Sept. 16, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Parties Prepping for Redistricting Fight

“In 2003, progressive groups attacked redistricting as a political problem, but it was a legal problem,” said Democratic strategist Matt Angle. He stressed the need for progressive groups to embrace the legal cause, as well as the map-drawing and electoral aspects.

In July 2008, representatives from the major groups involved in the redistricting process — including the National Committee for an Effective Congress, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees — met at Democratic National Committee headquarters.

The Democratic Governors Association and DLCC are focused on making sure that Democrats have as many seats at the redistricting table as possible. That means winning gubernatorial and state legislative races beginning this year.

“It’s all incidental if you don’t have the seats,” said one Democratic strategist. “It’s important to control the chambers.”

The governorships of 36 states are up for election next year. The governor has a direct role in Congressional remapping (whether it is veto power or appointment of a commission) in all but eight states. State legislatures will draw the lines in 36 states.

The DLCC is also involved in the Foundation for the Future, a Democratic 527 organized in July 2006 to prepare for redistricting.

The AFSCME is also involved with the foundation and party insiders credit the labor union for important work at the state level and bringing financial backing to the table. The NCEC, including Washington Director Mark Gersh, is considered the gold-standard when it comes to number-crunching, data analysis and projecting demographic trends in districts on the Democratic side and is also a key player in the Foundation for the Future.

Democrats view the NCEC’s work as critical because redistricting is more than drawing maps. It’s about understanding population trends in order to draw districts that survive electoral ups and downs. Data analysis is also important because this is the first remapping that will be undertaken with a Democratic-led Justice Department since passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The foundation appears to be the latest version of the National Democratic Redistricting Project, which began in the late 1980s and was led by then-Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.) in the early 1990s.

Then-Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) led the party’s effort a decade ago through IMPAC 2000, and he is also likely to be involved again.

Angle, Frost’s former chief of staff, worked closely with IMPAC 2000 and has subsequently focused on Democratic efforts in Texas and is working as an outside consultant to the Foundation for the Future. Former DCCC political director and media consultant Peter Cari was executive director of IMPAC 2000 and is likely to be involved in the overall redistricting effort in some capacity.

In 2002, redistricting helped George W. Bush buck history, as Republicans gained seats in the president’s first midterm elections for only the second time since Abraham Lincoln. Fueled by their losses that cycle and a mid-decade redistricting by Republicans in Texas, Democrats are determined to not let that happen again.

“We want to make sure things are fair,” Thompson said. “We saw what happened in Texas where there was pretty unfair tactics used to redistrict that state. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

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