Skip to comments.4th district map to get OK today
Posted on 12/04/2006 12:41:48 PM PST by Dr. Zzyzx
Even though there's no guarantee Utah will get a fourth congressional seat anytime soon, lawmakers are meeting today in special session to approve a new redistricting map for the state.
"We're doing our part to keep the momentum going on this important issue," Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s spokesman, Mike Mower, said.
The governor called the Legislature into special session to come up with a map in time for the lame-duck Congress to take action. But congressional action is becoming increasingly unlikely given the amount of other issues Congress has to tackle in the coming days. Still, Huntsman has said a pending bill in Congress linking Utah's fourth seat to full House voting privileges for Washington, D.C., is the state's best chance to gain additional representation in the U.S. House before the 2010 Census.
So, lawmakers reluctantly agreed to draft a new map that divides the state into four congressional districts by quickly putting together a redistricting committee and holding public hearings throughout the state last week. Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, co-chairman of the redistricting committee, said while some other legislators may want to change the resulting committee proposal, known as Plan L, he believes it will pass with strong bipartisan support.
The 2001 Legislature passed a four-seat plan just in case the U.S. Supreme Court, in a challenge by Utah, gave the state another U.S. House member. But the high court turned down Utah's petition. Bramble said Plan L is "by far" a better plan than the four-seat plan adopted in 2001.
"We're not starting from zero. We have a plan we don't like," Bramble said. "We've proven we can do better than that with the commitment from Republicans and Democrats to find common ground."
The Legislature should adopt Plan L on Monday, Bramble said, because if lawmakers don't take action, then there's no chance the lame-duck session of Congress will take up the issue later in the week.
Bramble said it's not clear what will happen once the Legislature acts. "We're getting mixed signals. We don't control what they do back there. What we do control is whether we have in statute a plan we think is the best we can do."
Members of the congressional committee considering the bill that would give Utah a fourth seat have made it clear they wanted to see a new redistricting map. The 2001 map was widely seen as unfair to the state's lone Democrat in Congress, Rep. Jim Matheson. If Congress doesn't act this year, there's some question whether the new, Democrat-controlled U.S. House and Senate convening in January would be willing to consider a fourth seat for Utah. The chances of the state seeing a fourth seat anytime soon would be hurt further if the new Congress had to wait for Utah lawmakers to hash out a redistricting plan during their general session that begins in mid-January.
There will likely be several amendments to Plan L or new redistricting maps debated at Monday's special session, which starts at 10:30 a.m. on Capitol Hill. Already, Rep. Ben Ferry, R-Corinne, has put forth a redrawn Plan L that puts rural Morgan County into Matheson's redrawn 2nd District, which is not primarily Salt Lake County. And Sen. Mike Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, will have amendments that keep his hometown entirely in a single district, not split as in Plan L. Yet to be determined is exactly how a fourth seat would be filled. The governor has said there would have to be a special election early next year for all four seats because of all the boundary changes.
The governor has said figuring out the details of that election which Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert has said could cost $6 million can wait. However, he has asked lawmakers during the special session to consider making technical fixes to two previously passed bills.
The democrats are afraid Utah could redraw their map so that, with 4 districts, a democrat couldn't win in ANY of the districts, giving the republicans TWO extra seats instead of just one to balance the democrat seat in DC.
The republicans meanwhile are just afraid someone will be stupid enough to pass this rediculous plan to grant DC a vote in the house.
That can't be done without a constitutional amendment.
Matheson will be able to find at least one district where he can win. He was heavily redistricted in 2002 and still survived in a ~70% Bush district.
From what state will Utah take away their new seat?
North Carolina. We got our 13th seat at the loss of Utah's 4th. The 13th district is where Vernon Robinson ran, and lost, last year. It's safely Democrat.
Nothing will change until after the 2010 census.
UT has often had a strange habit of electing 'Rat Congressmembers even in heavily GOP districts. Although Matheson barely won reelection in '02, there were some that said he didn't draw the strongest possible opponent that year, nor in '04 or '06. Presumably he'll remain until either Hatch or Bennett retires to try to take a run for the Senate. A 'Rat hasn't won a Senate race there since 1970. Personally, I oppose this 4th seat move solely because this is an attempt to give DC a full-blown voting House member, which strikes me as Constitutionally dubious. If we're going to empower DC, why not give the Conservative GOP Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico a vote, too ?
