Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Democrats Forced to Face Issue of Race

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Remapping in Southern California pits Reps. Janice Hahn (above right) and Laura Richardson against each other in the new minority-opportunity 44th district, which was created by an independent redistricting commission.

“What you’re seeing, I think, is certainly the case of city districts needing to go out in the suburbs to get more population,” Kimball Brace, a Democratic redistricting expert, said in a phone interview. “And it’s likely that you’ve got African-Americans in the city needing to be put out further.”

That’s the case in Michigan’s redrawn 14th district in greater Detroit. The city lost 25 percent of its population during the past decade.

Michigan Republicans dismantled Rep. Gary Peters’ (D) current district, and he opted to run against fellow Democratic Rep. Hansen Clarke, a CBC member.

Clarke won his seat in Congress last year by defeating then-Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, a former CBC chairwoman, in the Democratic primary.

Clarke and Peters appear congenial about their upcoming contest. Just off the House floor Friday, Peters put his arm around Clarke, who affectionately referred to his white opponent as “brother Peters.”

But a race in Southern California pitting a white Member against a member of the CBC isn’t shaping up to be as friendly. Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson, a member of the CBC, faces fellow Rep. Janice Hahn and Assemblyman Isadore Hall in the new 44th district Democratic primary. An independent redistricting commission redrew the district as a
minority-opportunity district — almost 50 percent of the citizen voting-age population is Latino.

Richardson pointed out that the independent redistricting commission designed the district as an opportunity for minorities like herself.

“I think when you have a Section 2 Voting Rights district, it gives the electorate an opportunity to have someone who understands that,” Richardson said. “You can’t fake it and make it living the life that I’ve had to lead. Neither can you fake it and make it what my constituents have had to do.”

Missouri Democrats could also see a race between a white Member and black Member, although party strategists have made it known they want to avoid the contest.

A Republican-drawn map in that state left Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) without many good options to re-election. Carnahan, who is white, can run for the open GOP-leaning 2nd district or challenge Rep. William Lacy Clay (D) in the urban 1st district.

Clay, a former CBC chairman, will presumably have the support of that organization — and maybe even the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC has indicated it will help Carnahan if he runs in the 2nd district.

But if Carnahan challenges Clay, the DCCC will be in a tricky position.

“In every case, the DCCC policy has been to be agnostic on Member-to-Member primaries,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said Friday in a brief interview.

During the last round of redistricting a decade ago, 16 Members were pitted against each other in eight districts. All of them were white.

“We’re at a different political makeup in the country,” Cleaver said. “We’re at a different political makeup in Congress. We didn’t have 43 Members of the Congressional Black Caucus [in 2002].”

But Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), the CBC’s Redistricting Task Force co-chairwoman, saw it differently. She blamed Republican state legislators around the country for targeting their districts.

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