The first draft of the state Legislature’s redrawn Congressional map was pretty bad for vulnerable Blue Dog Democrats in the Tar Heel State.
The second and likely final draft, released earlier this week, proved to be even worse.
But it was also unhappy news for some Republicans who had already declared their candidacies in districts that are now likely to look different.
Tea-party-affiliated businessman Nathan Tabor (R), who had announced he was running in the 13th district against Rep. Brad Miller (D), said the new district lines — which moved the 13th to another part of the state — meant he would hold off on a campaign. Tabor said he knew what his decision would be “30 seconds after seeing” the new map.
“I’m not going to drive an hour and a half to get inside the district to run against Brad Miller,” Tabor said.
But the changes also opened up opportunities for other ambitious Republicans. State Sen. David Rouzer, a former aide to the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R), will run in the newly open 7th district, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.
The new map draws the home of Rep. Mike McIntyre (D), who currently represents the 7th district, into the 8th district. Rouzer will face former Marine Ilario Pantano in the Republican primary. Notably, Pantano was not included in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns program that assists top challengers.
Texas Officials Bypass Justice, Head Straight to Court
Lone Star State officials sidestepped the Justice Department on Tuesday by directly submitting their new Congressional map to the District of Columbia’s federal court for pre-clearance.
Either the Justice Department or a federal three-judge panel must approve Texas’ new map before it is implemented to make sure the redrawn districts adhere to the Voting Rights Act.
The state also submitted a copy to the Justice Department in case the Civil Rights Division pre-clears the map before the courts rule on it. That’s what happened earlier this year with the state legislative maps from Virginia and Louisiana, according to Texas Republican Party spokesman Chris Elam.
“Texas is following the same course as Virginia and Louisiana, who received Justice Department pre-clearance and saw those court cases dropped,” Elam said. “If Texas receives similar pre-clearance from the Justice Department, our case will similarly be dropped.”
But Texas’ new Congressional map is one of the most controversial in the country, and most state insiders expect the courts to make the final call.
Members Not Hopeful Virginia Stalemate Will End Soon
Expectations are low for a Congressional redistricting deal in Virginia, where legislative negotiators are at a stalemate over competing plans from the state House and Senate.
“I don’t think there’s anything substantive happening,” state Sen. Don McEachin (D) said. “I doubt if anything is going to happen before Election Day .”
With state elections this November, legislative lines had to be agreed upon much earlier. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed those maps into law April 29, but there has been little traction on the Congressional boundaries.
The GOP-led state House’s plan, also known as the incumbent-protection plan, would further solidify the 8-3 Republican/Democratic split among the 11 districts.
The Democratic-led state Senate plan makes more districts competitive. Rep. Bobby Scott’s (D) 3rd district would lose African-American voters to Rep. Randy Forbes’s (R) 4th district, making both minority-influenced districts. The Charlottesville-based 5th district would be drawn in a way that former Rep. Tom Perriello (D) would have won it if the lines were in place last cycle.
“I assumed that the incumbent retention plan would have been accepted by now, but the longer we go, the more likely it is that the judicial system, the courts, will consider it,” Rep. Jim Moran (D) told Roll Call. “And then it’s anybody’s guess what happens.”
The uncertainty of court-controlled map-drawing — and the possibility that it hurts incumbents from both parties — could lead to a deal being brokered, but the two sides are still far apart. Moran said he and other Democratic Members have consulted with Democratic state Senate leaders about the map.
“I was with them over the weekend. But they know the consequences,” Moran said. “[Rep.] Gerry Connolly probably has the most at stake, and he’s been talking with them as well. They’ve taken care of themselves, so Congress is kind of a second priority to their own careers. And I don’t blame them for that, that’s understandable.”
Connolly, whose Northern Virginia district is more competitive than those of Moran and Scott, said he’s staying out of the debate.
“At the end of the day, this is the role and the prerogative of the General Assembly,” Connolly said. “I don’t presume to tell my colleagues in Richmond what they need to be doing. Now this is up to them.”
Prep Begins for Special Redraw Session in Georgia
Legislators on the redistricting committees in the state House and Senate were slated to meet Wednesday to “establish principles and guidelines for the process,” according to the Associated Press.
Public hearings for redistricting were recently completed, and Republican Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to call the Legislature into a special session to complete the decennial process on Aug. 15.
Reapportionment gave Georgia another seat. Republicans in the state said it is likely to be anchored in Hall County, the home of the governor and lieutenant governor.
Now It’s Time to Hear From the People in Minnesota
A court-appointed panel in charge of redistricting said Monday that it would hold a series of hearings around the North Star State in October to solicit public input on the decennial process.
Redistricting in Minnesota is expected to be complete in the first few months of 2012.
Shira Toeplitz and Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report.