Home Means Nevada: Redistricting Congress “Fairly”

(Also at Nevada Progressive)

In our previous glimpses into redistricting Nevada’s Congressional Districts, we discussed what would happen if The Legislature redraws the lines based on certain politicians’ future aspirations. But this time, I’m throwing a curveball at you. What happens if The Legislature can’t agree on a map?

Today, the fun really begins with a glimpse of a possible court drawn map.

Yes, you heard me right. Two law suits have already been filed, one by the Nevada Democratic Party and another by the Nevada GOP, and more legal action may follow if The Legislature drags on without a map ready for 2012. If the increasingly brutal state budget battle drags on to Summer Special Session with no agreement in sight, there’s a good chance the gridlock will also extend to redistricting. And as much as Nevada Supreme Court justices do NOT want to wade into redistricting, I’ve been hearing that both they and the major parties are seeing it as more of a real possibility.

So what happens? Let’s take a look at just that, as a few angry judges throw out the political memos and guide a nonpartisan team to draw “fair” lines.

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NV-02 (The Dark Green District)

Population: 674,932

69.3% White (73.7% VAP)

The State of Play

As you can see above, this is still a Washoe County based district. The good news for Republicans is that Washoe’s flirtations with Democrats can be offset by heavily Republican rural areas like Elko, Douglas, and Lyon Counties. However, the bad news is that swingy Mineral County and Carson City are also included. All in all, The 2nd District becomes slightly more Democratic.

Who’s All In?

Now that Kirk Lippold and Sharron Angle are officially in, let the tea-nuttery begin! It will be to fun to see those two out-crazy each other, then watch as “poor” Mark Amodei and Brian Krolicki try to get some of those teabagger votes without going too far off the deep end.

On the Democratic side, State Treasurer Kate Marshall is sounding more and more like a real candidate.

The Wild Cards

However, Marshall may not be alone. 2006 and 2008 NV-02 Democratic nominee Jill Derby is also looking at the race, along with Assembly Member Debbie Smith (D-Sparks) and Reno City Council Member Jessica Sferrazza. Now that all out madness is ensuing on the GOP side, Washoe Dems are increasingly liking their chances here… But it still won’t be an easy ride. Why? See below.

Estimated 2008 Results: 49-50% Obama (D)

Early Race Rating: Leans Republican for now, Tossup if Angle or Lippold wins the GOP primary

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NV-04 (The Purple District)

Population: 675,314

61.9% White (65.2% VAP)

The State of Play

Now here’s where things start to get wild! Notice some changes? For one, it’s the new district that now gets drawn into the rurals. The new 4th District starts in rural Churchill County (Fallon gets placed in NV-02 because it can be argued it shares a community of interest with the other Reno exurbs), but otherwise the other rural counties are left whole as the district stretches from Ely down to Pahrump, then finally to Clark County. And once the district crosses into Clark, it takes in northern rural areas, from Indian Springs to Overton & Mesquite, then drops into the valley to take in the once rapidly expanding Northwest and Southwest Las Vegas suburbs, as well as all of Summerlin and some whiter West Side neighborhoods.

In essence, this is THE classic swing district with a unique mix of rural Republican strongholds, urban Democratic bases, and a whole lot of evenly divided suburban battlegrounds that can very well go either way next year… And that’s how the court will want it.

Who’s All In?

Notice something else? There’s no incumbent here! Even though there technically is one in Shelley Berkley, we all now know what she’s up to. So in her absence, there should be a wild ride on both sides in vying for this seat.

On the Republican side, State Senator Barbara Cegavske‘s (R-Summerlin) wish will finally be fulfilled as she now has an open seat to compete in. But then again, she may get an unwanted surprise if local teabagger groups rally behind the newly crowned, tea-tinged superstar in State Senator Elizabeth Halseth (R-Northwest Vegas). State Assembly Member Scott Hammond (R-Northwest Vegas) may also feel the temptation.

On the Democratic side, Assembly Member Marcus Conklin (D-Northwest Vegas) may be real opportunity here. And considering his gracious concession earlier this month and offer to endorse Chris Giunchigliani for Las Vegas Mayor after 15 votes separated them in the primary, Larry Brown is busy re-earning goodwill that may come in handy should he run for Congress next year. (By the way, in case you were wondering, he’s also apologized for the confusion over his support for SB 283 and domestic partnerships for LGBTQ families.) And unless the Nevada GOP can sideline Cegavske and Halseth in favor of a more mainstream nominee, Dems may very well like their chances here.