Should be a correction there. No state will lose a seat with this move, the addition of 1 member from UT and Holmes from DC means the total number of House members would increase to 437 until January 2013 when it would return to 435.
NC will stay at 13 districts (and 15 electoral votes) following the 2010 Census.
Where will UT's new seat come from?
Out of thin air. It's not coming from ANY state. See post #9.
This bill would expand the size of the House of Representatives from 435 to 437 -- no state would lose a seat. Note that this new Utah seat is NOT a lock for the GOP. Democrat Jan Graham is almost certain to run for a seat, and is one of the more popular politicians in the state.
A stupid bill in any case.
US Constitution, Article 1, Section 2: That The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.
First of all, the Utah legislature had already drawn a map for 4 members in 2002---they were hoping that the Supreme Court would rule that it, and not North Carolina, would get the 435th congressional district allocated (Utah got robbed, but that's a story for another day). This whole thing smells of a publicity stunt to try to draw attention to that outrageous (and unconstitutional) bill by Virginia RINO Tom Davis.
If Congress can give a House vote to the delegate from DC, why couldn't it give a House vote to people selected by the House leadership? Surely Pelosi's staffers should each get a vote; they have no less of a mandate from a "State" than does Eleanor Holmes-Norton. And if Congress can decide to add an extra Representative after the Census numbers come in and it's clear what state will get that Representative, it can just as easily reduce the size to 434 or 433 if the last two states that would get extra Representatives are from the opposing party. This corrupt maneuver by Davis violates Article I, Section 2, Clause 1 (which is, like, in the first page of the Constitution, so Davis wouldn't need to read very far before reaching it), which states that the House shall be composed of members elected by "the several States," not by the States and whomever else Tom Davis wishes to let vote; the bill also violates the Apportionment Clause by moving the goal line after the Census has been held. If the House and Senate pass this legislative turd, and President Bush gets some of Karl Rove's famous advice ("Mr. President, voters in DC will become Republican if you sign it"), the courts should immediately enjoin it from going into effect.
I think that it is a travesty that the U.S. citizens who reside in DC do not get to elect representatives to the legislative body that approves laws that affects them, just as it is a travesty that the same thing happens to the U.S. citizens who live in Puerto Rico, Guam, the USVI and the Northern Mariana Islands. I think DC should become a State of the Union, but not under its present boundaries, which leave it as a shrinking city that is unfit to be a State. DC and its close-in neighbors in MD and VA should become the State of New Columbia, and since Tom Davis's Fairfax County would be in the new state, he can seek Democrat and RINO votes when he runs for the Senate in that Democrat wasteland. Meanwhile, Virginia would become a safely Republican state in both federal and state races, and Maryland would become a Republican state in gubernatorial and Senate races and a swing state in presidential races. See http://auh2orepublican.blogspot.com/2005/08/fair-and-reasonable-alternative-to-dc.html, which explains how both DC residents and the GOP would benefit from such an arrengement.
As for the other U.S. territories, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Vrgin Islands (joint population of a bit over 4 million) should be admitted as a joint state, and Guam, the Northern Marianas and the small island territories of the Pacific (combined population of a bit less than 250,000) should become part of the State of Hawaii (residents of American Samoa are not U.S. citizens, so I would leave them out of this, at least for now). Puerto Rico would probably be a swing state in federal elections, sine it is similar to Louisiana with its socially conservative, economically populist electorate; the Democrat-leaning voters of the USVI would only comprise around 2.5% of voters in the combined state. As for the new Hawaii, it would be made more Republican by the addition of the Northern Marianas and especially Guam, along with the military personnel in the other islands. President Bush got 45% in Hawaii in 2004, and the race would have been much closer had Guamanians and other islanders been allowed to vote (Guamanians hold a straw poll of the presidential candidates on Election Day, and President Bush beat Kerry by 65%-35%).
