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Entries in Redistricting (7)

Wednesday
Aug082012

Lacy Clay Jr. Ousts Russ Carnahan in St. Louis Redistricting Battle

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- Rep. Lacy Clay, Jr. won the primary fight over St. Louis on Tuesday, emerging without much of a scar from the political ring of his newly-merged district.

Clay defeated neighboring Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan in a battle between two prominent political family names in the Show Me State.

In 2001, Clay took over the principal St. Louis City congressional district from his retiring father and Missouri’s first African-American representative, Bill Clay, Sr.  Carnahan, the son of former Gov. Mel Carnahan and former Sen. Jean Carnahan, who filled her late husband’s seat when he defeated John Aschcroft posthumously after his death in a plane crash weeks before the 2000 election, has represented South St. Louis and surrounding areas since 2005.

Thanks to redistricting and Missouri’s loss of a House seat following the 2010 Census, the two were thrust into a fight for the newly conglomerated district encompassing the heart of St. Louis’ metro area, mostly comprised of Clay’s present turf.

The campaign saw its share of racial dynamics and negative campaigning.  Clay, who is black, represents predominantly black North St. Louis; Carnahan, who is white, represents predominantly white South St. Louis.

In mailers, Carnahan accused Clay of ties to the rent-to-own industry.  On TV, Clay accused Carnahan of voting against Medicare.  Both courted black voters with radio ads featuring funk or hip-hop/Afrobeat music.  Clay sent “sound trucks” through the city blaring his campaign song, according to a campaign consultant.

In the end, Carnahan wasn’t much of a threat: With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Clay led 63 percent to 23 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug072012

Political Scions Face Off in St. Louis Redistricting Matchup

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- On Tuesday, St. Louis will be a re-election Thunderdome for two political scions.  Two men will enter; one man will leave.

Democratic Reps. Russ Carnahan and Lacy Clay, Jr. will square off for the whole of the city, which they’ve shared in Congress for almost a decade, in a primary contest foisted upon them by 2012′s congressional redistricting -- a process that has already pitted Democrat against Democrat in a handful of districts around the country.

The contest is replete with racial dynamics (including two fund-driven radio ads), negative politicking and two of Missouri’s biggest political family names.

Carnahan, the grandson of Rep. Albert Carnahan, is the son of former Gov. Mel Carnahan and former Sen. Jean Carnahan, who filled her late husband’s senate seat when he posthumously defeated Republican John Aschcroft after dying in a plane crash weeks before the election.  Since 2005, Russ Carnahan has represented a district that includes the southern half of St. Louis and extends into rural areas along the Mississippi.

Clay is the son of former Rep. Bill Clay, Sr., Missouri’s first African American representative, who served in Congress from 1969-2001.  Since 2001, William Lacy Clay, Jr. has represented his father’s district, which includes North St. Louis and much of the northern metro area.

Now, the two are vying in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for Missouri’s newly combined First District, encompassing mostly Clay’s territory, with Carnahan’s South St. Louis neighborhoods and a few southern suburbs thrown in.  Gone are the rural and exurban stretches.

Under the new 2012 map, black and white St. Louis will now share a representative in Congress.

Carnahan, who is white, has represented more predominantly white South St. Louis, while Clay has represented predominantly black North St. Louis. Since 2005, they’ve shared representation of St. Louis along rough demographic lines that have held for decades.

Carnahan is courting Clay’s African American base with a minute-long radio ad that samples William DeVaugh’s “Be Thankful for What You’ve Got” and a deep-voiced narrator who says, “For Russ, fighting for our families has never been about who’s black or who’s white.  He’s all about what’s wrong and what’s right.”

The ad is running on St. Louis’ urban stations, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.  Carnahan has also blanketed the city with mailers that accuse Clay of ties to the Rent-to-Own industry.

Clay, for his part, has advertised his ”backbone” against the “hatin’ Tea Party” over turntable scratches, a hip-hop/Afrobeat line, and a chorus of “La-cy Claaay!” in a radio ad featuring the voices of his father and former Olympian and East St. Louisan Jackie Joyner Kersee.

Clay’s campaign has sent trucks through St. Louis neighborhoods blaring a two-and-a-half-minute version of the ad, according to a Clay consultant.  ABC News verified that over the weekend, a white sedan with Clay decals rolled through St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood, blasting music with its windows down.

The two congressmen are reliable Democratic votes, although Clay is more liberal.  In National Journal’s latest vote rankings, Carnahan clocked a liberal rating of 70.5, while Clay came in at 93.3.