The Wild Cards

Hey, isn’t it wild enough already!

Estimated 2008 Results: 51-54% Obama (D)

Early Race Rating: Tossup

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NV-01 (The Blue District)

Population: 674,765

47.0% Latino (41.2% VAP), 29.1% White (34.5% VAP), 14.6% African American (14.8% VAP)

The State of Play

Even if Shelley Berkley wasn’t running for Senate, the court would not care where she lives or where she “wants” to represent. But now that she’s definitely out of the picture, all bets are off! The 1st District contracts to just (all of) North Las Vegas and the older, more Latino and African American heavy parts of The City of Las Vegas, as well as a few heavily Latino unincorporated Clark County areas and the northern half of The Strip.

Who’s All In?

State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) hasn’t done a great job of hiding his desire to head to DC. And thankfully for him, a court drawn map doesn’t prevent that, as this is designed to be a VRA protected minority-majority coalition district.

However, the path isn’t too clear for him. After all, this is a strong Latino plurality district, and State Senator Ruben Kihuen (D-North Las Vegas) is a fierce fighter who’s gaining broader appeal as a strong, progressive voice in The Legislature. Since this district overlaps with nearly all of his current Senate district, Kihuen definitely can’t be counted out.

The Wild Cards

State Senator John Lee (D-North Las Vegas) isn’t stupid, so perhaps he can’t entirely be counted out yet. But as I’ve said before, he’s acting far too conservative this session to really gain traction in a Democratic primary here.

And sorry, Republicans, but there’s really no GOPer who can compete here.

Estimated 2008 Results: 67-68% Obama (D)

Early Race Rating: Safe Democratic

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NV-03 (The Red District)

Population: 675,520

56.2% White (60.3% VAP), 23.1% Latino (19.8% VAP), 9.6% Asian American (10.0% VAP)

The State of Play

Now here’s where things get really crazy! Remember, the court is overseeing the drawing of this map. The judges don’t care what Joe Heck wants or who he wants to represent. All they care about are population equity and fair boundaries. So unfortunately for him, he’s forced to accept a Henderson based district that keeps the entire city intact while stretching north into the strongly Democratic East Side (which can be argued shares a community of interest with most of Henderson), and west across The Strip to heavily Democratic Spring Valley (which can be argued shares a community of interest with The East Side, and is needed for population equity), and across Eastern Avenue to Democratic leaning Silverado Ranch.

However, Democrats shouldn’t get too giddy here. Remember, ALL of Henderson is kept in here, including Joe Heck’s own MacDonald Ranch/Roma Hills base as well as the opulent, affulent, & Republican dominant Anthem & Seven Hills communities. Also kept in are more GOP heavy Boulder City, along with the rural communities of Searchlight and Laughlin further south (as well as Primm, added in from NV-02).

Who’s All In?

Obviously, Joe Heck wants another term. However, he will really have to rethink his strategy if The Legislature deadlocks on the state budget and redistricting gets determined in court. Since he’s likely to be kept in what will at least be a Democratic tilting district, he will need far more crossover support than he got in 2010 to survive next year in a district President Obama will probably win by double digits again.

So obviously, Heck looks to be an inviting target for Assembly Speaker John Oceguera (D-Silverado Ranch). He’s survived tough battles before, and he’s in the fight of his life now over the state budget. He may feel ready to take on Heck…

But there’s someone else waiting in the wings, someone who will have waited a year for the rematch she’s been looking for. Dina Titus definitely shouldn’t be counted out, especially since she only barely lost last time… And this time, many of the areas where she performed worst have been removed. Meanwhile, her East Side base is left intact, along with the Green Valley (Henderson) neighborhoods where she beat Heck.

The Wild Cards

Byron Georgiou has quickly turned from welcomed Democratic fundraiser to unwelcome Democratic pariah. Both Shelley Berkley and Harry Reid want him out of the Senate race, and rumors have surfaced about him possibly running for House instead. So will it be here? Or in the new NV-04 seat? Or maybe even NV-01? Whatever the case, a whole lot of Democratic strategists nervously await where Georgiou will land.

And of course, depending on what Joe Heck does, particularly how he votes in The House, there’s a chance of him being called for “tea time” in the GOP primary.

