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Top 10 Power Brokers in Redistricting

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Rep. Lynn Westmoreland is the point person for House Republicans on redistricting, but he's also considered the Member with the greatest influence over the redrawing of lines in his home state.

Moreover, when it comes to redistricting, the most influential Members in the delegation are that way because they hold safe districts — and therefore have nothing to lose in discussions compared with their colleagues in competitive seats.

Accordingly, this list was created with the idea that Members can influence the redistricting process back home in several ways and with a focus on the states that have a lot of seats at risk of changing parties this cycle.

California: Rep. Mike Thompson (D)

Seat change: 0

For decades, California Democrats have wielded incredible control over redistricting because of their cozy relationships with the state Legislature, even hiring Rep. Howard Berman’s brother, consultant Michael Berman, to help them keep their seats. That’s about to change now that the new 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission has taken over the process — and the results have the potential to be extremely messy. While Members theoretically are now helpless in influencing the process, someone is going to have to clean up the mess among colleagues after the map is done. Enter Thompson, who is charged with managing redistricting for the House Democratic Caucus. Nowhere is that task more complicated and complex than in his home state, where Democrats must hold their advantage in the Congressional delegation to make up for other anticipated losses around the country — even as Democratic-held areas in Los Angeles are losing population and some of the party’s recently won House seats in the Bay Area have the potential to be drastically altered.

Florida: Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R)

Seat change: +2

With two new seats at stake, Florida is the second-biggest redistricting prize in the country for Republicans, who control the governor’s mansion and both legislative chambers. The passage of the Fair Districts Florida ballot initiative last year may threaten to mess with local lawmakers’ plans to draw several new seats for Republicans in 2012 by requiring lawmakers to draw “compact” districts. Nonetheless, Republicans still have more power in drawing the new lines than anyone besides the courts — and Diaz-Balart, a veteran of the redistricting process, has emerged as a clear leader in the delegation on this issue. Diaz-Balart had a heavy hand in drawing South Florida districts at the end of his 14-year run as a state lawmaker. And given his Hispanic background, his connections to Florida’s fastest-growing ethnic community will be key in finding good GOP candidates to run in new majority-Hispanic districts. Finally, he has already proved he’s willing to fight: Diaz-Balart, along with Rep. Corrine Brown (D), filed a lawsuit last year in federal court to protest the state’s new Fair Districts Florida redistricting law.

Georgia: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R)

Seat change: +1
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