Republicans were at risk of falling further behind Democrats in organizing for the post-2010 round of redistricting, but a new group led by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) is looking to fill the gap.
Redistricting may seem like a far-off exercise, but both parties are solidifying their strategies to tackle the expansive and expensive decennial task. Making Americas Promise Secure, the group headed by Lott and Gingrich, is a 501(c)(4) focused on the GOP redistricting effort.
Until now, the two parties have taken different approaches to tackling the electoral, analytical and legal components of the redistricting process.
Traditionally, the Republican National Committee centralized the GOP effort while Democrats relied on a coalition of outside groups. But passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in 2002 left Republicans scrambling to reconfigure their traditional strategy, since the RNC used to fund the redistricting tasks with soft money. Democrats, meanwhile, because they had not relied on soft money to fund their redistricting efforts in the past, have been viewed as better positioned ahead of the 2011-2012 redraw.
We saw a need and stepped up to fill it, said Charlie Black, chairman of the MAPS Board of Directors.
Earlier this year, Republicans were in the conversation stage while Democrats were hitting their stride. This spring a group of former high-level operatives from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee formed the National Democratic Redistricting Trust to lead the legal leg of the partys redistricting tripod.
The groups trustees include former DCCC executive directors Brian Wolff and John Lapp and former DCCC Political Director Peter Cari. Prominent Democratic attorney Bob Bauer, who is married to White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, is the chief counsel for the group.
During the last round of redistricting, many Democrats felt like they couldnt match the Republicans legal resources, so the redistricting trust is the Democratic effort to bolster that component of the partys strategy.
Democrats believe that a trust and not a 527 or 501(c)(4) is the most flexible structure for this particular purpose, since other traditional tax-exempt structures arent appropriate and the group does not support specific candidates.
Were putting together a national legal advisory board along with state-by-state legal teams in cooperation with Congressional delegations and state delegations, said Brian Smoot, the trusts executive director and a former DCCC political director. And we will be undertaking legal research and drafting strategic memos for each state.
Foundation for the Future, a 527 organized in July 2006, will continue to lead the analytical component of redistricting for the Democrats. The coalition, which includes the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees, the National Committee for an Effective Congress and other Democratic groups, seeks to provide Democratic caucuses in each state with data, mapmaking software and demographic projections.
The Democratic National Committee convenes regular meetings with the key players in the party to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Democrats have left the analytical work to Foundation for the Future and the legal work to the redistricting trust. MAPS is seeking to fill both roles on the Republican side and provide a new home for the stable of Republican operatives who traditionally work on redistricting through the RNC.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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