Estimated 2008 Results: 55-57% Obama (D)

Early Race Rating: Tossup for now, Leans Democratic if Heck has primary woes & Dems get a top notch nominee

So there you have it. This is just one scenario of what might happen if redistricting Nevada’s Congressional Districts is tossed to the courts for judges to decide and nonpartisan players to draw. An incumbent is thrown into jeopardy, two open seats lead to total feeding frenzies, and an epic rematch may be coming to doorsteps near me soon.

Home Means Nevada: Redistricting Congress (Part I)

(Also at Nevada Progressive)

It is here. After hours of careful line drawing and days of poring over precinct results, the map has arrived. This is Nevada redistricted, baby!

So will the actual final map look something like this? Honestly, I don’t know for sure. Perhaps legislators on both sides of the aisle will want even safer seats and are willing to configure some gruesome looking districts to get them… Or perhaps last minute talks of redistricting collapse as a casualty in an ongoing state budget brawl, leaving the courts to ultimately draw the lines. But most likely, as is usual tradition, The Nevada Legislature will agree on some sort of last minute budget deal, and on a bipartisan redistricting gerrymander.

Still, this year is different. As population continues to swell in Clark County (Greater Las Vegas), political power is slowly-but-surely shifting southward as well. Clark is destined to pick up as many as three legislative seats from the north, as well as a brand new Congressional District. For the first time ever, three Las Vegas area politicians will likely be sent to The House of Representatives.

And for the first time ever, Nevada will likely have three open House seats! It’s looking increasingly likely that both Rep. Dean Heller (R-Carson City) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas) will run for the US Senate seat currently held by John Ensign (R-Sleaze), so legislators may very well be drawing the new district map with this in mind. And more importantly, they will likely be keeping in mind that some of their own, as well as a few powerful friends outside, will want to run in each of these open seats.

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In drawing this map, I had several objectives in mind. First, I didn’t want to grossly “over-gerrymander” DeLay style, especially since law suits are already being filed here. But while I didn’t want to go overboard, I did clearly have campaign politics in mind while drawing these districts. There are two minority-majority seats, one having a Latino plurality, designed to elect Democrats, and two seats engineered to be as Republican leaning as possible.

So did I succeed? We’ll have to wait and see. Nevada Democrats may very well see unprecedented primary action in NV-01 and NV-04. And while NV-02 and NV-03 are currently held by Republicans, they will have to continue to fight an increasingly tough battle against changing Reno and Las Vegas demographics in the decade to come.

So enough of me blathering on and on… Let’s check out the new districts!

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NV-02

(The Green District)

Population: 675,162

69.4% White (73.8% voting age)

The State of Play

First up, the second district. (We’re starting north, and heading south.) Dean Heller currently represents this seat. And even though he’s only done so since 2007, it seems pretty natural for him. He’s a long time Carson City person (both in residence and in Nevada political experience), and he has a conservative-but-not-too-fire-breathing persona that allows him to win comfortably a district that only barely voted for John McCain (by fewer than 100 votes!) in 2008.

However, this will likely change. Again, Heller may very well soon announce his campaign for US Senate, leaving this seat open for the first time since Jim Gibbons left this seat to run for Governor in 2006. And due to Reno area growth, NV-02 has to shed some rural territory to meet the new Census Bureau population guideline. So what happens?

Long story short, NV-02 is now a district that narrowly voted for Barack Obama and Sharron Angle. It’s a closely divided district that will provide a challenge for the typically mighty Washoe Republicans, in that they will need to settle on a candidate who can please GOP primary voters while being able to win enough moderate voters in the general election to keep this seat in GOP hands.

Who’s All In?

Again, Dean Heller looks to be out, but a final decision hasn’t yet be made, so he might still surprise us by staying put. Of course, there has also been plenty of talk of Sharron Angle running (again) for this seat. Even though she carried this district by 5.8% in her Senate run against Harry Reid last year, 2012 will be a Presidential year with higher Reno area turnout. And as we saw on the campaign trail last year, Angle couldn’t even make peace with her fellow Washoe Republicans, so she will have a much harder time holding onto this seat than someone like Heller (who narrowly beat Angle in the 2006 NV-02 GOP primary).

The Wild Cards

Funny enough, I haven’t heard much gossip (yet) over who may be angling for this seat… Other than the obvious. And even though they were just recently sworn into The State Senate (one elected, the other appointed), Reno Republicans Ben Kieckhefer and Greg Brower may be attractive to GOP leaders as they likely search for electable mainstream conservatives to stop Sharron Angle. On the Democratic side, the options aren’t quite as wide. Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall does live in Reno, but she hasn’t expressed interest in running for Congress… Can Sharron Angle change that?

