New Louisiana map sets up GOP primary battle

After weeks of wrangling between lawmakers in Louisiana and tension among the GOP members of the delegation in Washington, a new congressional map won approval from state legislators late Wednesday.

As expected, the map draws Republican Reps. Charles Boustany Jr. and Jeff Landry together in a new district that advantages Boustany.

The state must shed a congressional district ahead of 2012 and the new map will force Landry, a freshman Republican, into a district that includes much of the territory currently represented by Boustany. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has indicated that he will sign the plan into law.   

Throughout the debate over the re-draw, the majority of the delegation were behind a plan that put Landry and Boustany together, leaving the other GOP members of the delegation in safe districts.

But tensions ratcheted up after Boustany began to push a plan put forth by a Democratic state lawmaker, which would have created a much more competitive district for fellow GOP Rep. John Fleming. While it's not the plan that ultimately won approval, tensions could linger.

"I don't feel like I can trust anything he says," Fleming said of Boustany late last week. "Everything he told me, he reneged on."

Approval of the map came just as a special session of the State Legislature was about to wrap, which would have pushed a new congressional map off until next year. Over the past several days, a handful of members of the state's delegation, including Landry, publicly said a delay might be the preferred option. 

"I commend the legislature on finishing the difficult task of redistricting," Boustany said in a statement. "It has always been in the best interest of voters across the state to complete this and avoid uncertainty or confusion in the coming months."

Landry, who defeated a candidate endorsed by Boustany in a GOP primary last cycle, has said he intends to run again in 2012 no matter what. 

-Updated at 8:23 p.m.


GOP congressmen face Iowa redistricting

As a proposed redistricting plan moves closer to passage in the Iowa state legislature, Republican Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham will meet this week in an attempt to hash out their 2012 plans. 

The two Republicans are trying to decide to how to move forward should the map be approved and are hoping to avoid a 2012 primary battle. 

Iowa is losing a congressional district ahead of next year, and a new map that would pit two sets of incumbents against each other in 2012 could be approved by state lawmakers as early as Thursday. The proposed map also combines Democratic Reps. Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley, but Loebsack has already indicated that he would move out of the district rather than face a primary against Braley. 

One option under consideration on the Republican side, according to a GOP source in the state, is Latham moving into Rep. Leonard Boswell's (D-Iowa) district and running against the longtime Democrat rather than having to wage a primary campaign against King.

The proposed map cleared a state Senate committee Tuesday, moving it another step closer to passage.   

"No incumbent likes redistricting," King told The Ballot Box Tuesday, adding that the only ones who want to see a King-Latham primary battle are Iowa Democrats. "Any other scenario would be preferable to almost every Republican." 

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad still has veto power over the map should it win approval in the legislature and he has yet to put his full stamp of approval on the plan, but few lawmakers have raised any real objections to the map thus far. 

If the map does win passage, King said he expects that he and Latham will make a decision on how to move forward quickly.

"If you can produce an answer immediately upon knowing what the map is going to be, that's the best way to go," he said. "Get the answer out there and get on with whatever it is you have to do."


Rep. Donnelly blasts proposed congressional map; 2012 decision coming within 'weeks'

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) blasted a new congressional map proposed by Indiana lawmakers Monday that would make his district more Republican ahead of 2012.

The centrist Democrat, who survived a tough race in 2010 against Republican Jackie Walorski, said while he's confident a Democrat can win in the proposed new district, he's disappointed "because it appears that politics played into the drawing" of the new map.   

An Indiana legislative committee released the proposed map Monday, which, as expected, shifts several Republican-leaning areas into Donnelly's district while removing parts of Democratic-leaning counties. The proposed map is posted on the state legislature's website.

Donnelly referenced a plan already put forth by Democrats in the Indiana state Senate, which left Democratic-leaning LaPorte County in his congressional district.

"In the Republicans' map, LaPorte County is divided between the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts and Kosciusko County is divided between the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts," Donnelly said in a statement, arguing that the new district is gerrymandered to favor the GOP.