U.S. citizens living under the U.S. flag should have the right to elect Senators and Representatives that pass the laws to which they are subject and to vote for the President who executes such laws and could send them to war. My suggestions are not the only way to fix the problem, but I think they are the fairest way to do so.
Let me try that link again:
The House makes its own rules, and Separation of Powers gives the House broad leeway in determining its membership and size. I don't see a court intervening if the Dems want to give EHN a vote in the District. And that's the hard one -- expanding to give an extra vote to Utah is totally above board.
Puerto Rico has been given several opportunities to vote themselves into statehood and they've declined. What should be done is we should cut them loose of the government tit.. As for the District, it should just be ceded back to Maryland, which would thereby gain one House seat, so they can quit their whining.
BTW, it seems counterintuitive, but giving DC to Maryland would probably be a wash in the House. That's because DC isn't populous enough to comprise one House seat on its own, therefore they would have to shift about 200,000 people out of the adjoining MD-08 or MD-04 districts (or both). This would almost certainly not leave enough Democrats in the rest of the state to make up six hard left districts. At the very least you'd quite likely end up with a pure toss up district in addition the two solid GOP seats.
"The House makes its own rules, and Separation of Powers gives the House broad leeway in determining its membership and size. I don't see a court intervening if the Dems want to give EHN a vote in the District."
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that excerpt.
"expanding to give an extra vote to Utah is totally above board."
"Puerto Rico has been given several opportunities to vote themselves into statehood and they've declined. What should be done is we should cut them loose of the government tit."
As I noted, the math is quirky because DC does not have a large enough population to comprise one CD in a nine-district Maryland apportionment.
First of all, bear in mind that DC is losing population. Its 2000 census population was 572,059 and its 2010 projected population is 529,785. In 2020 DC's population is projected to be 480,540.
Second, it's quite obvious that adding DC to Maryland would mainly add Democrats, but if they are packed into one or two House seats, as they certainly will be, and if they have to pull even more Democrats to round out the seats, as it would seem they certainly will, that leaves the more marginal areas at the borders of the 1st and 6th to comprise a substantial part of a new district.
The reason for the quirk is because the population of Maryland's districts would actually shrink. Based on the 2000 Census and on the 2010 and 2020 projections, here is the population of one Maryland district versus one Maryland + DC district.
Maryland: 5,296,486 in 8 districts of 662,060
MD + DC: 5,868,545 in 9 districts of 652,060
Maryland: 5,904,970 in 8 districts of 738,121
MD + DC: 6,434,755 in 9 districts of 714,972
Maryland: 6,497,626 in 7 districts of 928,232
MD + DC: 6,978,166 in 8 districts of 872,270
In 2010, according to the projections, DC will need to pick up 185,187 people from adjoining Maryland territory to round out a district. The heavily GOP MD-01 Eastern Shore district and MD-06 Panhandle district would both need to shrink into even more heavily GOP districts. Regardless of where you get the voters to round out a DC anchored district, or whether you split DC down the middle into two districts, you will still be setting adrift roughly 40,000 mostly conservative voters that would need to get redistributed into the six currently Dem districts.
That may not produce a wash (i.e., trading a heavily Dem district anchored by DC for a third GOP seat elsewhere) but there would be at least 50/50 odds I think. The MD-02 and MD-03 districts already leave fairly little room for error (they were both 45% Bush in 2004) and you simply don't have the leeway to absorb that many conservative precincts out of both MD-01 and MD-06 without creating a toss up seat somewhere.
Great in theory, but about as far from political reality as you can possibly get. What makes you think the Dems in Congress would ever in a million years agree to a plan that would lead to a net loss of Dem electoral votes and Senate seats? Additionally, any change in the boundaries of a state must be approved by the legislature. Assuming Virginia might be persuaded to go along (extremely doubtful) there's no way in hell that Maryland's Democratic legislature would. Finally, the Washingtonians wouldn't want it, because they'd be in a state of 5 million or whatever, where suburbanites would hold all the power.
Why can't Utah just wait for the 2010 census?
