Some background, for those who need it: Texas, thanks to explosive growth over the last ten years, picked up four Congressional Districts after the last Census. The Democrats, who are (naturally enough, I suppose) angry that this growth has been at the expense of their own caucus (the 2010 Census generally demonstrated that a lot of people have been voting with their feet on this entire Red State/Blue State paradigm), immediately threw the entire thing into the courts for alleged Voting Rights Act violations. A San Antonio court threw out the old maps, and put in redrawn ones that just happened to heavily favor the Democrats; and then the Supreme Court reached down from DC and mightily spanked the San Antonio court for that (although a 9-0 reversal is perversely impressive).
OK, here’s the background: NY is losing two seats in Congress, thanks to the 2010 Census. Well, more accurately, thanks to the urban blue model of governance that has had folks fleeing those urban areas in droves – but never mind that now. As has been noted previously, the New York legislature is having a devil of a time coming up with a map that backstabs the right people and groups, which is why the courts have stepped in and may take over the process of drawing the actual maps. Given that the Republican Senate and the Democratic Assembly and whatever-gets-me-a-Presidential-nomination Governor Andrew Cuomo are currently engaged in a three-sided brawl on the subject, this may actually even happen.
What makes this interesting is a report from earlier in the month that one potential plan to handle the downstate/upstate bloodletting – OK, let me explain that. The upstate districts in NY are where the GOP is strongest; the downstate districts are dominated by Democrats. The Democrats aren’t really in a position to eliminate two Republican-held seats, so the general assumption has been that one upstate GOP legislator and one downstate Democratic one will get worked over by this deal.
How that would work is complicated by New York’s convoluted recent electoral history. Right now there are eight Republicans and twenty-one Democrats in the NY delegation. Of the Republicans, only one – Bob Turner, in Anthony Weiner’s old seat – is a really good pickup opportunity; the rest are either freshmen who took back established Republican seats, or Pete King (and thus probably invulnerable). Diluting Hinchley – which is what the courts may want to do – probably won’t kill the re-election chances of anybody on the GOP side. On the other hand, Democrats William Owens and Kathy Hochul are in trouble in the general election: the first one is in office because the Republicans/Conservatives decided to split their strength for two consecutive contests; and the second one is in office because Chris Lee tried to cheat on his wife using Craigslist. Shorter version: Hinchley’s retirement makes keeping Turner’s downstate seat intact a good thing for the Democratic party, because the GOP probably won’t sit still for eliminating two Republican-held seats AND NY Democrats will need something to offset two possible (and plausible) losses this fall.
Believe me, trying to keep this stuff straight in my own head is difficult; I’m probably getting at least four critical details quite wrong.
So, we’re having ourselves a situation in New York with redistricting. The basics: New York, like many blue states that have been blue states for a while, has seen its population ratio to the rest of the country drop sufficiently that it’s losing two Congressional Districts this cycle. So they’re all trying to figure out how to redraw the map for an optimal destroy-your-enemies approach:
New York Democrats want to mess over New York Republicans. The New York GOP is defending several federal Congressional seats (six of the seven GOP-held seats are effectively freshmen) and its Senate majority; and New York Democrats are eager to try to winnow those numbers down. If they can figure out how to do it without eliminating a downstate district. Or two, frankly.
New York Republicans, on the other hand, are digging in their heels until they get at least their state Senate majority preserved (note that there is precious little loyalty, on either side, between the state and national parties).
And then there’s Governor Andrew Cuomo. He’s a Democrat… which means that he’s usually at war slightly more often with the Republican-controlled Senate than he is with the Democratic-controlled Assembly. He’s also currently stuck with a veto threat that, if not followed, will hurt his chances for later higher office. But if Cuomo does veto whatever devil’s bargain the New York legislature comes up with, then… Bad Things Happen.
Ted Ctuz is an old friend of RedState, of course: so we made sure to spend a couple of minutes talking about the race, how the ongoing redistricting dispute in Texas is making everybody’s elections difficult, and about CPAC generally. And if you’re wondering why a Texas federal Senate race would be affected by redistricting, it’s because nobody really wants to have three primary dates this year. Anyway, we chatted for a bit:
This was not an easy decision. However, I am confident that it is the right decision. It is a decision I have weighed heavily over the past few months. I have always said family comes first, and I never intended to be a career politician. I am ready to refocus my priorities and spend more time at home with my wife Nikol and two young children.
