SSP Daily Digest: 2/4

CT-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons has previously sounded unlikely to run (and rather sulky about it), but now he’s saying he’s “considering” the race and will make a decision by March. He’s also seeking to replace state GOP party chair Chris Healy, who he thinks favored Linda McMahon during the nomination process. Simmons also had some kind words for state Sen. Scott Frantz as an option in case he himself doesn’t run.

FL-Sen: Already having the backing of the man he replaced as state Senate president (John Thrasher), now Mike Haridopolos got the endorsement of the Republican leader of the other chamber, state House speaker Dean Cannon. (Not that those kinds of endorsements move a lot of actual votes, but this could be harmful in the behind-the-scenes game to former state House majority leader Adam Hasner if he runs, as he’d probably have expected Cannon’s help.)

MA-Sen, MA-06: Rep. John Tierney didn’t sound much like a candidate in the Senate race when asked about it at an appearance with area high schoolers, saying he’s focused on his current job and plans to run again. That, on top of Barney Frank’s announcement yesterday that he’s running again (and the months-ago announcement from John Olver that he’s running again) point to an increasing likelihood that two of the state’s 10 Dem Congresspeople will have to face off in a primary (unless either Mike Capuano or Stephen Lynch roll the dice on a Senate bid). One other total wild card here that came into sharper relief today: John Kerry seems to be amping up his lobbying to become Secretary of State. While there’s no indication that Hillary Clinton is in any hurry to leave, that does raise the specter of another special election if there’s a changing of the guard at SoS after the 2012 election. That possibility, and the chance at an open seat run instead of going up against Scott Brown’s millions, might induce Capuano and Lynch to keep their House jobs for now.

NE-Sen: PPP gives AG Jon Bruning a substantial lead in the GOP Senate primary, for the right to take on Ben Nelson. He leads state Treasurer Don Stenberg 47-19, with throw-ins Pat Flynn and Deb Fischer at 7 and 6 apiece. Bruning’s faves among Republicans are 57/12.

VA-Sen: Jamie Radtke, the principal tea party opponent to George Allen in the GOP Senate primary so far, has shown she can compete, at least on the financial front. She raised $100K in the fourth quarter; Allen didn’t report anything since his candidacy didn’t launch until the new year.

WA-Gov, WA-AG: Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee is launching some rhetorical salvos in Republican AG Rob McKenna’s direction over health care reform in what’s very likely the beginnings of the 2012 gubernatorial general election; McKenna is one of the few blue-state AGs who signed on to the multi-state suit against HCR implementation, a possible foot-shooting move that seems more oriented toward fending off primary opposition from the right than enhancing his electability in November. By the way, if you’re wondering about who’s planning to replace McKenna in the AG slot, there’s word that ambitious King County Councilor Bob Ferguson is about to announce his candidacy next week. His likeliest GOP opponent is fellow King County Councilor (and progeny of WA-08’s Jennifer Dunn) Reagan Dunn.

WV-Gov: It looks like we finally have some consensus on when that pesky special election for Governor is going to be. The state House and Senate ironed out a compromise that will hold the primary on May 14 and the general election on Oct. 4. Acting Gov. (and candidate) Earl Ray Tomblin has agreed to sign off on the deal, even though it contains a different primary date than he wanted.

IA-03: Here’s some more evidence that 77-year-old Leonard Boswell is seriously gearing up for a 2012 battle to stay in the House, despite possibly facing two major opponents (first Christine Vilsack in a Dem primary, then Tom Latham in a redistricting-forced general). He named his former campaign manager Julie Stauch as his new chief of staff. (His fundraising may say otherwise, though; see below.)

LA-03, LA-AG: Jeff Landry, who’s been in the House all of one month, is the likeliest Rep. to get squeezed in a 6-district map of Louisiana, by virtue of his lack of seniority and depopulation in his district (and the need to keep next-door LA-02 a VRA district). So, it seems sensible that he’s already contemplating some alternate plans. Rumors are flying now that the reason that AG Buddy Caldwell is planning switch over to the Republican party is because Landry is looking at challenging Caldwell in this year’s AG race (although Caldwell’s switch would just move that challenge to the primary, if it goes through). David Rivera might not even have the shortest stay among this year’s freshman class, if Landry wins the AG race and leaves the House after one year.

Fundraising: This Politico piece on fundraising among House members has some interesting red flags from Q4 that may portend retirement. On the GOP side, CA-41’s Jerry Lewis raised $1,700, while MD-06’s Roscoe Bartlett raised all of $0. For the Dems, NY-05’s Gary Ackerman raised $924, NY-28’s Louise Slaughter raised $320, and MI-05’s Dale Kildee raised the strangely specific sum of $1.42. They also point to how fundraising may have dried up for several likely casualties of redistricting, including MI-09’s Gary Peters (down to $88K CoH), IA-03’s Leonard Boswell ($66K CoH), PA-12’s Mark Critz (net negative-$36K), and LA-03’s Jeff Landry (net negative-$24K).