2010 US Senate Results

49.6% Angle (R)

43.8% Reid (D)

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

49% Obama (D)

48% McCain (R)

Estimated Cook PVI: R+4

Early Race Rating: Likely Republican if Dean Heller runs here again, but upgraded to Leans Republican if Heller runs for Senate, and upgraded further to Tossup should Sharron Angle run to replace him!

NV-03

(The Purple District)

Population: 674,792

66.5% White (69.7% voting age)

The State of Play

In the “Republican Wave” year of 2010, Joe Heck barely won with less than 50% of the vote and by fewer than 2,000 votes. That worries Nevada Republicans, and that’s why GOP legislators (especially those in Clark) will likely go to the mat to make NV-03 safer for Heck.

Mr. “War Hero” Heck could barely beat supposedly reviled “Las Vegas LIB’RUL!!!” Dina Titus by fewer than 2,000 votes, and for Heck’s campaign to succeed in a likely more Democratic friendly environment in 2012, this must change. So it has… At least here on my map.

Dina’s political base is widely acknowledged to be the progressive minded, ethnically diverse, labor union heavy, and LGBT friendly confines of The East Side, also known as “Paradise Township“, which consists the older neighborhoods just east of The Las Vegas Strip. So to shore up Heck, I removed The East Side from NV-03 and placed it instead in the newly created NV-04 seat (more on that later!).

Now in addition to that, Heck also had a problem much closer to home. Even though Heck lives in Henderson, both he and Sharron Angle lost a number of Henderson precincts just down the hill from him in uber-exclusive Roma Hills, in the slightly older (meaning built in the 1980s and 90s) and increasingly Democratic friendly neighborhoods of Green Valley and Green Valley Ranch. So to further shore up Heck, I also placed these areas in NV-04 (again, more on that later, including who this also helps!).

Instead, I gave Heck only the most Republican friendly parts of NV-03, and supplemented them with mostly GOP heavy areas previously in NV-01 and NV-02. The perennially stylish and upscale Summerlin development (including “retiree heaven” Sun City Summerlin) is almost entirely reunited here, and joined by a number of previously fast growing Northwest and Southwest valley exurbs. From there, NV-03 almost exclusively picks up the most conservative neighborhoods of Henderson, including wealthy Seven Hills and Anthem (including “retirement resort community” Sun City Anthem), as well as Old Henderson. In addition, NV-03 takes in all the rural Clark County communities (such as Mesquite, Primm, and Laughlin) outside The Las Vegas Valley.

Oh, and of course, all those rural areas previously in NV-02, from Ely to Hawthorne to Pahrump, have to go somewhere. They end up here… But they could end up being a double-edged sword for Joe Heck.

Who’s All In?

From all indications, Joe Heck wants to run for reelection, and this map will surely entice him to do so again. However, he’s not completely out of the woods yet. In fact, like the situation in NV-02, he will have to balance appealing to moderate suburban voters who may very well vote for President Obama again (who STILL won this district in 2008) with keeping “tea party” GOP primary voters happy. It’s no easy task.

The Wild Cards

Should “Tea Party, Inc.” ever fall out of favor with Heck, or Heck just decides to run for yet another higher office later this decade, they have a number of local GOPers to choose from. State Senator Elizabeth Halseth (R-Las Vegas) is seen by many as a rising “tea party” superstar, and State Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-Summerlin) is a long time right-wing stalwart. They’re basically Vegas’ answer to Sharron Angle, and Cegavske has already dropped hints of a future Congressional run. And of course, it’s not like “Chicken Lady” Sue Lowden is ever really leaving the political stage any time soon.

However, they can easily be stopped cold in their tracks. Why? Look at the partisan numbers. Angle only barely won this district last year, and Obama may very well win this district again next year. Joe Heck may have a hard enough time locking down this seat, but the task becomes even more difficult should he ever leave (or be primaried out).