"Even though it appears that politics played a role in the drawing of this map, I am confident that a Democrat can win in the new 2nd Congressional District," Donnelly said, noting that he outperformed President Obama by 13 points in the 2nd District back in 2008.

"As for my future plans, my decision will ultimately be based on how I can best serve the people of this great state," he said. "I will soon be sitting down with my wife and children and expect to make a decision in the coming weeks." 

Walorski has already announced her intention to make another run for the seat next year and the map released Monday likely increases the possibility that Donnelly will opt for a statewide run. 

Donnelly has said he would wait on approval of new district boundaries before making an official decision on whether to run for reelection in 2012 or jump ship for a Senate or gubernatorial campaign.

Late last month, Donnelly indicated that he was leaning more toward a run for Senate in 2012 than a bid for the statehouse. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) is widely expected to jump into the governor's race; some Indiana Democrats see a Senate race as more winnable for the party next year, especially if State Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) knocks off Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) in the GOP primary.

-Updated at 2:35 p.m.


Iowa redistricting plan gaining favor in State Legislature

State lawmakers in Iowa are leaning toward supporting a plan to redraw the state's congressional district boundaries that would pair two sets of incumbents together ahead of 2012.

Two key legislative leaders told The Associated Press on Tuesday that state lawmakers have not raised significant objections to the proposal, with state House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D) saying he's "leaning ever so slightly toward the first map."

Iowa's nonpartisan redistricting commission proposed the new map last week, setting up the potential for two intra-party primary fights next year. Republican Reps. Steve King  and Tom Latham are drawn together in the new map, while Democratic Reps. David Loebsack and Bruce Braley could also have to fight for a single district. 

King told The Ballot Box last week that he's not making any contingency plans for 2012 until it becomes clear whether the map could actually get through the State Legislature. Ten years ago, lawmakers rejected the first map that was proposed, a possibility this time around as well.

Loebsack has already said he would likely opt to move and run in the 2nd district again, which would become an open seat under the proposed map, rather than run against Braley.

The map must be voted on by the State Legislature and either accepted or rejected — amending the map is not an option. Republican Gov. Terry Branstad also has veto power over any map that makes it through the Legislature.


Iowa Dem says he wants to avoid redistricting primary fight

Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) says he's willing to move ahead of 2012 in order to avoid a primary match-up with fellow Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley should new congressional district lines proposed Thursday be approved by state lawmakers.

A map put forth by Iowa's nonpartisan redistricting commission would pit two sets of incumbents against one another in 2012. Loebsack and Braley would be forced into the same district, as would Republican Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham.

The new map makes Loebsack's 2nd district an open seat, but the Democrat said if the map wins approval, he'd shift and run in the 2nd district again, rather than run against Braley.

"Given my past, my experience, what I think I've done for the southeast part of the state, my intent is to represent those people," Loebsack told the Quad City Times on Thursday.

King, meanwhile, was cautious Thursday in discussing the possibilities after the map emerged, insisting that he's not coming up with any 2012 contingencies unless it becomes clear state lawmakers might approve the plan.

"It doesn't pay for me to plan a contingency until I get a reading as to whether or not this might pass," King told The Ballot Box. "Until then, if I comment on what I might do, I'm commenting on a hypothetical that can only cause trouble."

Ten years ago, state lawmakers rejected the first redistricting map put forth, and they could do the same this time around. But, according to the Des Moines Register, there's no early sign that this map is dead on arrival. Many lawmakers fear that if they reject this one, a second map could be even worse for state lawmakers.  

If the legislature rejects the map, the state's redistricting commission has a little over a month to come up with a second map. Republican Gov. Terry Branstad also has veto power over any redistricting plan.


Iowa redistricting proposal sets up two intraparty primaries in 2012

Iowa's nonpartisan redistricting commission proposed a new map Thursday that would pit two sets of incumbents against one another in 2012, even though the state is only shedding a single Congressional seat.

The proposed map draws two incumbent Republicans and two incumbent Democrats into newly drawn districts, setting up the potential for two intraparty primary fights next year.  

