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Some House Members will be facing a tough choice later this cycle once their states’ new Congressional maps are finished: For them, it’s either up or out.
Depending on how the boundaries are redrawn in their respective House districts, running for statewide office might be a better option than trying to run for re-election.
It’s a particularly vital interest for Republicans, who are largely playing offense this cycle with 23 Senate seats held by Democrats on the ballot.
The GOP is still seeking top candidate recruits in Washington, West Virginia, Michigan and Pennsylvania — states that are all expected to finish their Congressional maps late in the game.
However, it’s also a consideration for Democrats, who are still looking for a top-tier challenger to Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).
“The House delegation is one of the first places recruiters go for a number of reasons. A lot of Members in the House don’t pursue a Senate run until redistricting, and then they’re faced with not seeking re-election, challenging another incumbent or pursuing a Senate seat that may be available,” said Chris LaCivita, a Republican consultant who worked at the National Republican Senatorial Committee last cycle and after the last redistricting process in 2002.
But while Donnelly and Akin had the luxury of Congressional maps completed early in the cycle, their colleagues might not be so lucky. Many states are not required to finish their maps until late this year or even early next year — including key states such as Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington.
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), a frequently mentioned candidate for statewide office, seemed more interested in staying put on the Ways and Means Committee than running statewide next year. But the matter is largely out of Reichert’s hands because a bipartisan redistricting committee will redraw the lines in his state, which will get one new House seat this cycle.
“I’m hearing rumors that they’re trying to have four strong ‘D’ districts and 4 strong ‘Rs,’ and then two that are competitive districts,” Reichert said in an interview with Roll Call last week. “Whatever happens, happens, is kind of my attitude.”
In Pennsylvania, Republican Reps. Jim Gerlach and Charlie Dent have all but ruled out a bid against Sen. Bob Casey (D). In the small chance that redistricting significantly changes their House districts, either would be an attractive recruit to run for Senate.
Arizona, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan and New York have no official due date for finishing their Congressional maps — other than they must be completed before the 2012 cycle.