in the legislature]," meaning that a large number of states have one party in control of the state House and another in control of the state Senate or governor's chair.

Gersh also said state delegations are concerned about "the role the courts could play" in the redistricting process, which is why they would rather draft a compromise plan that bears their imprint than see control of the process taken totally out of their hands. As a result, incumbents from both parties have been "compelled" to "work together" more now than they did 10 years ago, he said.

There is no better example of incumbents banding together to protect one another than in California, where some observers expected the redistricting process to yield large Democratic gains in the 2002 elections.

Instead, the California Congressional delegation focused their efforts on shoring up themselves, eliminating only the Democratic-leaning district of Rep. Steve Horn (R), who promptly retired. Two new open seats were created a Republican-leaning one in the San Joaquin Valley and a Democratic district in Los Angeles.

In other typically competitive states, such as New Jersey and Illinois, Congressional incumbents offered compromise plans aimed at creating more safe seats for each party.

In Illinois, Speaker Dennis Hastert and Rep. Bill Lipinski (D) crafted a compromise plan that was signed by GOP Gov. George Ryan earlier this year with little of the typical partisan fanfare.

Bound by the state's slow population growth, Hastert and Lipinski decimated the district of second-term Rep. David Phelps (D) in southern Illinois. He has announced he will likely challenge Rep. John Shimkus (R) next year.

And even in some states where the levers of the redistricting process are entirely controlled by the opposition party, some incumbents seem primed to escape relatively unscathed from the redistricting imbroglio.

In West Virginia, for instance, Democrats expected to further marginalize the district won by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) in 2000, making it virtually impossible for her to win a second term in this Democratic state.

But, the state Legislature overwhelmingly approved a map in September that only slightly changes the partisan makeup of the state's three districts and will likely have little to no effect on Capito's re-election prospects in 2002.

Another state in which partisan redistricters may miss the mark is Kansas, where Rep. Dennis Moore (D) was expected to have his re-election prospects severely hampered by the Republican-controlled state legislature and governor's office.

A plan proposed by the Legislature's Special Committee on Redistricting would split Douglas County, which is dominated by the city of Lawrence, between the 2nd district held by Rep. Jim Ryun (R) and Moore's 3rd district.

However, Moore would hold onto the University of Kansas, a Democratic stronghold, which would keep his re-election hopes alive.

"Whatever happens in the end, I am going to come through this OK," Moore said in an interview. "They may cut the margin some, but we had a 9,000-vote margin last time.

"The people in this district expect that the Legislature will deal fairly and not just make this decision on the basis of partisan politics," he added.

Amy Walter, the House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, predicted that 50 seats will be contested by the parties in 2002. But she warned that with large states like New York having not even embarked on the redistricting process yet, a degree of uncertainty still exists about how wide the playing field will be next year.

Walter also pointed out that in 1992 there were an extraordinarily large number of retirements that contributed to the fertile open-seat landscape. According to her figures, at the end of October 1991 there were 14 open seats, which is comparable to the 15 House incumbents who have announced they will either retire or run for higher office in 2002.

By May 1992, however, there were 62 open seats, and by July 1992 that number had jumped to 78 open seats. Walter does not expect a similar open-seat boom this cycle because of two factors she argues are specific to 1992: Ten years ago, a number of incumbents left to escape the House banking scandal and it was also the final year Members were allowed to personally accept the funds remaining in their campaign accounts.

Despite their agreement on the smaller-than-expected playing field in 2002, Gersh and Davis draw very different conclusions on what that means for their respective parties in the coming election.

"If you have the majority and you are going to pick up a few seats in redistricting," Davis argued, the smaller playing field works to Republicans' advantage. "Every seat we can take off the list just gives them fewer targets."

Gersh believes his estimate of 50 to 55 competitive seats in 2002 "is going to be 50 to 100 percent more than in 1998 or 2000."

Gersh noted that in the past several cycles, one party has won 55 to 60 percent of the marginal seats. In 1994, Republicans won nearly 70 percent of all districts considered marginal.

Jenny Backus, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, also noted that in the past four midterm elections following a presidential election, the fewest number of seats the president's party has lost is eight.

"Democrats only need to win six seats" to win back the House, added Gersh. "If [Democrats] needed 15 seats, it wouldn't happen."

Roll Call
In 2002, Settling For 'Dangerous Half-Dozen' Open House Seats
By Stu Rothenberg
October 24, 2001

Last cycle I wrote a number of columns about the most competitive open House seats, arguing that the outcomes in those contests would determine control of the House. Republicans held their own in those races, making it impossible for the Democrats to gain enough seats to win a House majority. It's far too early this cycle, given the slow process of redistricting and significant questions about the partisan landscape next year, to come up with an equally useful list of open seats. But even now, a few very competitive and intriguing House contests without incumbents are starting to take shape.

