The most likely redistricting victims
By Aaron Blake,
We’re through the first big week of congressional redistricting, and everything has more or less gone according to plan.
In Indiana and Louisiana, Republicans did their best to push Reps. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Jeff Landry (R-La.) out, while a commission in Iowa did what commissions do and overhauled the map to a significant degree. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) is targeted for elimination on a proposed map in Missouri, and in Arkansas and Oklahoma, there were few changes for a pair of small delegations that were unlikely to change anyways.
So far, things have gone pretty much as expected. In fact, Donnelly, Landry and Carnahan have long been considered three of the most obvious sitting ducks when it comes to redistricting. Seeing them actually get the short end of the stick then isn’t terribly surprising.
The easy pickings are now done. From here, redistricting winners and losers get a little harder to game out.
For example, Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) was supposed to be the odd man out with Michigan losing a seat and Republicans drawing the lines, but that is somewhat less than a sure thing now. And several incumbents in California and Florida could have a real tough time under their states’ new redistricting rules, but picking out exactly which ones will fall victim is difficult at best and guesswork at worst.
There are lots of ways that Democratic line-drawers in Illinois could go with their map (and plenty of Republicans to target), and the same goes for a commission-drawn map in New Jersey, which, like Illinois, is losing a seat.
And while it’s not clear just which members will be victimized by redistricting, it’s pretty apparent there will be dozens of them.
At least 12 members will not be returning simply because their state is losing a district; the new redistricting rules in California and Florida alone could put several members in danger in each state, depending upon how things pan out; and Republicans have unprecedented control over the drawing of Democratic seats (although their ability to make substantial gains is far from clear, as in many states, the 2010 election maxed out what the GOP could hope for in many states).
All of these things suggest even more upheaval than previous rounds of redistricting and a significant restructuring of certain states’ congressional delegations — a.k.a. lots of new members next Congress.
But who is the most likely not to return? Our Friday Line looks at the 10 members most likely to be victimized by the redistricting process.
The number one ranked Member is considered the biggest redistricting casualty.
To the line!
10. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.): McNerney is the only member in California’s entire 53-person delegation to win a seat from the other party over the last decade. He was able to hold that GOP-leaning district in 2010 because of its tiny arm reaching up into Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay area. McNerney lives on that arm. The problem for him is that redistricting is now in the hands of a citizen’s commission, and many people think the commission will have no regard for incumbents’ residences. The fact that McNerney is from an extreme part of his district — not to mention less than 10 miles from Rep. Pete Stark’s (D) hometown — means he’s unlikely to live in his own home district. And in a primary against a longtime member like Stark, he’d be an underdog.
9. Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa): The big news today is that Latham, rather than running in the newly drawn 4th district, will travel south to challenge Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) in what amounts to the first matchup between incumbents of the 2012 election cycle. The state’s nonparitsan redistricting commission drew a map that put Latham and Rep. Steve King (R) in the same district, but it appears Latham likes his chances against Boswell better. It will still be tough though, as the new district includes more than three times as many Boswell constituents as Latham constituents.
8. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.): With Michigan’s congressional delegation needing to shrink by a seat before the 2012 election, Peters, who was elected in 2008, has long been seen as the most likely target. The expectation has long been that Peters would be drawn into a district with veteran Rep. Sander Levin, setting up a primary matchup. But the recent decision to challenge Peters by state Rep. Marty Knollenberg (R), the son of the man Peters unseated and a member of the redistricting committee in the state, has some people confused about the seat’s future. Peters has said he plans to run for some office in 2012, and the whopping $434,000 he raised in the first fundraising quarter suggests he will be formidable wherever he chooses to run. Keep in mind: Peters is considered a potential future statewide candidate, and drawing him out of his seat may just hasten his next move.
7. Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.): It’s hard to pick which Illinois Republican is the most likely target of the Democratic-led redistricting process. It could be Schilling or fellow freshmwn Reps. Joe Walsh, Robert Dold, or Adam Kinzinger. It could even be Rep. Aaron Schock, whose central Peoria-based district is probably the easiest to carve out with the state set to lose a seat. The most likely candidate to see his district become nearly unwinnable, though, is Schilling, who already represents a Demoratic-leaning western Illinois district. The easy solution appears to be drawing Peoria into it to make it even more Democratic — a scenario which could also set up a primary between Schilling and Schock. Schilling was seen as something of a fluke winner in 2010, and he should have his work cut out for him in 2012.
6. Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.): Dreier got lucky 10 years ago, when a deal was cut to keep him safe for the next decade. After a decade’s worth of demographic changes, though, it will be tough to keep his district even slightly friendly to a Republican — even if the citizen line-drawers were looking out for Dreier (which they probably won’t be). His current district is now more than 50 percent black and Hispanic, it voted for Obama in 2008, and he lives just a few miles from fellow GOP Rep. Gary Miller (R). Smart California observers suggest Dreier may face a primary with either Miller or Rep. Jerry Lewis (R), either of which would probably be in unfriendly territory for Dreier.
5. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio): While media attention has focused on the possibility that iconic liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich will lose his seat — much of it stoked by Kucinich himself — Sutton is the more obvious target for Republican line-drawers. With Ohio losing two districts, the GOP will want to eliminate one of the three Cleveland-area Democratic seats. Parts of her district can simply be parceled off to the three Democrats she borders -- Reps. Kucinich, Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan. That would leave her with few good options; she’s not likely to win a primary against any of her current colleagues.
4. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.): Carnahan’s famous last name – he is the son of the late governor Mel Carnahan and former senator Jean Carnahan – doesn’t appear to have done him much good in the redistricting fight. The proposed maps in Missouri put Carnahan in a district with Rep. William Lacy Clay (D) that includes all of St. Louis and would likely to be very tough for Carnahan to win. Carnahan raised better than $333,000 in the first three months of 2011 and has insisted he is planning to run for another term. If Clay doesn’t blink though — and it’s hard to see why he would – the demographics of the new seat make Carnahan a likely loser. He can pretty easily switch to running for another office — lieutenant governor has been mentioned — if he wants.
3. Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.): Republicans failed to take out Donnelly last fall, but the Republican-controlled redistricting plan could get the job done. The legislature’s plan, which will probably pass later this month, cuts much of the Democratic base out of Donnelly’s district and adds a bunch of GOP-friendly territory to the east. While local Democrats still claim they can hold the seat, it doesn’t look good. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.) says she’s talked to Donnelly about running for Senate instead. That may be the better option at this point, especially if Sen. Richard Lugar (R) winds up losing his primary to state Treasuer Richard Mourdock.
2. Brad Miller (D-N.C.): Ten years ago, as a state senator, Miller helped draw the lines for his own district. Even Democrats admit it’s a pretty blatant gerrymander. Now that Republicans control the process, it will be easy for them to get revenge by cutting off the the skinny fingers where his district reaches into Democratic territory in Raleigh and Greensboro. Such a change would shift the district instantly into a pretty strong Republican seat. Republicans aim to pick off two or three seats in North Carolina, and none should be easier than Miller’s. (Republicans point out that Miller raised just $32,000 in the first quarter and has just $69,000 on hand — not exactly the numbers of someone gearing up to run in a very tough seat.)
1. Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.): The new congressional map, which was signed this week by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), could hardly be worse for the freshman. His current district is sliced between neighboring districts held by Reps. Charles Boustany (R), Bill Cassidy (R) and Steve Scalise, leaving Landry without a significant base in any of the three. He now lives in Boustany’s district, and as a tea party favorite may have a shot in the primary, but this is almost all Boustany territory, and it would be very tough. Landry may be better served eyeing another office — perhaps challenging Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, who recently switched to become a Republican, in the primary this year. For what it’s worth, Landry recently filed a brief in the lawsuit by attorneys general across the country against President Obama’s health care bill.
Chris Cillizza and Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.