Between the Lines: First Maps Make Incumbents Uncomfortable

Posted April 4, 2011 at 6:29pm

Wisconsin: Union Fallout Could Complicate GOP Plans

A top official within the Wisconsin Republican Party fears that the growing Democratic effort to recall Republican state Senators for supporting limits on collective bargaining could affect GOP plans to redraw Congressional districts.

“This is potentially an issue in redistricting,” said Mark Jefferson, state GOP executive director. “The Legislature does draw the lines.”

Republicans control both chambers of the state Legislature, but Jefferson acknowledged that Democrats have a chance at winning back the state Senate majority through the recall effort.

Democrats are targeting eight Senators, having collected enough signatures just last week to trigger the first special election.

Jefferson noted that most of the districts being targeted are swing districts.

“There are more Republicans in competitive districts,” he said, adding that he expects Republicans to try to target a handful of Democratic Senators as well. “Democrats would need to hold all of theirs and take three Republican seats.”

The first of the special elections is expected in mid- to late summer.

The recall effort, which comes in the wake of GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s high-profile fight with state labor unions, has drawn the interest of liberal and conservative activists from across the nation.

— Steve Peoples

Texas: Barton and Smith Clash Over New Seats

Texas GOP Reps. Joe Barton and Lamar Smith are clashing over the Lone Star State’s redistricting plans, which may include the controversial use of “bleaching,” or packing certain districts with white voters.

Increased census numbers, largely from the Hispanic population, have given Texas four new seats in 2012. The question, of course, is how those seats will be drawn.

Smith, the delegation’s point man on redistricting, is pushing to split four new districts between Republicans and Democrats, acknowledging that Texas’ surging Hispanic population will gain minority-majority seats in the Dallas and Houston areas, according to a Politico report.

Barton, however, favors limiting the Hispanic effect, making at least three of the new districts Republican-leaning. Barton is also pushing proposals to include more white voters in Rep. Pete Sessions’ district to help his colleague, who serves as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The dispute prompted Barton to launch a profanity-laced tirade at Smith during one GOP delegation session early last month, Politico reported, and he has privately tried to oust Smith as the lead Republican negotiator on redistricting.

— S.P.

Louisiana: Boustany and Landry Likely Losers

The state Legislature will take a big step forward in drawing new Congressional districts this week. And Republican Reps. Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry are expected to be pitted against each other.

State lawmakers began voting on competing redistricting proposals Monday, all of which eliminate one of the state’s seven Congressional districts because of population losses. All the plans preserve one minority district, the New Orleans-based 2nd district seat of Rep. Cedric Richmond (D), according to the Times-Picayune.

Most of the proposals would merge Boustany’s 7th district and Landry’s 3rd district into one. A plan will not be finalized until it passes both chambers of the state Legislature, a step that may play out as early as this week.

Successful passage also requires the signature of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

— S.P.

Missouri: Proposed Maps Agree on Cutting Carnahan

The state is losing a Congressional district through reapportionment, and proposed maps drawn by state House leaders from both parties cut out Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan’s 3rd district and put all of St. Louis proper into Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay’s 1st district.

Meanwhile, a separate redistricting committee in the state Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans, was expected to release its Congressional map plan Monday.

The Associated Press reported before the map was posted that the GOP-drawn plan would also take out Carnahan’s district.

Unfortunately for Carnahan, the loss of his district could be one of the few things agreed upon in both partisan plans expected to be voted on Tuesday. The AP reported that the partisan wrangling could come from the shifting of the other Congressional districts, some of which could result in more competitive elections.

— Kyle Trygstad

Iowa: Map Pits Incumbents Against Each Other

The first proposed Congressional map for redistricting puts the homes of two different sets of incumbents in the same districts, setting the stage for competitive primaries on both sides of the aisle.

On the surface, Republican Reps. Tom Latham (4th district) and Steve King (5th district) would share a newly drawn 4th district, while Democratic Reps. Bruce Braley (1st district) and Dave Loebsack (2nd district) would share the newly drawn 1st district.

Iowa lost a seat in reapportionment, taking the state from five House seats to four and increasing the likelihood that incumbents would end up in the same district since all five Members appear interested in running for re-election.

Rep. Leonard Boswell’s 3rd district would shift from Des Moines and areas east to Des Moines and areas west to the Nebraska border. The Democrat’s election could get more difficult because it would include GOP-leaning counties in the southwest corner of the state that currently belong to King.

Loebsack’s Linn County home is in the proposed new 1st district. He also could run in the 2nd district, where no incumbent currently lives. Some of Loebsack’s base is in Johnson County, including the University of Iowa. But the new lines could present an opportunity for Christie Vilsack, wife of former Gov. and current Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Her home is based there, and she has signaled interest in running for the seat.

— Nathan L. Gonzales

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