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Between the Lines: Redistricting Halftime Show

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It’s believed that Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle’s upstate New York district is on the chopping block. But that may not be the case if the new map is drawn by a three-judge panel.

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As House Members departed for August recess this week, mapmakers were close to completing almost 40 percent of the Congressional maps getting redrawn this cycle.

So far, the score is tied. Expected Democratic gains produced by the Illinois and California redraws were off set by Republican-drawn maps in North Carolina and Texas.

But the ball game is far from over. The boundaries of at least 226 House seats are still up for grabs. Here are the top five unanswered redistricting questions heading into the second half of the game:

1. Who will get the boot in the Ohio delegation?

The Buckeye State map is perhaps the best-kept redistricting secret of the cycle. Ohio will lose two House seats next year, at least one of which will likely be Rep. Dennis Kucinichís (D) Cleveland-area district.

But what about the other House seat? Until recently, Republicans privately hinted two GOP freshmen would face off in a single, east-central Ohio district.

But that might not be the case anymore. Speaker John Boehner (R) was clearly unamused with Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordanís willingness to publicly disparage his debt ceiling bill last week. In the midst of the GOP infighting, the Columbus Dispatch reported Jordanís district might be on the chopping block.

Ohio Republicans, including the Speaker, denied the report. But itís worth noting that Jordan was one of 66 Republicans to vote against leadership on the final debt ceiling deal earlier this week.

2. Will federal courts accept the Texas map?

Texas has four new House seats next year, and Republicans could pick up that same number of federal courts approve their aggressive map for preclearance.

Democrats already filed several lawsuits protesting the Texas map, charging insufficient minority representation. But either the Justice Department or the District of Columbiaís federal courts will make the final call on the Texas map.

If the courts deny preclearance, federal judges will likely redraw the map for 2012.

Republicans fear a court-drawn map because itís completely unpredictable ó and because history shows they should be scared. A court-drawn map benefited Democrats in 2001 and prompted the controversial redraw led by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) in 2003.

3. Will a divided New York Legislature agree on a map?

A Democratic state House, a Republican state Senate and a Democratic governor make for a messy map-drawing process. Thatís the scenario in New York, which will lose two House seats this cycle.

Thereís already some consensus where lawmakers might cut those two seats. Specifically, former Rep. Anthony Weinerís (D) New York City seat and freshman Rep. Ann Marie Buerkleís (R) upstate seat are on the chopping block.

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