I got my new election card in the mail… and on the notice, there it was: an indication that my district has been changed, thanks to Maryland’s horrifically gerrymandered new maps. WHICH IS GREAT. I have no idea what Dutch Ruppersberger’s district’s new partisan numbers are, but they were D+7 last time; and Elijah Cummings’ (my pre-redistricting Congressman) was D+25. There’s no chance at all that Ruppersberger did that well out of the process.
So: while the Democrats may have screwed over most of their constituents – particularly minority ones, who really should haven’t have had Montgomery County sliced up the way that it was* – at least I’m doing better out of the deal.
And I wish that I had been there to see both the Democrats and the three-person judicial panel bug their eyes out at Texas’s lawyer when he calmly pointed out that any hypothetical screwing over of minority Democrats when it came to redistricting took place not because they were minorities, but because they were Democrats. I don’t know if that argument’s going to actually fly with the courts, but it must have at least rocked them back on their heels to have somebody simply admit that, yes, the Republicans dominate Texas right now, the Democrats don’t, and these facts have consequences.
As to how this will all play out… well, the USSC’s instruction to the San Antonio court trying to come up with interim maps still holds: show more deference to the state legislature’s maps. Despite the fact that they’re probably going to be rejected anyway; and the deadline for new maps is going to be February 6th, on pain of delaying the primaries yet again. I’m starting to understand why Michael Williams is assuming that there won’t be a primary in April…
Sorry about the sound quality: we’re in the middle of a solar storm today, remember? At any rate, I talked this afternoon with Michael Williams, who is running in TX-25, assuming of course that the courts d0n’t decide to fold up the new Congressional maps for Texas into a variety of paper airplanes and fly them out of the window. The short version is: the maps are being contested, a lower court stepped in to get something up and running, the Supreme Court stepped in to smack down said lower court, and now people are kind of worried that the primaries are going to be delayed yet again. As you might have guessed, we talked a bit on the redistricting controversy down there; Michael even took the time to gently correct me on a couple of things that I was getting wrong…
Details here and here: the short version is that the USSC decided that a lower court erred because it had, to quote the New York Times, “not paid enough deference to the Legislature’s choices and had improperly substituted its own values for those of elected officials.” The underlying issue is that there is an ongoing dispute over how the new Texas federal Congressional map should be drawn; Texas got four more seats in the latest round of redistricting, and the beleaguered Democratic minority in Texas has been using Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as their excuse to tie the entire process up in legalistic knots. As primaries are, well, looming at this point, the aforementioned lower court (in San Antonio) had put together an interim map that more or less ignored the elected legislature’s wishes in this matter; and the Supreme Court just unanimously smacked them down for it.
This does not mean that the original Texas legislature’s maps will be used; that’s up to the currently Democratic-controlled Justice department, or else an ostensibly impartial three-judge tribunal in DC. What it does do is reaffirm the principle that lower courts should take into account the original wishes of the legislature in emergency situations – and with an effective deadline of February 1st, this qualifies as an emergency situation – such as these. In other words, the courts may still create interim maps (which will apply for at least the 2012 election cycle) while the final maps are being resolved; what they can not do is ignore the original wishes of the legislature, to the extent that the San Antonio court did. Continue reading Supreme Court smacks lower courts in TX redistricting case.
Come, I will conceal nothing from you: the Ricky Gill campaign is busily bringing up the odd detail that his likely opponent for CA-09 – Rep. Jerry McNerney, who was essentially accused by ProPublica last month of having that district redrawn for his benefit – has not yet moved into CA-09. Given that McNerney’s been putting this move off since at least last July, I think that this is a perfectly reasonable observation of the Ricky Gill campaign to make. I understand that redistricting can make for temporary confusion and delay until things straighten out again, but at this point failing to find a new place to live in the district that you want to represents a certain lack of, ah, drive*.
*We will now pause while Democrats search frantically for any Republican legislator from the last thirty years who did not instantly relocate his or her primary residence because of redistricting. Alas for them, it’s not really unlikely that any hypothetical GOP legislator had gone through the trouble of (allegedly) designing their district first. In other words: shenanigans are one thing, but sloppy, ill-planned shenanigans? That’s kind of… embarrassing, no?