Even though the rural areas (save for Mineral County) may be incredibly difficult for any Democrat to win, a Democrat may once again win this district if he or she can run up the margin enough in Vegas. In the future, the incredibly smart and talented State Senator Allison Copening (D-Summerlin) may have a once-in-a-lifetime opening to go from Carson’s Capitol to Capitol Hill… Or perhaps it will be Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen, someone from a long-time “Nevada royal family” who lives in the slice of Henderson staying in NV-03… Or maybe wonky “deficit hawk”, Clark County Commissioner, and current Las Vegas Mayoral Candidate Larry Brown (D-Summerlin)?

2010 US Senate Results

Angle (R) 48.5%

Reid (D) 46.3%

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

Obama (D) 51%

McCain (R) 47%

Estimated Cook PVI: R+2

Early Race Rating: Leans Republican

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NV-01

(The Blue District)

Population: 675,212

44.4% Latino (38.7% voting age)

31.7% White (37.3% voting age)

14.7% African American (14.7% voting age)

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The State of Play

“Your Favorite Congresswoman”, Shelley Berkley, may soon be looking to move to greener pastures. And who can blame her? She’s back in the minority in The House. She doesn’t have the best relationship with Nancy Pelosi. In many ways, she’s boxed in… Unless she stomps outside that box in her signature bedazzled pumps and forges new ground with a Senate run.

So that may very well happen, and if it does we have yet another open seat battle here in Nevada! But unlike NV-02, all the drama will be in the Democratic primary.

Assuming Shelley runs for Senate, her Summerlin area stomping grounds are moved aside to NV-03 and NV-04, so NV-01 can become more of a minority-majority district and help the state’s Congressional Delegation better reflect the diversity of our fine state.

So instead, some heavily Latino Northeast precincts previously in NV-03 are moved here, even as other heavily Latino East Side precincts are shifted from NV-01 to the new NV-04 seat. Now, Latino and African American heavy North Las Vegas becomes the centerpiece of the district, complemented by the Democratic dominant inner city neighborhoods of Las Vegas.

See the recurring theme here? Notice how this affects the 2012 field below.

Who’s All In?

State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) had been seen as a rising star for years, but now he’s made it to the top. He’s among the most powerful pols in Carson City today, as well as the highest ranked African American in state government alongside Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Douglas. His career has been illustrious, but it hasn’t always been easy.

He’s now locked in a tough budget battle with Governor Brian Sandoval (R) and GOP legislators, and he is one of the very people overseeing this entire redistricting process. If he truly wants to run for Congress, he has to make miracles happen in Carson City this year, otherwise…

The Wild Cards

“Conventional Wisdom” here in Vegas may again be turned on its head. After all, this is now a Latino plurality seat. State Senator Ruben Kihuen (D-North Las Vegas) knows this first hand as one of the youngest Senators, as someone raised in an immigrant Mexican American family who climbed his way all the way up here, and as someone who’s succeeded despite earning the ire of the once omnipotent Culinary 226. While Kihuen himself hasn’t expressed interest in running, especially after just being elected as State Senator, his name has been floated around.

State Senator John Lee (D-North Las Vegas) actually has signaled interest in running, but he’s probably too moderate to win the Democratic primary in this district.

And sorry, Republicans, but there are virtually no GOP candidates who even want to try here.

2010 US Senate Results

62.9% Reid (D)

32.3% Angle (R)

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

67% Obama (D)

31% McCain (R)

Estimated Cook PVI: D+14

Early Race Rating: Safe Democratic

NV-04

(The Red District)

Population: 675,294

49.0% White (53.4% voting age)

27.0% Latino (23.2% voting age)

11.5% Asian American (12.0% voting age)

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The State of Play

This is the story of “The Comeback Kid”. After being beat up and beat down, it’s time to rise again and shine in the glorious Mojave Desert Sun. But wait, whose comeback are we talking about?

Can it be Dina Titus‘? After all, she’s no stranger to comebacks. After her surprisingly-but-still-painfully close loss to Jim Gibbons in the 2006 Gubernatorial Election, she was written off for (politically) “dead”. But when Democrats wanted to contest NV-03 in 2008 (and Harry Reid’s political team wanted to do away with Jon Porter as a possible 2010 candidate against him) and their originally preferred candidate turned out to be a dud, they had nowhere else to go. Dina obliged, and she then found her redemption… Only to lose it again last year, and by less than 2,000 votes! But is Dina’s story really over?