Much of the early attention to open seats has fallen on Nevada's new 3rd district and Indiana's redrawn 2nd district (which really is closer to retiring Rep. Tim Roemer's (D) current 3rd district than to Rep. Mike Pence's (R) current 2nd district).

The new Nevada district, which is located entirely within Clark County but takes in suburban and rural areas, not the city of Las Vegas, has already boiled down to a shoot-out between Republican Jon Porter and Democrat Dario

Herrera. Registration in the new seat is virtually even (127,214 Republicans to 127,157 Democrats), as was the 2000 presidential vote (48.4 percent for Al Gore to 47.9 percent for George W. Bush).

Porter, 46, is a former city councilman and a sitting state Senator who drew 44 percent against Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) in last year's 1st district race. (Bush drew 42 percent in that district.) The Congresswoman outspent Porter $2 million to $1.4 million.

Herrera, 28, is a former state assemblyman who currently sits on the Clark County Commission. He announced his candidacy for Congress hours after the new district was drawn, and he appears to have little or no opposition for his party's nomination.

The partisan makeup of the district, the potential impact of the significant Hispanic population, Herrera's age and Porter's experience all make this one of the most interesting and closely contested open seats of the 2002 election cycle.

In Indiana, the retirement of Roemer has already set off both an interesting Democratic primary and an intriguing general-election contest. The new 2nd district, like Roemer's current district, includes all of St. Joseph and LaPorte counties (on the state's northern border). But after that, it is quite different. The redrawn district will now include only a portion of Elkhart County and none of Kosciusko County. Instead, it stretches south, even picking up Kokomo in Howard County.

GOP calculations show that the newly drawn district gave Bush 53.8 percent of its votes. That's a little more than 2 points less than what he received in the district Roemer now represents.

Four Democrats are battling for their party's nomination, including former

Rep. Jill Long Thompson and state Sen. Bill Alexa. The likely GOP nominee is Chris Chocola, a low-key, likable businessman who drew a credible 47.4 percent against Roemer last time. The challenger actually outspent Roemer $1.1 million to $734,000.

In an interesting twist, the Democratic state Legislature drew Chocola's home out of the new 2nd district, into which Chocola refuses to move (saying it would disrupt his family). And although he said he will buy property in the district, he won't "pretend" to live there, as, he noted, a number of other hopefuls plan to do.

The Republican may well be referring to both Thompson and Alexa. Thompson served two terms in Congress but represented the city of Fort Wayne and counties in extreme northeastern Indiana, none of which are in the new 2nd district. Alexa has been residing outside of the new district.

Also deserving early attention are open seats in Maine and Tennessee.

Democratic Rep. John Baldacci's bid for governor of Maine opens up his sprawling 2nd district, which covers all of the state except the extreme southeastern portions. Proving once again that nature abhors a vacuum, the open seat has already drawn at least nine significant contenders (five Democrats and four Republicans). Both primary fights may be affected by geography, ethnicity and ideology.

Republican Rep. Van Hilleary's gubernatorial effort creates a vacancy in Tennessee's 4th district. Although the state Legislature has not agreed on a final redistricting plan, the redrawn 4th is likely to remain a politically competitive middle Tennessee district. The early frontrunner for the Democratic nomination is state Sen. Lincoln Davis, but he may well face a primary. Meanwhile, the race for the Republican nomination has not yet taken form, although former University of Tennessee quarterback Heath Shuler may run.

There are other open seats, such as the two new districts in Michigan, that could see competitive races, depending on the candidates and the particular circumstances. But so far those states that have completed redistricting have tended to produce fewer, not more, competitive districts. Only time will tell whether I'll be able to do another series of "dangerous dozen" open-seat columns. It's possible that I'll have to settle this cycle for a "dangerous half-dozen."

Washington Times
Potential GOP Gains With Redistricting
By Donald Lambro
October 25, 2001

The slowly emerging outlines of the congressional redistricting map appears increasingly better for the Republicans in next year's elections.

No one wants to make any firm predictions based on the preliminary lines that are even now being drawn in key states, but the early evidence suggests that a House Democratic takeover is becoming increasingly remote.

Veteran elections analyst Stuart Rothenberg, whose Rothenberg Report closely tracks congressional races for the political community, stated earlier this month that the chances of the Democrats winning back the House "seems a formidable task."

Of course, about half the states have not even drawn or approved their new district boundary lines to readjust them to changed population counts. The process won't be completed until sometime next summer. Many of the proposed plans are being or will be challenged in court.

But an early reading of what is in the works thus far indicates that the Republicans stand to make significant gains from redistricting alone ˇ perhaps as many as 10 new seats. Winning some of the open seats or defeating incumbents would be icing on the cake for the GOP.

