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Between the Lines: Maryland Legislature Passes Map Endangering Bartlett

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Utah Republicans believe they have a good chance to take the seat held by Rep. Jim Matheson (D).

Both chambers of Maryland's Democratic-controlled Legislature have passed Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Congressional redistricting map, which puts Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R) in a difficult spot.

Bartlett said Wednesday he will run for an 11th term in the redrawn 6th district. The 85-year-old will face his toughest race in years.

“It creates a competitive 6th district. I’m going to be talking with a number of folks over the next couple of days, and there’s a high likelihood that I’m going to be throwing my hat in the ring for Congress,” state Sen. Robert Garagiola (D) told Roll Call on Wednesday. “Within a matter of days, I’ll make a decision on it.”

The state Senate will need to approve technical changes made by the House of Delegates, and then O’Malley, a Democrat, is expected to sign it into law.

Over the past month, the map has been a highly contentious topic. The changes made from the current lines deeply angered Republicans and some minorities. Rep. Donna Edwards (D), the map’s highest-profile critic on the left, had complained about lack of minority representation in suburban Montgomery County. She said Wednesday that while she feels the map “is not the best approach for minority voters or for all Marylanders,” the process “has run its course.”

OHIO: Ballot Measure Complicates Election

State Republicans are scrambling to derail a Democratic effort to overturn the new  GOP-friendly Congressional map.

Democrats have already begun collecting signatures for a 2012 ballot measure that would overturn the map. The state Supreme Court ruled last week on a technical matter to allow the ballot measure to move forward, and Republicans are examining their options.

If Democrats get enough valid signatures for the ballot measure, Members would not be able to run under the new lines signed by Gov. John Kasich (R). It remains unclear under which lines they would run.

A Republican with a deep knowledge of Ohio politics told Roll Call that a referendum would create “a great deal of chaos” but was guardedly optimistic that there is a way forward for the GOP.

“There are multiple things under way to try and resolve it,” the source said. “The best option on the table” would be a vote on a slightly tweaked new map that would be part of an emergency measure. But the GOP would need to win some Democratic votes in the state House for that plan to work, the source said. Emergency measures require a two-thirds majority in both the state House and state Senate to pass. Republicans control 23 of the 33 seats in the state Senate.

Ohio, which has a House delegation of 13 Republicans and five Democrats, lost two seats in reapportionment. The new map could lead to a delegation of 12 Republicans and four Democrats. Ohio voters, through a referendum, can override any law. The exceptions are emergency measures, tax levies and appropriations, which go into effect as soon as they are signed by the governor.

“We are asking that Republicans sit down with Democratic leaders and work out a compromise. The maps that they rushed through were unfair and gerrymandered, and we believe that in order for Ohioans to be fairly represented in Congress, we need a new map,” Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Seth Bringman told Roll Call. “If fair maps are enacted, then Democrats will not move forward with the referendum.”

The ballot measure may also change candidate filing deadlines. The deadline for Democrats to gather the requisite signatures for the referendum is Dec. 26, more than two weeks after the current filing deadline for candidates.

A spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said that some of these issues will need to be addressed by the Legislature.

UTAH: GOP Can Pick Up Two Seats Under New Map

Republicans believe they have a realistic chance of winning all four House districts next year.

After picking up a district in reapportionment, the GOP-controlled legislature passed a redistricting plan Monday that gives the party an opportunity to pick up Rep. Jim Matheson’s (D) 2nd district and the newly added 4th district.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert is expected to sign off on the map.

As the Salt Lake Tribune reported, Matheson is so far keeping his options open about which district he would run in. Three of them dip into Salt Lake County, which prompted the map’s nickname, the “pizza slice” plan. Matheson also is considering running statewide, challenging either Herbert or Sen. Orrin Hatch (R).

The state’s other two incumbents, GOP Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Rob Bishop, saw their districts solidified. Chaffetz’s home was even drawn into his 3rd district for the first time.

IDAHO: Single Line Redrawn, Changes Little

The line separating the state’s two districts was moved west but will remain within Ada County in a map approved Monday by the state’s six-member, bipartisan, nonlegislator redistricting commission.

Neither incumbent will be affected much by the new line, with both districts continuing to favor Republicans.

The Idaho Statesman reported that the new map, which is not yet final, puts nearly all of Boise in Rep. Mike Simpson’s (R) 2nd district. Ada County still remains almost exactly split in two between the 2nd and Rep. Raul Labrador’s (R) 1st district.

The line will now run down Cloverdale Road. It’s three miles west of Cole Road, which the existing line followed.

COLORADO: Tipton Testifies in Redistricting Trial

In what could be the final week of the trial to sort out the new map, freshman Rep. Scott Tipton (R) testified Monday in an effort to keep his district intact. He went so far as calling his 3rd district one “that seems to work,” according to the Associated Press.

Tipton also stressed the current district’s competitive makeup in his testimony. Tipton defeated incumbent Rep. John Salazar (D) in 2010 by a 4-point margin.

The process has been relegated to the courts because the Legislature was gridlocked on the issue and unable to pass a map during its session in May.

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