Or can Rory Reid‘s find a new beginning? He was heralded for ending a painful period of local political corruption culminating in the saucy, racy “G Sting” FBI probe that took down a voting majority of Clark County Commissioners for taking bribes from stripper clubs out to put rival clubs out of business. He was commended for thinking ahead and pushing Clark County to take seriously matters of sustainable growth. He was seen as a real contender, then the 2010 Gubernatorial race happened and he was lost in translation as the Reno powers that be championed Brian Sandoval as their “anointed one”. It was so strange to see Rory’s political career cut short so abruptly last year, but can it be regrown?

UPDATE: Apparently the answer to my earlier question is a resounding Hell to the No! Sorry, but Rory did this to himself… Even if he broke no laws. Score one for Teams Titus and Buckley in Round 1.

Or can Barbara Buckley‘s be reborn? After all, she was seen as the most powerful Assembly Speaker seen in ages. She was the once dismissed “bleeding heart liberal” who then rocked the political establishment with legislative accomplishments on everything from patients’ rights to child welfare to home foreclosure mediation and prevention. And at one point, she looked to be quite the formidable candidate for Governor… Until she stepped aside for Rory Reid… But will she be so willing to step aside again?

Funny enough, all three of these big name Clark Democrats live in this newly created Congressional District. It starts in the more Democratic friendly Summerlin area neighborhoods, then leaps down to Buckley’s home base of Spring Valley, then crosses The 15 and Las Vegas Boulevard to jump into Dina’s East Side turf, then turns south to take in Rory’s ‘hood in the Green Valley part of Henderson. Either there will be some heated back room negotiations among party leaders on who gets this seat, or there will be a primary so exciting it may even eclipse the drama of the 2006 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary that Dina wasn’t “supposed to win”.

The Wild Cards

But wait, the list of candidates isn’t even over yet! There’s another potential suitor possibly waiting in the wings. After Barbara Buckley was termed out of The Assembly last year, John Oceguera became the new Speaker. However, this gig won’t last long. He will be termed out himself next year. And even though he himself hasn’t suggested it, his name has also been rumored for a run here. If he wins, he will be Nevada’s first Native American member of Congress. His challenge will probably be succeeding in this legislative session (a shared goal with Horsford) and not letting the recent drama over Las Vegas/Clark County firefighter pay take him down (even though he’s actually a North Las Vegas firefighter, and they’ve had no labor trouble there).

On the Republican side, however, it’s slim pickings. Perhaps Assembly Member Mark Sherwood (R-Henderson) or State Senator Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) can try, but both are far too conservative to even get close. After all, both only barely defeated their Democratic opponents last year.

2010 US Senate Results

55.9% Reid (D)

39.3% Angle (R)

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

60% Obama (D)

37% McCain (R)

Estimated Cook PVI: D+7

Early Race Rating: Likely Democratic for now… And probably eventually becoming Safe Democratic barring any major scandal or unusually strong GOP candidate.

So this is my first Nevada map, a map I had with state legislators and certain big name pols in mind. In the future, I may draw more maps under different scenarios, such as Dean Heller and Shelley Berkley staying put in The House, or what might happen should The Legislature come crashing down over the state budget, forcing the courts to draw the final lines.

Let me know what you think and/or if you have your own maps to share. 🙂

SSP Daily Digest: 11/18

AK-Sen: Is there anyone other than Joe Miller left who wants Joe Miller to keep contesting the Senate race? The state GOP organization is now saying it “stands ready to embrace Lisa Murkowski” as the winner of the race, despite her not having won its primary. I’m sure they were secretly ready all along to do so… recall that the person issuing the statement, state party chair Randy Ruedrich, was the guy that Joe Miller was trying to orchestrate a palace coup against, which got him fired from his Fairbanks borough job. I can’t imagine much love lost between Ruedrich and Miller.

IN-Sen: Richard Lugar, who just announced that he’s running for re-election, is laying down a pretty big marker (and one that probably helped convince him to run again). He’s out with an internal poll from American Viewpoint that, while it doesn’t specifically poll the 2012 GOP Senate primary, shows him with huge approvals, though apparently among all voters and not just registered Republicans. He’s at 66% favorable. Two of his potential GOP opponents, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock and state Sen. Mike Delph, have faves of 14% and 7% each.

ND-Sen, NM-Sen: This Politico article doesn’t actually contain any hard facts that are newsworthy, but it does contain one alarming sentence, that both Kent Conrad and Jeff Bingaman are “weighing retirement” (without anything beyond that). Conrad and Bingaman, though both long-timers, are still in their early 60s. Buried deep in the article is also a throwaway line that Jon Kyl is also the subject of retirement “speculation.”