In Michigan, for example, GOP lawmakers merged two Democratic districts and have made the district of Democratic Rep. David Bonoir (he is leaving his seat to run for governor) more Republican. That plan, if it holds up, could result in a devastating three-seat loss for the Democrats there.

Pennsylvania is slated to lose two House seats. But Republicans, who control the legislative process there, hope to come out ahead by redrawing two to three Democratic majority districts to favor the GOP.

"The GOP's 11-10 congressional district advantage is likely to grow to 12-7 or even 13-6," Mr. Rothenberg says.

Perhaps the most furious political battle in the redistricting sweepstakes is going on in Texas, which stands to gain two seats under population reapportionment. But the GOP thinks it can do better than that ˇ possibly winning four to six more seats in the state's delegation, where the Democrats now have a 17-13 advantage.

A GOP plan approved earlier this month by a Democratic state judge would have decimated the Democrats' congressional ranks. But the judge, in a struggle filled with backroom intrigue and enormous political pressure, reversed himself and adopted a competing map that the Democrats favored. Then, last week, an all-Republican state Supreme Court rejected that plan in a 6-3 decision, ruling that the judge improperly switched plans at the last minute. Stay tuned.

Meantime, California has turned into a deep disappointment for the Democrats. The party had once hoped to gain more than five seats, but may gain one at best.

The Democrats control the state house and the legislature, and thus were in a solid position to redraw the state's district lines anyway they wanted. But traditional deal making between the parties to protect their incumbents in the 52-seat delegation has prevented that from happening.

With one proviso: Rep. Gary Condit is under intense pressure from top Democratic officials not to seek re-election after the mysterious disappearance of former intern Chandra Levy, with whom Mr. Condit had an intimate relationship. The GOP has a good shot at winning that seat.

Republicans are expected to pick up additional seats elsewhere, including Florida, Arizona and Nevada.

Democrats will partially offset some of these GOP gains by picking up at least two new seats in Georgia and, possibly, two other redrawn Republican districts that have opened them up to a potential Democratic takeover.

Another big factor working on behalf of the Republicans in this election cycle is the power of incumbency, which is going to be especially strong in an election season that is overshadowed by the war on terrorism. It will be very hard for challengers to be able to raise other issues against an incumbent, especially wedge issues, in a wartime environment when voters are far less likely to favor change.

In recent elections, there have been roughly 50 congressional races that were considered competitive, though this time it may be much less than that.

"Obviously, the fewer the number of competitive races nationally, the more difficult it will be for the Democrats to gain the six net seats that they will need to take over the House," Mr. Rothenberg says.

There are other wild cards in the coming months that could affect the outcome of the 2002 elections: whether the economy picks up or the recession lasts longer than anyone expects and unemployment continues to rise, or a major disaster in the war on terrorism that causes Mr. Bush to plunge in the polls.

But for now, political prospects do not look good for House Democrats. And the gains that the GOP will make in this year's redistricting battles are probably going to last for the rest of this decade, if not beyond.

Washington Times
House Control Tough Goal for Democrats
By Donald Lambro
October 22, 2001

The combination of Republican redistricting gains and fewer competitive races is making a Democratic takeover of the House increasingly remote next year, say election analysts.

"Those few states that have either completed redistricting or are moving ahead with likely plans seem to be drawing relatively few competitive districts," says Stuart Rothenberg, a veteran congressional elections analyst.

"Obviously, the fewer the number of competitive races nationally, the more difficult it will be for the Democrats to gain the six net seats that they will need to take over the House," Mr. Rothenberg said in a recent report assessing next year's congressional races.

Of course, the 2002 midterm congressional elections are still a year away and anything can happen to change the political dynamics between now and then, especially if the economy takes a lot longer to recover than current forecasts suggest.

But for now, the chance of the Democrats taking control of the House "seems a formidable task," Mr. Rothenberg said.

The biggest factor that Republicans have going for them is the congressional redistricting process, which is drawing new district lines to adjust for changes in each state's population. Republican campaign officials believe they may pick up a net gain of 10 House seats once all the lines are drawn, largely in those states where they control the legislative redistricting.

Some Republican National Committee officials think their gains may be somewhat less than that, perhaps half a dozen or so. Democratic congressional campaign officials now believe that the redistricting trade-offs probably will be a wash at best.

About half the states have not yet drawn or approved their new district boundary maps, a process that is unlikely to be completed until sometime next summer, and several of the changes are expected to be challenged in the courts. In many cases, that will delay candidate recruitment in both parties.

But the early indications are that Republicans stand to make significant gains from redistricting alone.

In Michigan, for example, Republican lawmakers have merged two Democratic districts and have made Democratic Rep. David E. Bonior's seat ˇ which he intends to leave to run for governor ˇ more Republican, resulting in a potential three-seat loss for the Democrats there.

