Missouri House overrides Nixon veto of redistricting plan

Lawmakers in Missouri's state House have voted to override a gubernatorial veto of a redistricting plan approved by the legislature late last month. 

The successful override vote in the House all but guarantees the new congressional map, which Missouri Democrats have slammed as unfairly partisan, will become law.

It's now up to the Missouri state Senate to hold an override vote, and Republicans have more than enough votes in that chamber to override Gov. Jay Nixon's (D) veto. The veto is likely to take place by Wednesday afternoon. 


Dems urge veto of Missouri redistricting plan

State lawmakers in Missouri have approved a new congressional map, but Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is under pressure from fellow Democrats to veto the plan.

The Democratic Caucus in the state House sent a letter to Nixon after the plan was approved Wednesday, arguing it stacks the deck against Democrats and that it deserves a gubernatorial veto.

The new map eliminates Rep. Russ Carnahan's (D) district and places the entire city of St. Louis into the district of Rep. Lacy Clay (D). Both Democrats have denounced the plan.

In passing the bill Wednesday, the Republican-led legislature has enough time to override a Nixon veto before the end of the legislative session on May 13. But it's unclear whether Republicans have the votes to do it.


Squeezed out by Iowa map, Latham will challenge Boswell

Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) announced Friday that he will move to Iowa's 3rd Congressional District ahead of next year and take on eight-term incumbent Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) rather than face a primary with fellow Republican Rep. Steve King.

Latham's decision comes after state lawmakers in Iowa approved a new map Thursday that puts Latham and King in the same congressional district for 2012. The two Republicans were anxious to avoid a primary fight in 2012, and the party sees a Latham-Boswell race as winnable for the GOP. 

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad announced Friday that he will sign the redistricting plan into law. 

"I have never let map boundaries block the great honor I have felt in representing the interests of all Iowans in the United States Congress," Latham said in a statement Friday.

Boswell, meanwhile, told The Ballot Box earlier this week that he's ready for a matchup with Latham, promising the Republican a tough race.

"I live in Polk County, in the capital city," Boswell said. "That's my base, and whatever gets attached to it, so be it. But I'm not going anywhere."

The longtime Democrat, who survived a contested race in 2010, said he's been conditioned to expect a tough battle every year, adding that his new district will have "half the counties I've served before anyway."

The National Republican Congressional Committee praised Latham in a statement Friday as "a proven conservative leader" and pledged support in his race against Boswell. 

“The NRCC is committed to re-electing every House Republican Member through our Patriot Program, which empowers House Republicans with the strategies and resources to stay on offense against Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats," NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said in a statement. "We look forward to supporting Tom Latham as he takes on a new opportunity for Republican victory in 2012.”

Latham's decision leaves the new 4th District to King for 2012.

"Having represented nearly half of the new Fourth District since 2002, I look forward to continuing to represent the interests of northwest Iowa in Congress, and I am looking forward to building new relationships in new communities across north central Iowa," King said in a statement Friday.

Of Latham, he said, "I am pleased that the residents of the southern part of my current district will have the opportunity to choose Tom Latham as their representative in Congress.

-Updated at 12:35 p.m.


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.