Whoever wins will almost certainly represent the heavily Democratic city in next year’s Congress.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb062012

Glimmer of Hope in Texas Redistricting Battle Could Preserve April Primary

Hemera/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) -- There was a glimmer of hope Monday for a resolution in the long and tangled battle over Texas’ redistricting maps, when state Attorney General Greg Abbott and members of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund agreed to a set of interim congressional maps.

The rare moment of consensus between the state and the Latino leadership organizations comes just in time to possibly preserve the Lone Star State’s April primary date, which was originally scheduled for Super Tuesday on March 6 but was moved back a month because of the redistricting fight.

As the second-largest state, Texas is fighting to preserve its relevance in a GOP primary race that is beginning to be dominated by Mitt Romney. And while Texas pushes to stay in the heat of the battle, so too is GOP candidate Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich vowed Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation that his campaign would push on through Super Tuesday and said that after Texas voters take to the polls, his goal is to be “about tied in delegates” with Romney.

But the Texas redistricting battle is far from over and thus the state’s primary date is far from certain. Some minority groups still oppose the state’s newest compromise maps and the lingering disagreements may force the Texas primary into late May or June.

MALDEF, which represents Texas’ Latino leadership organizations in the redistricting lawsuit, issued a statement Monday saying it was “amenable” to the new maps and would not challenge them.

“While neither plan is perfect, the Task Force feels it is time to move forward with Texas primaries and let the voters decide the outcome under a legally valid map that protects all existing minority opportunity districts … [and] complies with the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution,” the statement said.

But Trey Martinez Fischer, chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, which represents Texas’ Latino elected officials, said the newest maps “are a beginning point, not an end.”

“The Attorney General presents an illusion of an inclusive map; the reality is that it falls short of recognizing minority growth in Texas,” Martinez Fischer said in a statement posted to the group’s Facebook page. “While all the parties support a primary as soon as possible, we want to ensure that Texans have fair and legal redistricting maps.”

Abbott said in a statement Monday that the newest maps “incorporate reasonable requests” from opposing parties “without compromising the will of the Texas Legislature” and make changes “only where necessary” to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The original maps, drawn by the Republican-controlled state legislature last summer, were immediately challenged by a cohort of Latino advocacy groups which claimed the maps illegally diluted Hispanics’ voting power.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in January that the legislature’s maps violated the Voting Rights Act and sent the maps back to the San Antonio court where a compromise is being hammered out.

Texas gained four new congressional seats following the 2010 Census -- more than any other state -- in large part because of the state’s booming Hispanic population, which accounted for 65 percent of Texas’ population growth over the past decade.

The San Antonio court will hear an additional round of arguments on the compromise proposals Feb. 15. If no consensus is reached then, the Texas primary will again be delayed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan102012

Supreme Court Hears Messy Texas Redistricting Case

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The congressional map is wreaking political havoc in Texas and on Monday the Supreme Court waded into the controversy, hearing arguments on who should decide where four new Texas congressional districts should be located.

The justices tried to float possible fixes to disputes relating to redistricting maps in the state, but acknowledged they were working under tight deadlines caused by the upcoming 2012 general election. The case has already caused officials to move the state’s primary.

At issue are two sets of redistricting maps drawn after new census numbers reflected that Texas’ population had exploded since the last census. Minorities account for the majority of the growth. Based on the population increase, Texas was awarded four additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

One set of maps was drawn up by the Republican dominated State legislature. Democrats and minority rights groups immediately criticized the maps arguing they didn’t reflect the growth of minority representation.

Because Texas is a state with a history of discrimination in voting, it is subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Acts and is required to get approval or “preclearance” from the Department of Justice or a federal court in Washington before the maps can be implemented.

While the preclearance process plays out in a federal court in Washington DC, a Texas court drew up another set of maps to be used on an interim basis for the next election.

Those court-drawn maps, that favor democrats, triggered Monday’s hearing at the high court. Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott charged they were improperly drawn up and asked the Supreme Court to take up the issue.

A few weeks ago, the Court agreed to hear the case on an expedited schedule and temporarily froze the maps.

Paul D. Clement, an attorney for Texas, told the Justices on Monday that the maps drawn up by the Texas court were “profoundly wrong.” He said the Texas court had improperly ordered sweeping changes to the legislative drawn maps and made controversial policy judgments. He said that the Texas court should have given more deference to the maps drawn up by the state legislature.

Clement argues that the Supreme Court should allow the maps drawn by the legislature-not the Texas Court-to be used on a temporary basis in the upcoming election while the preclearance procedure runs its course.

But minority advocacy groups, joined by the Obama administration, say that if the Supreme Court were to allow the use of legislature drawn map, before the preclearance process has played out, it would undermine Section 5′s mandate.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor seemed to agree with that argument.