The plan is just the first proposal, but some members of the state's congressional delegation are sure to take issue with it.

Republican Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham are drawn together in the new map, while Democratic Reps. Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley would also have to fight for a single district.

King told that he's not gaming out any 2012 plans until it's clear state lawmakers could approve the new map.

"It doesn't look like anything I would have drawn," said King, who is widely popular among conservatives in his district and around the nation. "Of all the ways you could draw a map, it's hard to configure one that would put us in the same district, but they managed to do that."

King said he hasn't yet spoken with Latham and said until and unless it becomes clear that the state legislature will approve the new map, "there's no reason to have a discussion."

The early expectation is that the plan will meet with significant Republican opposition given that Latham and King would have to battle it out in a GOP primary.

The proposed map leaves the state's new 2nd district as an open seat, which could pave the way for Christie Vilsack, the state's former first lady, who has hinted at a 2012 run for Congress.

The map will have to be voted on by the state legislature and either accepted or rejected — amending the map is not an option. According to The Associated Press, the state's redistricting commission would have 35 days to draw up a secondary plan if the one proposed Thursday is rejected by state lawmakers.
Even if the state legislature approves the plan, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad could veto it.


Redistricting will carve up Michele Bachmann's House district

The House district of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) must shed close to 100,000 voters ahead of 2012, the single biggest change that any of the state's eight Congressional districts will see in this year's redistricting process.  

Minnesota will remain at eight House districts, but detailed Census data for the state just released show that the districts of Bachmann and Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) must shed substantial numbers of voters. 

It's the scenario that political observers in the state expected from the start given the population estimates, but the release of the detailed data officially sets off a redistricting battle that could mean fewer Republican voters in Bachmann's district and stands to shift her 2010 opponent into a neighboring district.    


Georgia Republican brushes aside Dems' redistricting worries

Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston (R) said it was "premature" for state Democrats to complain about the redistricting process and warned the GOP could be more heavy handed when redrawing the boundaries.

Georgia Democratic lawmakers have cried foul over the state Republicans shifting responsibility for the details of redistricting from the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government, which is nonpartisan, to a Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office that will be advised by a top Republican lawyer.

Georgia has gained a congressional district as a result of population growth, which will complicate the process.

But Kingston said there was no plan to dramatically tilt the boundaries in his party's favor and noted that Democrats didn't use a soft touch when Gov. Roy Barnes (D) was in power after the last Census in 2000. 

"You might tilt your side here or there to protect an incumbent or two, but I think the Democrats are being a bit premature," he told The Ballot Box. "And I'm just wondering where they were when Roy Barnes was making ink splatters all over the state?

"We had an opportunity to act like Roy Barnes and the Democrats did, but we have not taken that," the congressman added. "We resisted that. We've showed that you could actually do it tempered and be fair."

Kingston labeled the Democrats' complaints sour grapes after years of coming up short on Election Day.

"If they got a gripe that thing's being too partisan in the state of Georgia, it's called the general electorate," he said. "We've gone from being a Democrat state to a Republican state and they know that and can't stand it." 


Ohio redistricting battle impacts Senate race calculus

The impending redistricting battle in Ohio appears to be a factor in the slowly developing race against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Brown's numbers show he's vulnerable in 2012 but no Republican has yet to take a serious step toward challenging the freshman senator.

Ohio will lose two congressional seats before next year so the slightest signal that a GOP House member is seriously contemplating a run could put an unwanted spotlight on their district as Republicans face the difficult task of keeping the 13 out of 18 seats they hold.

Two Republicans mentioned as potential Brown challengers come from within the ranks of the state's congressional delegation -- Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve LaTourette -- and while neither will completely rule out a run, both are busy downplaying the possibility.

"I'm back in the majority, I'm a friend of the new speaker, so life's pretty good," LaTourette told The Hill’s Ballot Box, noting his plum spot on the Appropriations Committee. "The Senate thing will take care of itself whenever. I'm just not even thinking about it right now. No rush."