Pennsylvania will lose two House seats under the reapportionment process, but Republicans, who control the state redistricting machinery, are attempting to create another two Republican seats by erasing two to three Democratic districts. "The GOP's 11-10 congressional district advantage is likely to grow to 12-7 or even 13-6," Mr. Rothenberg forecasts.

In Texas, which will gain two additional seats, a redistricting plan being fought out in a state court could boost the Republican delegation by at least two seats and perhaps more if Republicans are successful in their appeal.

California, which will gain one new seat, is turning into a debacle for the Democrats, who have hoped to make its biggest congressional gains there. However, deal-making between the parties to protect their incumbents probably will result in giving the Democrats only a single pickup, though even that could be offset by a Republican victory in Rep. Gary A. Condit's district. Democratic officials there were urging Mr. Condit not to run in the wake of the disappearance of a former intern with whom he had an intimate relationship.

Elsewhere, Republicans are expected to pick up new seats in Florida, Arizona and Nevada.

Democrats likely will offset some of these redistricting losses by picking up at least two new seats in Georgia, and perhaps two other redrawn Republican districts that have opened them up to Democratic takeover.

Democrats in North Carolina, where they control the entire redistricting process, seem likely to pick up that state's new seat as well.

Washington Post
Census Head Count to Stand; Adjustments Rejected; U.S. Funds at Stake
By DÝVera Cohn
October 18, 2001

Census Bureau officials said yesterday that they will not statistically adjust the 2000 Census numbers and instead will go ahead with plans to use the door-to-door head count as the basis for distributing billions of dollars in federal program funds.

They said they could not improve on that basic count by adjusting the numbers, as they had hoped, because a quality-check survey they conducted was seriously flawed.

The decision disappointed Democrats, civil rights groups and big-city mayors, who had hoped the adjusted numbers would raise the population total for minorities, who were disproportionately missed in the head count. Republicans, who have questioned whether the adjusted numbers would be more accurate, praised it.

The contentious debate over which set of census numbers is the most reliable has been raging for years because of the high stakes: Democrats believe they benefit from adjusted figures, while Republicans say the figures add "virtual" people to the Democrats' advantage. The issue was fought in a lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court, which ruled that adjusted numbers could not be used to apportion House seats among the states.

Then, in a surprise decision in March, the Census Bureau said that a statistically adjusted count could not be used to redraw other political boundaries within states, from congressional to local school districts.

Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans had the final say in that decision, but he left yesterday's ruling in the hands of the career officials at the bureau.

The latest decision means adjusted figures will not be used to parcel out funds for Medicaid and other social service programs. In addition, government measures of poverty and unemployment, which are now based on adjusted counts, likely will use the basic count in the future.

Acting Census Director William G. Barron Jr. said he and other bureau officials made the decision because, over the summer, they discovered problems with the household survey that they had conducted to double-check the raw census count. That survey, he said, failed to detect that a significant number of people had been counted twice by the census.

Many of them, census officials said, could have been college students, children in joint custody and people with second homes -- all of whom have more than one address during the year.

Because of that shortcoming, Barron told a news conference, the post-census survey results "simply cannot be used in their current form" to adjust the census. The new information, he said, makes it even more clear that it "would have been a terrible mistake" to release adjusted figures for political redistricting.

Furthermore, Barron said it is "unlikely" that it will be practical for the bureau to release adjusted redistricting numbers in the future because the tight deadline set by law does not allow enough time for a proper determination of whether an adjustment would improve data quality.

Redistricting counts are due by April 1 after a census year.

"A census is tough enough without the political maelstrom" that surrounds the adjustment issue, he said. "I wish it would just stop."

Political agreement on this issue appears unlikely, however. Shortly after the decision was announced, Rep. Dan Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House

Government Reform Committee's census panel, issued a statement saying that "it is time to put adjustment, for political purposes, to rest."

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), a former ranking member of that subcommittee, put out a statement saying that the announcement "gave us more questions than answers" and challenging the bureau's reasoning. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, some of whose members are threatening to sue over the decision, said the decision is "unfair and unwise" and means that "America's cities will get the short end of the stick."

However, Barron said the discovery that the census erred in counting more people twice than was previously thought is not entirely bad news. It means that, at the national level, the double-counts compensate for those who were missed, yielding a more accurate net total. Census officials said, however, that this may not be true at the local level.

The Census Bureau has acknowledged that it missed 1.6 percent of the population in 1990. According to the new research, it missed less than 1 percent in 2000.

The net undercount of Hispanics and African Americans has been reduced, Barron said. On the other hand, he said, "there may actually have been an over-count of the white population."

Barron said he hopes the quality-check survey results can be improved enough so they can be used in the future for distributing federal funds.

The Commercial Appeal
National parties help lawmakers in Miss. Redistricting
By Reed Branson
October 18, 2001
 
Even as state officials and political strategists huddle behind computer terminals, sketching competing congressional redistricting maps, Republican and Democratic officials in Washington are working even further behind the scenes to keep tabs on the process here.