“I don’t see,” she argued “how we can give deference to an enacted new map, if Section 5 says don’t give it effect until its been precleared … doesn’t that turn Section 5 on its head?”

As things stand now, there are no approved maps in Texas. The Justices grappled with how the Texas Court should have drawn up interim maps and what will happen next.

Lurking behind today’s case is a much larger issue regarding whether Section 5 should continue to be implemented almost 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was signed.

Conservatives argue that states should no longer be subject to preclearance restrictions so many years after discrimination occurred.

In court Monday when Jose Garza, representing minority advocacy groups tried to make the argument that there is “good reason” that Texas is covered by Section 5 , he was cut off by Chief Justice Roberts.

“The constitutionality of Voting Rights Act not at issue here, correct?” But election law experts argue it’s only a matter of time before the Supreme Court address that critical issue.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan072012

California Rep. Elton Gallegly to Retire

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly from California announced he will retire at the end of the year.

Gallegly, a Republican, has been elected into congress for 12 terms. He is the Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

The 67-year-old was not expected to win against fellow Republican Buck McKeon after a new congressional map was drawn by California's independent redistricting commission placing the two GOP members in the same district.
 
"Serving in Congress and representing my home for 25 years is the greatest experience I could have ever asked for," said Gallegly. "Working with our country’s leadership on a daily basis in striving to move toward a better, stronger and more vibrant America for more than two decades has been a dream come true. The decision to step aside at this time did not come lightly."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov182011

Arizona Court Sides with Dems in Redistricting

Hemera/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Democrats in Arizona are celebrating Friday after the state’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday to reinstate the head of Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission.

Republican state legislators, led by GOP Gov. Jan Brewer, voted to oust Chairwoman Colleen Mathis, an independent, earlier this month after Mathis voted with Democrats to approve a redistricting map that could strap at least one GOP House member with a more competitive re-election bid and give Democrats a clear shot at the state’s new district.

“Gov. Jan Brewer and her GOP accomplices in the state Senate attempted to usurp the redistricting process by illegally removing the independent redistricting chairwoman,” Michael Sargeant, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s executive director, said in a statement following the ruling. “Thankfully, this naked power grab ultimately met with failure as the Supreme Court overrode the Republicans’ actions.”

The governor’s office issued a statement Thursday night, calling the decision “deeply regrettable.” Brewer justified her decision to remove Mathis, saying she’d conducted too many meetings behind closed doors and was “disregarding mapping criteria seemingly at will.”

David Berman, a senior research fellow at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said the court’s decision dealt  a “devastating blow” to the governor. With Mathis reinstated, Berman said the commission is likely to approve a map “very quickly,” which would make the right-leaning state more competitive for Democrats.

Republicans currently hold a 5-3 majority of the state’s House seats. In the new map, under which Arizona gains one representative, Berman said the GOP is basically “guaranteed” four seats and has a “good shot” at three more. Under the “best of conditions,” he said, Democrats could pick up five of the state’s nine House districts.

Arizona is the latest example of Democrats coming out on top in states whose redistricting maps were pushed into the courts. In Colorado last week, a Denver district judge selected a Democrat-drawn map that could deal two Republican representatives tough re-election bids. Republicans may challenge the decision.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov082011

One Year Before Election, 19 States Still Without Final District Maps

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The 2012 election is now less than a year away, but the congressional battle lines have yet to be drawn in some states.

Nineteen states are still entrenched in redistricting battles, as Democrats and Republicans duke it out in state legislatures, independent commissions and state and federal courts for district maps that could give them an edge in the next decade’s elections.

But despite Republicans’ having control of most state legislatures after the 2010 elections, neither party is expected to pick up significantly more seats because of the newly-drawn district lines that are mandated every decade to reflect shifting populations in the Census.

“It’s really, you could say, surprising because almost two-thirds of state legislatures are controlled by Republicans, but so far it looks like a wash,” said Steve Bickerstaff, a redistricting expert and adjunct professor at the University of Texas Law School.

But both parties are still claiming victory when it comes to redistricting.

“Far from being blown out as the Republicans announced, we have exceeded expectations on redistricting,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Israel of New York said last week.

Republican State Leadership Committee consultant Tom Hofeller said the GOP could still come out on top as the final 40 percent of states finalize their maps.

Political parties have to toe a fine line when redrawing the district maps, Bickerstaff said. They can either create a few districts that are staunchly supportive, or a greater number of districts that lean less definitively in their favor.

He argued that redistricting is not as important as some people make it out to be because there are limits to how much influence one party can wield over the process.

At least four states’ maps are already caught up in court challenges, which is common during the redistricting process.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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