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House Republicans have tasked Westmoreland with overseeing redistricting for their entire caucus for good reason. Westmoreland has extensive experience with mapmaking in his home state, which redrew the Congressional boundaries twice in the past decade. At least three seats are at stake for Republicans, who will likely attempt to draw a safe GOP seat in the new 14th district, shore up GOP margins in the district of freshman Rep. Austin Scott (R) and move more Republicans into Democratic Rep. John Barrow’s competitive district. No one in the Georgia delegation has relationships with the in-state redistricting players like Westmoreland. He is a former state House Minority Leader and is close with Gov. Nathan Deal (R), his former House colleague whom he endorsed early in a crowded GOP primary last year. As governor, Deal will have veto power over the final map submitted to the Justice Department for approval. What’s more, former Westmoreland aide Bryan Tyson has been hired by the state Legislature and will be heavily involved in drawing the new maps. Tyson was also very involved in the 2005 GOP-led redrawing of Congressional boundaries.
He doesn’t have the highest-profile personality in the delegation, but make no mistake: Costello is leading the charge over how to redraw the lines in one of the few states where Democrats control the redistricting process. After losing four seats to Republicans last cycle, Democrats will attempt to win three to five back through mapmaking. Costello is the dean of the state’s delegation, but he has something even bigger in his corner: a good relationship with state Speaker Michael Madigan, who has nearly infinite control over Springfield lawmakers charged with making the new maps. Costello is also a team player, willing to give up parts of heavily Democratic districts to help his colleagues. One Illinois Democratic aide dubbed him the delegation’s redistricting “quarterback.” In fact, his low-key nature likely plays in his favor. In a delegation with big personalities such as Democratic Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr., Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez, it helps to have a mellow Member such as Costello brokering the final deal.