With a narrow 219-210 Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans and Democrats alike are focusing on redistricting battles here and in pivotal states around the country, offering technical advice and legal assistance where needed.

Their efforts illustrate that drawing new congressional district boundaries is about far more than connecting geographical communities.

Rather, loyalists in both parties are most concerned about whether redrawn districts are packed with Democratic- or Republican-leaning voters.

"This is a key process for the (2002) elections right now," said Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington. "We believe we'll pick up 8 to 10 seats through the redistricting process."

Democrats are equally focused.

"This is a real priority for Democrats, clearly," said Greg Speed, a spokesman for Impac 2000, a national Democratic committee focusing solely on redistricting efforts around the country.

"It is an opportunity to craft a fair district that (Mississippi Democratic U.S. Rep.) Ronnie Shows can win, and we've been thus far primarily working with the delegation and providing a forum for them to share their concerns."

States handle congressional redistricting in a variety of ways. In some states, special commissions draw the maps. In many, such as Mississippi and Tennessee, state lawmakers do it. Regardless, the key is which party is in charge.

That control, said Speed, is split rather evenly around the country. In the Mid-South, though, it is controlled by statehouses dominated by Democrats, but often driven by other interests.

Arkansas state legislators completed the task earlier, essentially preserving the status quo, a 3-to-1 Democratic advantage. Mississippi lawmakers are expected to address the issue in a special session later this year. And Tennessee lawmakers may address it when they return in January.

Mississippi is of particular note, though. Because it is losing one of its five congressional seats due to national population shifts, the outcome here will be crucial in the battle for control of the U.S. House. Most observers predict the reduction in the number of districts will put Shows and Rep. Chip Pickering, a Republican, in the same district.

Democrats here currently hold three of five House seats. And supporters of Shows, who has a base in Southeast Mississippi, and Pickering, representing East-Central Mississippi, are battling over how to merge the two districts.

Legislative leadership appears at an impasse.

In large measure, that comes because so many key players, from House Speaker Tim Ford (D-Baldwyn) to Senate President Pro Tem Travis Little (D-Corinth), are also from Northeast Mississippi.

And key players in that region vehemently opposed Democratic redistricting plans that lump them in with conservative Jackson suburbs.

In an interview Wednesday, Ford signaled his support for parts of a Democratic proposal that would include some Jackson suburbs in a predominantly Northeast Mississippi district.

"We've seen organized campaigns out of (congressional offices) to go one way or another. That's been a hindrance, but it's part of the political process,'' said Ford, who said a House-Senate compromise could emerge next week. "After that, all bets are off."

Party loyalists, both here and in Washington, are taking note, meeting privately with key leaders and testing loyalties.

"The pressure is immense from both sides," said Sen. Mike Chaney (R-Vicksburg), who serves on a committee seeking a consensus. Key House and Senate leaders are being deluged with telephone calls from partisan supporters as well as community leaders.

"It would be a travesty for a state led by a Democratic governor, a Democratic (House of Representatives) speaker and Democratic lieutenant governor to hand over three seats to the Republican Party," said state Rep. George Flaggs (D-Vicksburg), who serves on a joint panel now struggling to build consensus around a plan.

Flaggs argues that while a Democrat, U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, currently occupies the congressional district on the Coast, it is essentially a district that favors Republicans.

Taylor is among the most conservative Democrats in Congress.

While the national Republican and Democratic presence is not particularly visible on the ground here, their presence is nevertheless notable.

"We help put together legal strategies and fund legal efforts for states, and we provide technical assistance in terms of map drawing, providing members the opportunities to look at data and understand the affected potential maps may have,"Impac's Speed said.

"But more than anything else," he said, "we've been trying to work with delegations, get them on the same page and get them communicating. Mississippi is a great example of where we've seen success so far."

Indeed, the politically diverse Democratic delegation - especially Shows and U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), would appear to be working closely to communicate with state lawmakers.

Republicans here said state party officials are more active. But, on the national level, the party is ready for battle as well.

"We have legal counsel watching. The Republican National Committee has a separate redistricting office with counsel on staff," the NRCC's Forti said. "If anybody had to step in, they would."

Contact Jackson, Miss., Bureau reporter Reed Branson at (601) 352-8631.

Washington Post
Politics Without the Voting
By David S. Broder
October 17, 2001

Out of sight but not out of mind is the apt description for politics in America at this moment. The focus on terrorism has made partisanship unfashionable.

Candidates for mayor in cities across the country and for governor in New Jersey and Virginia, the two states holding elections next month, are debating as usual about taxes and transportation, crime and corruption, whether the public is listening or not.