NJ-Sen: That tea party push to have a recall election for Bob Menendez (despite, of course, the universally accepted legal principle that you can’t recall federal officials) seems to have finally died, courtesy of the New Jersey Supreme Court. I’m just surprised the case rose that far through the courts before, y’know, someone thought to crack open their 1L Con Law textbook, but the bright side is that every dollar right-wingers spend on pointless appellate legal fees is a dollar not spent on actually electing somebody. Menendez is up for a regularly scheduled election in 2012, anyway.

NV-Sen: Everyone seems in a fit of instant nostalgia for Sharron Angle today, with the revelation that in the course of the campaign she said “Sometimes dictators have good ideas” (in reference to Augusto Pinochet and privatized pension systems), and the leaked release of the ad that she cut that never got released, probably because it takes a minute to make a point that should take five seconds and because the 70s-disaster-flick-style overacting overshadows any possible message. (You can click here to see the ad, bearing in mind that it opens in Windows Media Player.) The real news that got leaked today that might impact the 2012 race, though, is that none other than John Ensign helped Sharron Angle prep for her debate by playing the part of Harry Reid. I wonder if that’ll be the last nail in the coffin for the reputed Reid/Ensign non-aggression pact?

RI-Sen: Add one more potential name to the roster for a Republican challenger to Sheldon Whitehouse: the state’s GOP chair, Giovanni Cicione (who has been encouraging outgoing Gov. Don Carcieri to run, as well as floating his own name as a last resort), is touting John Robitaille as a possible candidate. Robitaille (Carcieri’s former communications director) performed above expectations in the gubernatorial race in which he was supposed to be a sacrificial lamb, finishing second (though helped along by Frank Caprio’s last-minute implosion).

VA-Sen (pdf): PPP’s Virginia Senate poll had a GOP primary portion that just got released separately; right now, George Allen is the consensus pick, although that may have more to do with the ex-Gov. and ex-Sen.’s broad name rec compared with the rest of the field. Allen is at 46, with the very-unlikely-to-run Eric Cantor at 18, right-wing AG Ken Cuccinelli at 16, Lt. Gov. Bill Boling and ex-Rep. Tom Davis both at 4, and state Del. Bob Marshall (who almost sneaked into the 2008 Senate nomination) at 2.

NY-01, NY-25: Good news in the 1st, bad news in the 25th. Tim Bishop has made up some ground, as of the second day of absentee counting. Bishop picked up 108 votes on Randy Altschuler, cutting Altschuler’s lead down to 275, and that’s with Smithtown, Altschuler’s strongest area, having almost entirely reported. Bishop’s strongest turf is East Hampton, which will begin counting tomorrow. Ann Marie Buerkle, however, gained a small amount of ground in the 25th, contrary to expectations. Her lead is up to 824 votes, after a batch of small batch (230) of challenged ballots from Monroe County got opened and counted. The county to watch, though, will be Onondaga County, which is Dan Maffei’s base and where 7,000 absentees are yet to be counted.

Redistricting: There are three different redistricting articles out today that are worth a read. One is about Texas, where it seems like the GOP is extended about as far as it can go (thanks to victories in TX-23 and likely TX-27); compounding the problem there is something that I’ve been pointing out for years, which is that at least two, possibly three, of its expected four new seats are going to have to be VRA seats, seeing as how the vast majority of Texas’s growth in the past decade has been among Hispanics. Trying to limit the creation of new Hispanic-majority seats will only make it harder to protect Quico Canseco and Blake Farenthold.

There’s also a piece looking at Nevada, more specifically the fight within the Dem-controlled legislature about for whom to tailor NV-04 (which will probably be a Dem-leaning suburban district, conceding a GOP-leaning NV-03 to Joe Heck). Both state Senate majority leader Steven Horsford and new state Assembly speaker John Oceguera have their eyes on the new seat. Finally, there are questions in Florida about just who’s behind the lawsuit, fronted by a bipartisan coalition of Mario Diaz-Balart and Corrine Brown, to stop implementation of Amendment 6, the one bright spot from Florida on Election Day (a new initiative that makes gerrymandering more difficult). The Orlando Sentinel traces the money trail back to a number of state legislators’ groups, including one led by GOP state Sen. Don Gaetz, the guy who… big surprise… is tasked with leading redistricting for the state Senate.