Alabama congressional map gets Justice approval

The Justice Department has given its approval to a new layout for Alabama's congressional districts, clearing the way for a map that makes reelection a better bet for the state's seven House members.

Although Alabama didn't lose or gain any seats during the once-per-decade redistricting process, it adjusted its lines due to changes in population. The state has six Republicans in the House and one Democrat, who represents a majority-minority district.

Alabama is one of a number of states that must get federal pre-clearance for their maps because of a history of discriminating against minority voters.


Gov. Patrick signs new congressional map for Massachusetts

Gov. Deval Patrick (D) signed into law a new map that drops the number of congressional districts in Massachusetts from 10 to nine, his office confirmed.

The map Patrick signed creates the state's first majority-minority district and shores up a number of incumbents among the state's all-Democratic congressional delegation.

Massachusetts lost one seat in the House due to slower-than-average population growth in the once-per-decade redistricting process. But a serendipitous retirement by Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.) spared Democrats the ugly process of pitting two incumbents against each other in a primary.

Although Massachusetts Reps. Bill Keating (D) and Stephen Lynch (D) were both drawn into the same district, Keating will be able to run in another district, where he owns a vacation home.

- This post was updated at 6:01 p.m.


Mass. lawmakers issue new congressional map

State lawmakers in Massachusetts unveiled a new draft congressional map on Monday that pits two incumbent House members against each other, but also gives one an escape hatch.

The homes of Massachusetts Reps. Bill Keating (D) and Stephen Lynch (D) are both in the newly redrawn 8th congressional district. But Keating owns a vacation home in what will be the 9th district, clearing the way for him to run there instead.

While the map made major changes, including expanding the state's only majority-minority district, there won't be the same fight over partisan balance of power seen in other states undergoing redistricting, because every member of the state's House delegation is a Democrat.

Massachusetts is losing one House seat due to slower-than-average population growth in the once-per-decade reapportionment and redistricting process that follows the U.S. Census.

That led many in the Bay State to fear that two sitting members would be forced to run for one slot. But Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.) spared his colleagues that dilemma by announcing in October that he will retire.


DCCC Chairman: Impeach Gov. Brewer

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) should be impeached for interfering in Arizona's redistricting process, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said on Friday.

"I think the people of Arizona should consider impeaching Jan Brewer for what she did," said Israel, who also offered an alternative way forward. "Gov. Brewer should think about impeaching herself."

Arizona's bipartisan redistricting commission — approved by voters in 2000 — issued a draft map in October that Republicans didn't like. On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled state Senate gave its blessing to Brewer's order for the chairwoman of that commission to be thrown out, leaving the redistricting process in chaos.

Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson called the Democrats' reaction "over the top" and said it demonstrated a willingness to ignore the Arizona Constitution and hijack congressional districts.

"The people of Arizona knew what they were doing when they specifically entrusted in the governor and state Senate an oversight role for redistricting," Benson said. "Gov. Brewer called out the [Democrats'] misconduct and stopped them dead in their tracks."


Ohio congressional map stalls as 'unholy alliance' falters

Republicans in Ohio fell eight votes short of fast-tracking a new congressional map through the state House on Thursday, leaving the future of redistricting efforts in limbo.

The new map will instead go through the committee process, the Columbus Dispatch reported, and Democrats have already been working to overturn a previous GOP map passed earlier in the year through a voter referendum.

Republicans had hoped to avoid the referendum by offering a new map that could muster more Democratic support. But the Democratic leader in Ohio's Republican-controlled House called the changes offered "generally not significant.”

The inability for Republicans to get the map to the House floor also represented a failure of the so-called "unholy alliance" between the GOP and African-American Democrats, whereby Republicans tried to pick off votes from black Democrats by offering them majority-minority districts in a map that was a net negative for Democrats statewide.

One unlikely advocate who was supporting the initial Republican-drawn map was Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who shocked Democrats by launching robo-calls over the weekend to urge state lawmakers to back the map, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.


DOJ approves new NC congressional map

The Department of Justice has given its blessing to North Carolinas new congressional map, over objections from Democrats and other groups who said the map disenfranchised black voters.

While the map could still be challenged in court, that will be made much more difficult now that the federal government has approved the map.

The Attorney General does not interpose any objection to the specified changes, wrote Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez.

States with a history of discriminating against minorities must have new maps pre-cleared by the Justice Department during the once-per-decade redistricting process, according to the Voting Rights Act.

While the Justice Department was charged only with clearing the map on racial discrimination matters, the map is under heightened scrutiny after it became clear on Tuesday that a technical snafu had left some voters without an assigned district.

Changes in North Carolinas map that would make some districts more competitive could lead to as many as four Republican pickups in the state.


Gov. Brewer threatens impeachment for Arizona redistricting panel

Following through on an earlier promise not to stay silent on Arizona's new congressional map, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer threatened to impeach members of the independent commission that drew the map.

Brewer's threat marked the latest scuffle in the partisan saga over Arizona's map, which the GOP has called gerrymandered and Democrats have called a return to a fair, competitive state of play after years of disproportional Republican influence.

Invoking the so-called "nuclear option," Brewer gave the five commissioners until Monday to respond to a litany of allegations she has lodged against them. Unless Brewer is pleased with their response, she can initiate impeachment proceedings, which would stand a major chance of securing the two-thirds majority needed to clear the Republican-controlled state Senate.

If commissioners or their chairman are impeached, the delicate map-drawing process would likely start over from scratch.


DOJ: Perry signed discriminatory congressional map in Texas

The new map for congressional districts in Texas signed by Gov. Rick Perry (R) discriminates against Hispanic voters, the Department of Justice said in a federal court filing.

The Obama administration is opposing implementation of the map and asking the court to stop it. The filing followed a review of the map by the federal attorneys that found that almost one-half million Hispanics would live in districts where they would be unable to elect a minority candidate.

"The state chose not to propose any new additional minority ability-to-elect districts and removed hundreds of thousands of minority voters from districts in which they could elect candidates of choice," even though Texas is getting four new House seats due largely to Hispanic population growth, the Justice Department wrote. "This suggests both possible dilution as well as possible retrogression of minority voting strength in Texas."

Texas is one of many states still completing the once-per-decade redistricting process that follows the U.S. Census. Under the Voting Rights Act, the federal government has oversight authority over maps in states with a history of discriminating against minorities through the voting process.


Arizona map shake-up benefits Democrats

The new congressional map released by Arizona's bipartisan redistricting commission appears to give Democrats a major boost, buttressing some Democratic seats, making some Republican seats more competitive and heightening the prospect that sitting Republicans will go head-to-head in 2012.

"It's Democrats' dream map. It means Democrats have a shot at five districts, whether or not Obama is winning or losing reelection," said David Wasserman, House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

Three Democrats and five Republicans currently represent Arizona, but the state is gaining a seat due to population growth since the last census one decade ago.

The new 9th district will include parts of Phoenix and part of the city's suburbs, and is almost evenly split among Democrats, Republicans and independents. It will include the home of Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), but he is expected to depart that district for the more Republican 6th district, where he could face a primary contest with Rep. Dave Schweikert, another freshman Republican who has already told supporters he plans to run there.