On Capitol Hill, the old squabbles over economic policy and the role of government are beginning to resurface after a month of unusual unity following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But the most consequential political strugglesˇthe ones with long-lasting effectsˇare taking place largely unnoticed by most citizens. These are the battles over redistricting that will literally set the lines of electoral advantage for the next decade.

I was reminded of this reality the other day here when I saw Michigan state Sen. Dianne Byrum. Byrum was the Democratic nominee in a race for the House of Representatives that I had covered last yearˇa classic open-seat contest in which she ultimately lost to Republican Mike Rogers by a scant 160 votes.

The Rogers-Byrum race in the district formerly held by Democrat Deborah Stabenow, now a U.S. senator, was so competitive and so vital to both parties that it became the center of national attention and fund-raising. It is exactly the kind of race where one would expect a rematch. But when I asked Byrum if she was planning to run again next year, she said, ýAbsolutely not.ţ

She will be term-limited out of her state Senate seat in 2002, she said, so she is considering three options. She may seek statewide office, step back and run for the Michigan house of representatives, or retire to private life until another political opportunity opens.

Why not run against Rogers again? Because, she said, a Republican redistricting plan has boosted the GOP voting strength by about 5 percent, making the once-competitive seat almost safe for the incumbent.

That same plan so radically redrew the home district of the No. 2 Democrat in the House, Minority Whip David Bonior, that Bonior has decided to end his House career and jump into a three-way primary for governor. And it also altered the territory of the senior House Democrat, John Dingell, sending him away from his familiar blue-collar, labor constituents in Down River Detroit and into the independent, academic high-tech atmosphere of Ann Arbor.

Thus the political fortunes of many incumbents and potential challengersˇand the future representation of millions of citizensˇhave been altered without a single vote being cast. Similar changes occur every 10 years, when the post-Census remapping of the House takes place. But this time around, few other than the politicians are paying attention. Worries about terrorism and anthrax put everything else in the shadow.

And yet, because the parties are so even in strength, the line-drawing taking place now may well determine whether the House of Representatives has a Republican or Democratic majority, not just for two years but for the next decade. Whichever party can gain an edge in the current redistricting will have an immense advantage.

Ironically, the final word in this vital political struggle is often held by unelected officialsˇfederal judges. This week, for example, a three-judge federal court is scheduled to hear a dispute on the new congressional map for Texas.

Partisan stalemate in the legislature left it up to District Judge Paul Davis, a Democrat who had decided not to seek reelection to the state bench, to draw the first, provisional version of the 32 districts Texas will have for the next decadeˇtwo more than its current delegation. In early October Davis had sketched a map that would have forced five Democratic incumbents either to run in Republican-leaning districts or face each other. It would have virtually guaranteed Republicans, who now hold 13 of the 30 seats, a majority in the delegation.

But after a week of complaints from Hispanic groups, who claimed they were being denied proper representation, and pressure from Democrats, who said his map would doom their efforts to recapture the House, Judge Davis redrew his plan. The new version protects almost all incumbents and makes it likely the Democrats will emerge with either their current 17 seats or one more. Now the Republicans are crying foul.

Similar schemes are playing out in a couple dozen other states, usually for smaller but still vital stakes. Virtually unnoticed, politics go right on.

Santa Fe New Mexican
New Mexico not alone in redistricting woes
By Barry Massey
October 15, 2001

In Texas, redistricting has fallen to the courts because the Legislature failed to approve any plans. In Oregon, the governor and Legislature couldn't agree on new congressional districts.

New Mexico faces the prospect of having courts decide the shape of new congressional, legislative and state Board of Education districts. It could become clearer in the next few days how judges will handle redistricting in New Mexico.

A state court in Santa Fe has scheduled a "status conference" on redistricting lawsuits today. That could determine a timetable for how the judge will proceed.

A panel of three federal judges holds a hearing Wednesday in Albuquerque to consider whether to give the Legislature another chance to work on redistricting or have the court move ahead with a pending lawsuit.

"There is nothing surprising about what has taken place in New Mexico. It very much fits the pattern," says Tim Storey, a redistricting analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

States having the most difficulty with redistricting, he says, are those with a divided government, like New Mexico.

Republican Gov. Gary Johnson vetoed plans passed by the Democratic-
controlled Legislature for new boundaries of congressional, House and Senate and Board of Education districts. Johnson signed a bill for redistricting the Public Regulation Commission, which regulates utilities and other industries.

Redistricting is the once-a-decade task of adjusting district boundaries for population changes reflected in the decennial census. The goal is to equalize populations in district to comply with the legal doctrine of "one person, one vote."

Republicans and Democrats see redistricting as a way to gain or preserve influence during the next decade. The boundaries of a district can be drawn so the demographics and voting behavior of its residents favors candidates from one party.

In Oregon, courts are handling legislative and congressional redistricting. The Democratic governor of Oregon vetoed a congressional redistricting plan approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature. Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature failed to agree on a legislative redistricting plan.

