GOP group launches redistricting site
The primary Republican organization responsible for coordinating the GOP’s redistricting strategy has launched a new web resource aimed at educating the public about the arcane decennial process.
The American Redistricting Project, funded by the Fair Lines Foundation, will be a repository for redistricting-related news and information, the foundation’s executive director, Adam Kincaid, said in an interview.
The Fair Lines Foundation is the nonprofit 501(c)3 arm of the National Republican Redistricting Trust (NRRT), the group run by Kincaid and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) to raise money and coordinate the GOP’s redistricting efforts both before and after the process kicks off next year with delivery of official Census Bureau population data.
Kincaid said the site would strive to be a nonpartisan aggregator of news and statistics, despite its partisan funders. He said he wanted to provide an alternative to groups like the Brennan Center for Justice, which advocates against gerrymandering and for nonpartisan redistricting.
“If you are interested in redistricting and you’re a college student or you are a reporter, you end up at the Brennan Center or you end up at a couple of blogs done by college professors, but there’s nothing from the conservative movement,” Kincaid said. “What we wanted to do was to fill that vacuum.”
“We are going to be very, very focused on making sure this is as nonpartisan as it possibly can be,” Kincaid said. “We want this to be the destination for people who are interested in redistricting.”
Kincaid said the site would eventually feature a blog for public education.
The site is a treasure trove for the small community of redistricting data nerds. It includes U.S. House election results and contemporary district maps for elections going back to 1962, along with information about each state’s redistricting process, direct democracy rules and the status of election-related litigation working its way through courts across the country.
The very existence of the NRRT and its Democratic counterpart, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NRDC), highlights the unprecedented degree to which redistricting has become a political battleground in the last decade. In earlier cycles, both parties organized their redistricting strategies through the Democratic or Republican national committees, efforts headed by a small coterie of specialist cartographers and demographers.
Setting up the committees independent of the national parties will allow them to raise millions of dollars to spend on litigation, ballot measures or other avenues designed to increase each party’s chances of controlling Congress in the decade ahead.
The NRDC, helmed by former Attorney General Eric Holder, has already doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to state legislative candidates across the country. The NRRT says it does not have any plans to get involved in legislative races — the domain of the Republican State Leadership Committee — but on Friday the group filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to form its own political action committee, the National Republican Redistricting PAC.
The PAC, Kincaid said, would give his group access to small-dollar donors who are increasingly crucial to political success. They plan to solicit donations through WinRed, a new vehicle created to counter the Democratic small-dollar powerhouse ActBlue.
“The Republican Party has moved to WinRed. It’s something everybody uses, and this gives us the ability to use the power of WinRed to reach people,” Kincaid said.