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Last year, Republicans captured 20 legislative chambers nationwide in part because of the $30 million raised and spent by the Republican State Leadership Committee. The wins were critical because in most states the legislature leads the re-drawing of the Congressional lines.
The GOP’s midterm success “relieved a lot of pressure” according to one GOP source. “We decreased our legal fees tremendously.”
By controlling more legislative chambers, Republicans are on the inside controlling the map-drawing process instead of being on the outside and having to challenge the maps in court once they are drawn.
“The real money is for lawsuits,” one GOP strategist said about the biggest need for money in redistricting. “And they need more money than we do.”
Republicans said they believe that when the protracted legal fight begins, donors will step up in states where there is need, such as Illinois, Arkansas, California and possibly West Virginia and Missouri, where the party doesn’t control the process. In other states such as North Carolina, the Democratic attorney general will have to defend the GOP-drawn map as the state’s top lawyer if Democrats challenge the map in court.
So instead of MAPS coordinating the legal effort, each state will likely prepare its own legal strategy.
There is some talk of another outside group emerging to handle some of the analytical work that MAPS was supposed to cover, but its formation doesn’t appear to be imminent. GOP redistricting veterans believe there is a need to bring together past election and demographic data in a way that easily merges with the census data once it becomes available, in order to draw maps that accurately project voting trends over the next decade.
For now, and over the past year, the RNC (including Republicans’ top man on redistricting, Tom Hofeller) has been holding weekly conference calls, and various GOP vendors have been doing the heavy lifting on getting the data ready.
There is hope in the GOP redistricting ranks that once party delegates elect a new chairman, confidence will be restored in the RNC as Michael Steele’s reign comes to an end, and donors will give the committee a boost.