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Between the Lines: Where’s Russ Running in Missouri? He’s Everywhere

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) is literally all over Missouri when it comes to the critical choice of what office he will run for in 2012, after his St. Louis district was essentially eliminated following redistricting.

The four-term Democrat appears to be moving forward on a path for both statewide office and a potential run in the redrawn 1st or 2nd districts.

Carnahan told Roll Call last week that the open, GOP-leaning 2nd district is “one of the options that we’re assessing right now,” but he declined to stay whether it was more appealing than running in the 1st district against Rep. William Lacy Clay (D).

“This is going to be a longer process than this week,” Carnahan added, urging patience for his decision.

However, Carnahan was spotted at a Kansas City Democratic event over the weekend — on the other side of the state from his St. Louis home and the House districts in which he might run — touching off speculation that he might be eyeing a run for lieutenant governor or another statewide office. Carnahan’s office confirmed his visit to western Missouri.

“Russ Carnahan always loves taking advantage of an opportunity to spend some time with his fellow Missouri Democrats,” Communications Director Sara Howard said in a statement. “As he weighs his options for the future, he is going to continue to work to make sure he is ready to hit the ground running.”

But Wednesday, Carnahan was back on the eastern side of the state, doing a $500- to $1000-a-plate fundraising luncheon with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) in Clayton, which falls within the new 2nd district.

About a third of Carnahan’s current district was drawn into the new 2nd district, but he would face an uphill battle in an election there: Only 47.6 percent of voters backed President Barack Obama in 2008. But Carnahan might not be able to win a primary against Clay in the 1st district, where 49.5 percent of the population is black.

Nebraska: New Map Could Make Terry’s Seat Safe

The state Legislature is moving forward on a redistricting plan that could put Rep. Lee Terry’s (R) district out of reach for Democrats.

In 2008, President Barack Obama won a single electoral vote from the Omaha-based district. Nebraska is one of two states that awards electoral votes individually, instead of as a bloc. Obama’s win gave Democrats hope they could defeat Terry in 2010, but he won with 61 percent.

If the proposed changes to the Congressional map are passed, Democrats are going to have an even more difficult time in 2012 fighting for that single electoral vote.

“In 2008, the Obama campaign was, for the first time in 40 years, spending a considerable amount of time, energy and resources [in the 2nd district],” said Barry Rubin, a Democratic strategist based in Nebraska. “It’s going to make it a more difficult climb.”

The proposed map would move Sarpy County, a GOP-heavy and quickly growing suburban area, into the 2nd district and move Offutt Air Force Base into the 1st district. The Legislature’s redistricting committee approved the new map, which will be debated on the floor of the state’s unicameral Legislature this week.

“The debate will be contentious tomorrow because Democrats have claimed that (the proposed changes) makes it more advantageous to Republicans,” Nebraska Republican Party Executive Director Jordan McGrain said Wednesday. “If Barack Obama had the money to play there in 2008, I’m not sure it discourages him drastically from doing it again in 2012.”

Wisconsin: With Recalls On Tap, Mapmakers in a Hurry

This will be the summer of recall elections in Wisconsin, where local officials believe Democrats could actually wrestle control of the state Senate away from the GOP. Perhaps that’s why Republicans, who now control both chambers of the Legislature and thus the redistricting process, may be speeding up the timetable to redraw district boundaries.

“There’s every indication that the Republicans are moving their agenda forward rapidly, and it could be with recalls on the horizon they would want to move redistricting forward in advance of the traditional schedule,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D) told the Capital Times of Madison this week.

Republican leaders refused to confirm or deny their redistricting timetable, which is traditionally done in the fall after municipalities and counties reshape their wards.

But Republicans appear to be nervously eyeing the recall process — a product of Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) controversial union changes.

“You talked to Democrats who ‘think’ that Republican leaders have these grand plots,” Andrew Welhouse, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, told the Capital Times. “I guess I’ll leave it up to your journalistic standards if their motivated speculation is worth reporting on.”

Oregon: Schrader’s Not Happy About ‘the Finger’

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) had harsh words for the competing Democratic and Republican redistricting plans recently released by state legislators.

Schrader said the Democratic plan gives Rep. Greg Walden (R) “the finger” by stretching Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D) Portland-based 3rd district east within a mile of Walden’s home in Hood River County, according to the Oregonian newspaper. Schrader was not happy with the redrawing of his own district either.

With a Legislature divided nearly evenly between the two parties, Democrats said they realize their plan will need to change if it has any chance of passing through both chambers. Their goal is to protect the current structure in which they hold four of the state’s five districts.

“There has to be a smarter, more bipartisan, less egregious way to do it,” Schrader told the Oregonian.

Nevada: Haven’t We Seen This Veto Before?

Nevada Democrats have crafted new district lines after Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) vetoed their first plan on Saturday.

In his veto letter, Sandoval cited the dilution of Hispanic voters and lack of a Hispanic-majority district, which he said was in violation of the Voting Rights Act. He also charged the new lines were “drawn exclusively for political gain.”

Democrats have already put forth a new Congressional map, but it is unlikely those lines will pass Sandoval’s test either.

According to the Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston, in the new plan the Democrats added Hispanic areas to Rep. Joe Heck’s (R) 3rd district, increasing the Democratic registration advantage there to 15 points.

Democrats would also hold a 15-point registration advantage in Rep. Shelley Berkley’s (D) Las Vegas-based 1st district and a 5-point edge in the new 4th district. The vacant 2nd district, previously held by Sen. Dean Heller (R), would have a 7.4-point GOP registration advantage.

Indiana: Rokita’s Very Own Indianapolis 500 (Yards)

Republicans state lawmakers redrew Indiana’s Congressional map to put Rep. Todd Rokita a mere 500 yards outside his 4th district — and according to the Republican, that’s no accident.

Rokita told the Muncie Times he believes local lawmakers were getting back at him for pushing a nonpartisan redistricting reform commission during his tenure as secretary of state. And he said he’s not moving.

“I think once folks realize the politics of what happened, the fact that they moved the line 500 yards from where it used to be, and they know that I was a reformer for the lines and this was kind of a comeuppance thing — I think folks will understand that,” Rokita told the newspaper. “I’m not a carpetbagger.”

Steve Peoples and Joshua Miller contributed to this report.

Send news items on redistricting to Between the Lines here.

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