Oregon, unlike New Mexico, has its secretary of state draw new legislative districts if legislators and the governor can't reach an agreement. But lawsuits were filed contesting what the secretary of state did.

In Texas, a federal court is to start a trial later this month to review a congressional redistricting map drawn by a state judge.

Courts got the assignment after the Republican governor of Texas, Rick Perry, decided not to call a special session of the Legislature because it appeared unlikely that lawmakers could reach a consensus on new congressional districts.

Johnson made a similar decision after the New Mexico Legislature's special session on redistricting last month. Johnson didn't ask lawmakers to convene yet another special session on redistricting because he thought it would prove fruitless.

However, that could change if judges - federal or state - make it clear that they will decide redistricting if the Legislature and governor don't try again to put aside their political differences and reach a compromise.

Exactly how judges will do that remains uncertain. One option is for a court to set a timetable, saying that it will move ahead with a lawsuit starting on a certain date.

That effectively would give the Legislature and the governor a deadline for reaching an agreement, says Deputy Attorney General Stuart Bluestone. He doubts a court would directly order the Legislature to begin work again on redistricting.

"I don't think any court can order the Legislature into a special
session or order the governor to convene a special session," Bluestone said. "By the separation of powers principle, you can't have one branch of government ordering the other what to do."

If the courts take the approach that Bluestone envisions, Johnson will have a critical decision to make: call another special session on redistricting or let the courts do it. The Legislature has the power to convene itself into a special session, but it's never done that.

Even if Johnson and the Legislature agree on a redistricting plan, there's nothing to prevent it from being challenged in court. Judges could end having the final word on redistricting.

The Washington Post
Texas Judge Revises Redistricting Proposal
By Thomas Edsall
October 12, 2001

A Texas state judge has revised a congressional redistricting plan to the great benefit of Democrats, abandoning a proposal that could have cost the party at least five seats.

Judge Paul Davis, a Democrat, had infuriated members of his party with his original plan, issued last week. Since then, Democratic state House Speaker Pete Laney had sought revisions, and late Wednesday the judge agreed to many of Laney's suggestions.

The new plan is a victory for Democratic strategists seeking to gain control of the House in 2002, and for Texas Democrats, who would likely continue to hold 17 of the state's 32 seats, even though the state has been trending strongly toward the GOP. Because of population growth, Texas is gaining two congressional districts.

Under the original Davis plan, the prospective Democratic losses in Texas were so large that the party's chances of taking back the House in 2002 were severely threatened.

The revisions outraged Republicans. "We are dumbfounded by the bizarre actions undertaken by Judge Davis," Susan Weddington, the state GOP chairman said yesterday. "These radical changes have dramatically changed the partisan outcome."

Democrats were delighted: "We got a good break," said Rep. Martin Frost.

The scope of Davis's revisions surprised both parties. Republican and Democratic operatives said the new plan, which must be reviewed by a three-judge federal panel, would likely result in a 17 to 15 Democratic edge in the post-2002 delegation. This would represent no losses for Democrats, who hold a 17 to 13 majority now, and a gain of two seats for Republicans, far smaller than the party had hoped for.

Under the plan Davis initially proposed, Republicans could have won 19 to 21 districts, for a net pickup of at least six seats and a net loss for the Democrats of at least four.

While these are relatively small numbers in the 435-member House, such differences can have major consequences. Experts expect only about 50 races to be competitive, so an advantage of six or a deficit of four can determine which party wins overall control.

Republicans, who have a nine-seat advantage in the House, have said they will gain 8 to 10 seats as a result of redistricting nationwide, while Democrats contend neither party will gain or lose seats in redistricting. The competing predictions are important, because fundraisers and candidate recruiters have a far easier sell if they can legitimately claim that their party will be in the majority after 2002.

Both parties are conducting detailed analyses of the new Texas plan, but the preliminary findings are that the reelection prospects of Democratic Reps. Max Sandlin, Ralph M. Hall, Charles W. Stenholm, Jim Turner and Frost have improved. Only one Democratic incumbent remains in trouble: Ken Bentsen, who is white, was put into an overwhelmingly black and Hispanic district with fellow Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who is black.

Frost's district went from leaning Republican to solidly Democratic. Sandlin's district became 3 percentage points more Democratic, and Turner's gained 6 Democratic percentage points, according to an analysis using voting results from a recent, close statewide election.

Democrats contend they will use the Voting Rights Act to argue for the creation of a more Democratic-leaning district in the Houston-Harris County area in which Bentsen could seek reelection. Bentsen is considering a bid for the Senate seat being vacated by Phil Gramm (R-Tex).