Redistricting: As expected, the battle over Florida’s Fair Districts initiative is moving into the courts, starting with a new suit filed by the amendments’ backers (including the League of Women Voters and NAACP) demanding that Rick Scott re-engage the process of seeking VRA preclearance for the chances to Florida’s system. (Scott has apparently been dragging his feet on preclearance in hopes that the initiative’s requirements won’t be in place by the time of 2012 redistricting, which could let the GOP legislature gerrymander to their hearts’ content.) Meanwhile, the GOP legislature in Georgia is already consolidating their power to take advantage of their control of the trifecta there: they removed primary responsibility for map-drawing from the nonpartisan Carl Vinson Institute at UGA, and instead are creating a new Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office more directly under their control.

Census: If you tried to open the ftp version of the new Census data yesterday and found yourself looking at incomprehensible txt files (that, if you scroll through them quickly enough, look like you’re able to see through The Matrix), fear not. They’re available via American FactFinder now, and even through interactive widget form.

FEC: I’m not sure how many max-out donors we have among our readership, but the FEC has raised contribution limits for this cycle, meaning you can give a little more to your favorite candidate or committee before hitting the ceiling. You can now give up to $2,500 per candidate and $30,800 per committee.

Trivia: I had absolutely no idea this number was so low: there have been only four open seat Senate races in Texas since the 1920s. (Not only do Senators there tend to have long tenures, but vacancies tend to manifest themselves in special elections.) The races were in 1948, 1952, 1984, and 2002.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/2

UT-Sen: Democrats nailed down a candidate in dark-red Utah, not a likely place for a pickup but somewhere we want to be standing by to clean up in case the Republican primary turns into an insane bloodbath: Sam Granato, the head of the state Liquor Control Board.

Speaking of which, a third challenger just got into the GOP primary against long-time incumbent Bob Bennett: businesswoman and activist Cherilyn Eagar, who’s never run for office before but seems connected to some of the fringier members of Utah’s legislature, such as state Senator Margaret Dayton, who praised Eagar in that: “She’s a very impressive woman in her looks, intelligence and presentation.” Eagar’s rationale is that, in her words, “Utah’s conservative principles are no longer being represented in the U.S. Senate and no conservative has entered this race,” which seems bizarre considering that AG Mark Shurtleff and former Utah County GOP chair Tim Bridgewater are already challenging the very conservative Bennett from the right. Eagar also offered up this very strange mix of literary allusions: “Gulliver has been tied down by socialist gnomes for many years, but he’s starting to wake up.”

AZ-Gov: Arizona’s AG Terry Goddard is probably the Dems’ best chance to take back this seat, which just went to Republican ex-SoS Jan Brewer when Janet Napolitano vacated it (Brewer has not announced whether she’ll run for a full term). He recently stated that he “intends” to run for governor. (Arizona Republicans then tried to invoke Arizona’s resign-to-run law, which would require him to give up his AG job to become a governor’s candidate; so this weekend Goddard issued a lengthy explanation of why “intent” doesn’t make him a candidate.)

NM-Gov: Lt. Gov. Diane Denish has been considered Bill Richardson’s heir apparent in 2010, but it seems like she may not get a free ride on the way to the nomination. Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, according to his Facebook page, has formed an exploratory committee. Denish has a $1.7 million headstart on fundraising, though.

MD-04: Rep. Donna Edwards, who won a surprise primary in 2008 against out-of-touch incumbent Al Wynn, but is facing some within-the-district misgivings from local Jewish leaders (apparently up to 15% of the active electorate in her district is Jewish). This turns mostly on her decision to vote ‘present’ on January’s resolution recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself and condemning Hamas. State Delegate Herman Taylor has been gauging support within the Jewish community for a primary challenge to Edwards. While this wouldn’t seem to be a dominant issue in this African-American-majority district, two successful primary challenges from the right in 2002 (Artur Davis over Earl Hilliard in AL-07 and Denise Majette over Cynthia McKinney in GA-04) focused largely on Israel policy.

MD-06: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who turns 83 tomorrow, is often the source of open seat speculation. However, today he announced that he’ll be back for another term in his R+13 district in Maryland’s rural west.

SC-04: As an occasionally sane Republican (who voted for the bailout and against the Surge) in an R+15 district that’s an evangelical hotbed, Rep. Bob Inglis seems vulnerable this year, as the revved-up base seems less and less tolerant of apostasy. State Sen. David Thomas announced he’s seriously thinking of challenging Inglis and will make his announcement within days; Solicitor (equivalent to DA) Trey Gowdy also just announced that he’s entering the race. They’ll join an already crowded field including businessmen Andrew Smart and Jim Lee and professor Christina Jeffrey. While Inglis looks poised to win against this fractured field, if he does it with less than 50%, he’s facing a one-on-one runoff.