PS. And note that, if current growth projections hold, then if indeed the 2010 census redistricting gave Maryland (plus DC) seven Dem seats then almost certainly one would be lost in 2020. That's because Maryland would lose a seat at that time, and if current voting patterns also hold, the Eastern Shore district and the Panhandle district would still remain GOP no matter what.
But that's a lot of ifs and we're getting way ahead of ourselves! Let's just leave it at this: The most viable plan to give DC a vote in Congress is to just cede it back to Maryland. At worse that would result in a D pickup of one House seat and nothing more. At best the GOP picks up a seat (if the new DC seat comes at the expense of a Dem seat elsewhere, say in California or New York, and the GOP also picks up a third seat in north-central Maryland). I can live with that!
It's just dicking around with maps and data for fun. No one expects it would really happen.
I know you know this, but there's something a little silly about projecting current voting patterns in northern Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County from 2004 out until 2020. We're on somewhat flimsy ground projecting demographics, even.
Similarly, I wouldn't be surprised if some political paradigm shift sends the wealthy suburbs in Montgomery County back to a reconstituted Republican party some time after 2012.
You're assuming that GOP-leaning areas will be placed in marginal districts, when MD's Dem redistricters would probably place them in overwhelmingly Dem districts. For example, they could draw a black-majority CD starting in PG County and going east into Calvert, Dorchester and Wicomico Counties, and a second black-majority CD starting in eastern DC and taking in part of PG and then Charles, St. Mary's, Somerset and Worcester Counties. That wouldn't leave too many GOP areas to place into two CDs, or maybe even into one CD if the cities of Hagerstown and Frederick were connected to parts of Montco and western DC to form a Democrat CD that takes in parts of Bartlett's CD.
Congressional Democrats would probably bet on the smaller MD voting Democrat, pointing to 1992, 1996 and 2000, and that would give Democrats a 16-11 EV advantage as compared to the current 13-13 tie. They would also assume that MD would elect 2 Dem Senators, as would New Columbia, giving them a 4-2 advantage in Senators (as opposed to the usual 2-2 deadlock under current boundaries, and no worse than the 3-1 advantage they currently have after their freak Senate win in VA).
DC residents would be far better off under New Columbia than under the alternatives (assuming that DC statehood is an impossibility, which it is), since they don't get congressional representation or a decent tax base by staying a federal district and they would be completely ignored in the political process if DC was returned to Maryland (remember, MD politicians consider the DC suburbs foreign territory, so you can imagine how they would treat DC). In a state of New Columbia, DC would be the central focus of political and economic attention, since most residents of the new state would work directly or indirectly for the federal government (many of them in DC itself). I think that, after 200 years of disenfranchisement, DC voters would jump at the chance of forming part of a state of New Columbia.
You're correct that the hardest part of getting the proposal approved is the apprehension from the VA and MD state legislatures. The DC suburbs form an important part of the tax base of each state, although culturally its residents are quite different from those of the rest of the state. But I think that Northern Virginians, including their state legislators, would rather form part of a DC-centered state than one whose political power lies mostly in the Richmond area, Hampton Roads, Souhtside and Appalachia, and that state legislators from the rest of the state would be willing to get those areas out of their hair (especially since they'd keep taxpayers in suburban Loudon and Prince William Counties).
Maryland is trickiest of all, of course, since its heavily Dem legislature may be unwilling to turn the state into a swing state. The trick would be for DC suburbanites to take the initiative to form part of New Columbia, and legislators tired of that whole "superconnector" debate and other suburban pet issues may be willing to let them go. A "Keep Maryland for the Marylanders" campaign complete with Chesapeake Bay crabs and Pimlico Race Course, pointing out the advantages of a smaller, less "federal," Maryland, would be helpful as well.
I think the odds of New Columbia being acceptable to all sides are not as low as they are for the return of DC to MD would be.
