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Between the Lines: Redistricting Meets Rough-and-Tumble Politics

Louisiana: Jindal Using Clout

More than a week into the state Legislature’s redistricting session, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has stepped up his presence in the debate over the redrawing of the Congressional district map, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

At issue is a move by some in the state House to rotate the north-south running 4th and 5th districts into east-west districts, which could put one of the Republican-held districts in play for Democrats by combining the northern cities of Shreveport and Monroe into the same district.

The altered design would create a district that would be more than 40 percent African-American.

Jindal and GOP Reps. John Fleming and Rodney Alexander are pushing to maintain the two districts’ general placement, which runs from the Arkansas border toward southern Louisiana.

With the state losing a district through reapportionment, however, those districts will likely need to push further into southern Louisiana, the newspaper reported. The New Orleans-based 2nd district would likely extend northwest toward Baton Rouge to maintain its majority-minority status.

— Kyle Trygstad 

New York: GOP Lawmaker Wants Prisoners Counted

State Sen. Joe Griffo (R) recently lashed out at a law that prevents inmates housed in upstate New York’s prisons from being counted in upstate census numbers for redistricting purposes.

The state Legislature approved a law last year requiring that inmates, most of whom are from the Empire State’s urban centers to the south, be counted based on their addresses before their incarceration. The shift — which affects an estimated 600,000 prisoners, according to the state Democratic Party — was opposed by Republicans, who want as many people counted in their upstate conservative strongholds as possible.

“There was a law last year that they should not be counted in the census up here, upstate. I fought that. I think it’s wrong,” Griffo told WKTV recently. “These individuals are here. Right now, that’s law. We’re looking at possible litigation and other things. We have to look at all of the options available to us, because as I said before, I think the policy is unfair and inconsistent.”

— Steve Peoples

California: Partisan Sniping Over Independent Panel

The 14-member independent redistricting commission was immediately criticized by state Republicans for selecting a map consultant they saw as less qualified than Claremont McKenna College’s Rose Institute, the San Jose Mercury News reported. According to the newspaper, the Rose Institute has Republican ties and Oakland-based Q2 Data and Research has Democratic ties.

“The commission was asked by myself and others not to pick that underqualified firm,” newly elected California GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said. “The decision to hire Q2 may very well undermine the trust of voters in this entire process.”

The Rose Institute said in a statement it was passed over in favor of Q2 because the private college refused to disclose all of its donors over the last 10 years — something it deemed both inappropriate and impractical for an educational institution.

— K.T.

Nation: Data — Delivered

The U.S. Census Bureau delivered the final population totals and demographic data last week ahead of schedule. Each state now has the raw data to begin redrawing Congressional, state and local district lines.

The nation’s population over the past decade increased by nearly 10 percent, the census data show. The South and West experienced the largest population booms, accounting for 84.4 percent of the growth.

The five most populous cities based on the 2010 count were New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia.

The Census Bureau said that the fastest growing metro areas in the country were Palm Coast, Fla., St. George, Utah, Las Vegas, Raleigh, N.C., and Cape Coral, Fla.

— Christina Bellantoni

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