Gay marriage: The New York Senate is the only remaining obstacle to gay marriage in New York, and now state Senator Thomas Duane, prime mover of the legislation, says he now has the votes to get it passed (without naming names). Meanwhile, it’s not full marriage, but Nevada is poised to adopt domestic partnership. Over the weekend, both chambers of the legislature just overrode Governor Jim Gibbons’ veto of previously passed domestic partnership legislation (there was doubt whether it could clear the Assembly, where it passed by a bare 28-14 margin).

Meta: Wow, that year went fast: it’s my one-year blogiversary on SSP’s front page. Thanks to David and James for taking an interest in my writing, and to all the readers and commenters as well.

We’ve Got Crabs! (or, Redistricting Maryland)

(From the diaries – promoted by DavidNYC)

None of you asked for Maryland, but I wanted to redraw a state in which I couldn’t use townships and incorporated municipalities as a crutch. Four of Maryland’s five largest communities are unincorporated – Columbia, Silver Spring, Ellicott City and Germantown.

Plus, having lived in Maryland for quite awhile, I wanted to do a state that I actually had a local feel for. Lastly, Democrats control both the General Assembly and the Governorship, so no quips about this map being “unrealistic”!

I apologize for the title ahead of time – I’ve seen tourist gear with that slogan one too many times flying out of BWI….

My goals:

  • Strengthen Kratovil (1st)

  • Pack Republicans into Bartlett (6th)

  • Keep all other Democrats at their previous levels or 65%, whichever is lower.

(When you have this many Democrats to protect….)

Anyways, here’s the map (click for full-size version):

Update: I realized I mis-merged some shapes in my GIS and this lead to a misrepresentation of the 1st and 5th in Anne Arundel County. Fixed.

So normally, there’d be a nice map of the state broken up by municipalities and colored in based on McCain/Obama performance. In Maryland, this was harder: I consolidated precincts to match up with Census 2000’s voting tabulation districts (VTDs). Sometimes, in cases where precincts changed significantly, I consolidated some VTDs, too. I’ve creatively named these consolidated VTDs “CVTDs”.

Also, tabulating data by CVTD is a pain in the ass. Seriously. So I only created CVTDs for counties that had a chance of being split. So here’s the map, colored by CVTD for some counties (I wasn’t going to split Calvert, St. Mary’s, the Eastern Shore, or the Panhandle).

District-by-district, here goes (numbers are: Population, Voters, %African American, Obama%, McCain%):

1 662,203 357,190 26.89% 56.48% 42.11%
Anne Arundel 117,748 65,392 20.21% 56.33% 41.93%
Caroline 29,772 13,218 14.77% 37.61% 60.64%
Cecil 85,951 42,494 3.91% 41.57% 56.14%
Dorchester 30,674 15,274 28.39% 45.25% 53.48%
Kent 19,197 10,020 17.41% 49.43% 48.95%
Prince George’s 148,552 87,295 59.27% 88.42% 10.86%
Queen Anne’s 40,563 24,045 8.78% 35.66% 62.74%
Somerset 24,747 9,924 41.10% 48.16% 50.76%
Talbot 33,812 20,328 15.36% 44.45% 54.09%
Wicomico 84,644 41,854 23.29% 46.44% 52.20%
Worcester 46,543 27,346 16.66% 41.59% 57.07%

This is the district we were all wondering about, Frank Kratovil’s 1st. Before, the 1st took in all of the Eastern Shore, a chunk each of Anne Arundel, Harford, and Baltimore counties. Those parts were absolutely brutal, so I removed the the BaltCo (35% Obama)/Harford (33% Obama) parts completely. Additionally, instead of taking in the Republican pats along the North Shore, the district runs through the city of Annapolis proper and into PG County. Yes, the district reaches across the bay, but the old district did this too. Plus now, I can use the Bay Bridge as an excuse, as both ascents to the bridge are in this district now. Obama lost the AA part of the district 39-59, but he won the reconfigured part of Anne Arundel 56-42. We weren’t going to more artfully draw Baltimore, so for Democratic strength, the new 1st looks to Prince George’s County – Obama’s 88-11 performance there anchors this district. Overall, Obama scored 56% here – up a whopping 16%.

2 662,315 309,805 25.58% 60.34% 37.71%
Baltimore 419,630 204,167 21.76% 57.30% 40.74%
Baltimore City 143,321 56,010 42.46% 79.02% 19.26%
Harford 99,364 49,628 17.36% 51.75% 46.08%

Dutch Ruppersberger’s district doesn’t change much – still the southern half of Harford, an arm across Northern BaltCo, and a section of the city. However, there’s no awkward arm across the Patapsco into Anne Arundel this time. The Harford section is a tad less Democratic, the BaltCo section a bit more, and Baltimore City a bit less. However, the removal of Anne Arundel bumps this district to 60%, up about 0.5%.