Associated Press
Six States That Are Redistricting
October 11, 2001

Here are the six states that because of redistricting could have House primary races involving incumbents from the same party, and the probable candidates:

-Georgia: Republicans Bob Barr and John Linder

-Indiana: Republicans Steve Buyer and Brian Kerns

-Michigan: Democrats John Dingell and Lynn Rivers; Democrats James Barcia and Dale Kildee

-Pennsylvania: Democrats Robert Borski and Joseph Hoeffel; Democrats Tim Holden and Paul Kanjorski

-Ohio: Republican Legislature still redrawing lines

-Oklahoma: Democratic Legislature still redrawing lines

Associated Press
Redistricting Creates New Face Offs
By Claude R. Marx
October 11, 2001

Democratic Reps. Tim Holden and Paul Kanjorski are friends and often travel together to their adjoining northeast Pennsylvania districts. Next year, those districts probably won't exist and the congressmen's trips will be aimed at putting each other out of work.

The two Democrats are among eight pairs of House incumbents from the same party who, because of redistricting, are likely to face each other in primaries in 2002.

The Holden-Kanjorski matchup is the probable outcome of a redistricting plan drawn up by the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Legislature to incorporate a two-seat loss because of stagnant population growth. A race between Democratic Reps. Robert Borski and Joseph Hoeffel in the Philadelphia area also is likely. The final plan is expected to be approved by the Legislature by the end of the year.

Kanjorski is resigned to making the best of a bad situation.

"We have talked a lot about it but have vowed not to become enemies even if we are opponents. But I am going to run and win,'' he said.

Holden said he is "withholding speculation and comment until the final draft is approved, though running against a fellow Democrat is not my first choice.''

Primary matchups between members of the same party also are likely in Georgia, Indiana, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Ohio. In Georgia, Indiana and Ohio the contests involve Republicans, while the races in Oklahoma and Michigan would be between Democrats.

In 1992, after the last redistricting, there were nine member vs. member matchups, including four in primaries.

Spokesmen for both national parties say they will not take sides in such primaries. Neither party relishes the idea of a bruising primary that could leave an incumbent damaged in a year when both parties believe they can win a majority. Republicans now hold a nine-seat majority.

All the primaries would be in states losing seats except Georgia, which is gaining two seats because of population growth. There, Democrats who control the Legislature redrew the lines to try to reduce the GOP's 8-3 advantage in the congressional delegation. As a result, Reps. Bob Barr and John Linder, both Republicans, are expected to run against each another in a suburban Atlanta district.

The outcome of races involving incumbents is hard to predict, even if the composition of the new district strongly favors one of the candidates, said Amy Walter, who follows House races for the Cook Political Report, a Washington newsletter.

"Geography is important but a lot of it depends on the mood the voters are in and what is going on in the country. During a national security crisis, one with a strong military background might have an advantage even though he does not represent a majority of the new district,'' she said.

Walter notes that when members of the same party compete, seniority is often emphasized.

But sometimes the primaries can get nasty.

In 1992, when Reps. William Lipinski and Martin Russo were thrown together in a Democratic primary for a Chicago-area seat, Lipinski said Russo was a "legislative front man for special interests.'' Russo called Lipinski a "machine politician who hits up his employees for contributions.''

Lipinski won by 22 percentage points.

Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., said the prospect of facing fellow Democrat Jim Barcia next year "puts a certain strain'' on the election. But that is part of politics, he said.

"No one owns the job. We have to fight for it every two years and this is another race to keep my seat, though one that happens to be against a colleague,'' Kildee said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
State to go to court for redistricting OK
October 11, 2001

Georgia filed suit Wednesday in federal court to win approval for new redistricting maps instead of taking them to the U.S. Justice Department, which the state has always done in the past. State Attorney General Thurbert Baker said Tuesday the issue is likely to be settled much more quickly by going straight to the court, which is where it likely would end up anyway.

"We have elected to proceed directly with judicial review ... in an effort to save valuable time and minimize the cost to Georgia taxpayers," Baker said.

State Republicans, who had little influence during two special redistricting sessions in August and September, announced their intention to join in what is expected to be a lengthy trial before a three-judge panel in Washington.

"It is extremely rare for a state to take this route," said Senate Minority Leader Eric Johnson, R-Savannah. "It is also more expensive and slower."

The federal Voting Rights Act requires Georgia and several other states to submit those changes for review to the Justice Department or a federal court before any change in election law goes into effect.

In the past, the state has submitted such matters to the Justice Department.

Baker, however, chose to go straight to the courts by filing the lawsuit against the Republican-controlled Justice Department.

"It's a matter of getting to a much fairer forum," said John Kirincich, executive director of the Georgia Democratic Party.

The General Assembly is required to redraw legislative and congressional districts every 10 years after the census to reflect population changes. Democrats have said the new districts were drawn to secure their majority in the Legislature and to make gains in the Republican-dominated congressional delegation.

 



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