3 662,016 356,350 18.53% 60.69% 37.37%
Anne Arundel 108,683 57,529 17.90% 50.80% 47.30%
Baltimore 239,472 126,645 22.89% 61.92% 35.97%
Baltimore City 74,391 32,258 17.57% 72.34% 25.89%
Howard 239,470 139,918 14.76% 60.95% 37.20%

Surprisingly, I think this incarnation of the 3rd is less gerrymandered than before – there’s no one-block wide sliver connecting to distinct sections. The major change from before is the placement of almost all of Howard County into this district, which had been located mostly in the 7th. Instead of making a westward facing loop through Baltimore as before to hit Towson, this district makes an eastward facing U. Obama got 61%, up 2% from before.

4 661,820 293,331 51.60% 82.43% 16.65%
Montgomery 309,396 153,066 22.75% 71.41% 27.28%
Prince George’s 352,424 140,265 76.92% 94.46% 5.06%

Donna Edwards’ district also isn’t changed much. A large section of upcounty MontCo and Prince George’s along the DC line. With the 8th shifted northward, the 4th is a bit more Montgomery-heavy, but stays majority African-American. This shift drops Obama’s performance by about 3%, but this is still the most Democratic district in Maryland at 82%.

5 661,222 352,347 30.44% 64.23% 34.51%
Anne Arundel 79,363 47,288 5.90% 43.67% 54.55%
Calvert 74,563 44,057 13.11% 46.07% 52.42%
Charles 120,546 70,127 26.06% 62.22% 36.69%
Prince George’s 300,539 146,466 47.72% 83.78% 15.20%
St. Mary’s 86,211 44,409 13.92% 42.84% 55.63%

Steny Hoyer’s district, again, experiences some minor shifts. It still contains all of the Southern Maryland trifecta of Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s. I had thought about cracking Charles to tap its population growth and Democratic trend, but ultimately decided against it. A large chunk of PG is taken by the 1st, so this district expands farther into Anne Arundel. At 64%, this is about a 1% drop.

6 663,091 354,947 3.61% 35.44% 62.22%
Allegany 74,930 29,742 5.35% 35.95% 61.88%
Baltimore 50,784 32,008 1.36% 32.03% 65.08%
Carroll 150,897 84,760 2.28% 33.11% 64.30%
Frederick 97,113 54,983 2.06% 40.21% 57.86%
Garrett 29,846 12,872 0.43% 29.02% 69.17%
Harford 119,226 73,667 2.53% 31.04% 66.35%
Howard 8,372 5,315 4.60% 34.51% 63.03%
Washington 131,923 61,600 7.77% 42.61% 55.47%

We took some Republicans out of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd districts, and this is where they go. I cut out Democratic-trending and sububanizing southern Frederick County and just packed as many deep-red VTDs in here as possible from Harford and northern Baltimore County. The Panhandle and Carroll County remain in their entirety. This drops Dem performance to 35%, down 5%.

7 661,710 265,229 55.65% 72.99% 25.62%
Anne Arundel 183,862 89,411 10.02% 42.84% 55.09%
Baltimore 44,406 18,118 10.72% 46.90% 50.51%
Baltimore City 433,442 157,700 79.60% 93.08% 6.05%

Before, this district took in a large chunk of Howard County, before reaching into Western BaltCo and West Baltimore. We took the extremely Republican parts of Anne Arundel County out of the 1st, and this was the safest place to deposit them. The anchor of the district stays Baltimore City, which also maintains the 56% African-American composition of the district. At 73% Obama, this is a drop-off of 6%, but again, no cause for concern.

8 662,109 342,398 10.92% 69.23% 29.27%
Frederick 98,164 56,203 10.62% 56.77% 41.56%
Montgomery 563,945 286,195 10.97% 71.68% 26.85%

It was tempting to make this district solely Montgomery County, but that’d well, be too clean. (It’d also abandon some strong Democratic votes in Frederick City.) Thus, this takes a bite out of Southern Frederick along 270, and then takes in the western half of Montgomery County and ventures east into Silver Spring. Frederick is nowhere as Democratic as downcounty Montgomery County, resulting in a 5% drop in Obama’s performance to 69%. Even if Frederick’s shift was a one-time thing for Obama, the vast majority of the district is still in Montgomery County.

So I’m pretty sure my map of Maryland is not only better – resulting an improvement for the three most marginal Democratic districts and negligible drops in the other 4 Democratic districts – but less gerrymandered, I dare say. Questions, comments, witty descriptors for what the districts look like, and suggestions always welcome.