Concerning the possibility that DC would be retroceded (the way Arlington was, a long time ago). DC had 572,000 people in the 2000 census (but is now down a bit). This is a bit below the average for U.S. Congressional seats (647,000). Maryland, has a bit above the national average in its Congressional districts (on average 663,000), so that it would make sense to simply retrocede DC to Maryland and award Maryland one more seat, increasing the size of the House to 436 seats. The state of Maryland would need to re-draw its lines (state legislature as well as Congressional), so as to move something like 100,000 to the district (if that was what they wanted to do). I suppose they'd try to keep the black opportunity district involving Prince Georges County intact (this is to the north and east of DC), so they would get the additional voters from Montgomery County (to the north and west of DC), and then shift other lines here and there. Possibly, this would make the district north and east of Baltimore, formerly represented by Bob Erlich and now represented by a Democrat, more competitive; or maybe the district including Anne Arundel County formerly represented by Ben Cardin; or maybe the district in "southern Maryland" represented by Steny Hoyer. But, I doubt much of anything would change in any of the Maryland districts except that lines of the district mainly involving Montgomery County would be shifted a bit. Retrocession would not require a Constitutional Amendment (it didn't with Arlington), just a pact between the federal government and the state of Maryland. Any reasonable pact would fly through the Congress and the state of Maryland (both being controlled by the Democrats), and get the President's signature. On the other hand, eliminating the special 3 electors for the district would require a Constitutional Amendment, so that the pact might be made conditional on that. The concept of a federal district, while interesting at the time of the founding, is just not as important as the principles of "no taxation without representation," and of "one man, one vote."
By the way, as an open seat, MD-03 was shockingly uncompetitive this year. Yes, everything was aligned for good Democrat results, including the sitting rep running for Senate, the retiring senator's sun running for the House, and overall a good environment for the Democrats; but for the Republicans to fail to field a viable candidate and to only take 33% of the vote indicates that the mapmakers knew what they were doing when they drew this seat.
Why do you believe DC statehood to be an impossibility if Democrats get the trifecta in Congress and the Presidency?
"Why do you believe DC statehood to be an impossibility if Democrats get the trifecta in Congress and the Presidency?"
"Retrocession would not require a Constitutional Amendment (it didn't with Arlington), just a pact between the federal government and the state of Maryland."
The GOP didn't even try to take that seat; I guess the party preferred to concentrate on the governorship and open Senate seat. The first I heard of the GOP talking about the MD-03 was on the week prior to the election, and obviously it was merely disinformation to see if the Democrats would get distracted from the gubernatorial and Senate races.
I do remember the debate in the first Clinton term, and I think the political situation has changed so much that Democrats would jump at the chance to add D.C. to their electoral family. Back when you had seemingly permanent Democrat majorities in the House, and both chambers included many Democrats from districts with little in common with D.C., it's not surprising that they didn't want to go to the mat for the District.
Admitting D.C. as a state wouldn't require an amendment, and once that was done, who's going to stand up to defend the anomaly of the 3 extra EVs?
Your idea of New Columbia is a neat thought experiment, but I don't think it has any potential as a serious compromise, no offense. D.C. would rather continue to fight for statehood; they aren't about to give up the goal of self-government in order to be 15% of the population of a new state. Maryland won't do it and neither will any of the jurisdictions in either state, which have nothing more in common with D.C. than a federal preference for Democrats.
Didn't you talk about the calculus of a Republican win in MD-3 a few weeks before the election?
Anyway, I agree that the Republicans never took it seriously and that 33% is misleadingly low. That said, Cardin was known to be abandoning the seat very early in the cycle, before anyone knew the election cycle was going to tilt so strongly 'RAT, so it's surprising they didn't even make a feint toward contesting the seat if it's as competitive as some would argue.
I don't know what makes a 45% Bush seat (2004) as uncompetitive as this one turned out to be. But I don't know Anne Arundel County.
You're right, I did write about MD-03 after the NRCC mentioned the seat as one that could go our way---it actually made the claim the day before the election, not the week before, making it's claim even more risible.
This is what I wrote on November 6:
"President Bush got 45%, not 48%, in the MD-03 in 2004; I'm not sure about what Ehrlich got in 2002, but I think it was probably between 51%-54%. Still, I think Ehrlich and Steele have an excellent chance of winning tomorrow, and if they do so Ehrlich will have carried the MD-03 while Steele would have come close (he's running against the district's current Congressman, so it would be very difficult for him to carry it). The RATs are running Senator Sarbanes's son, who has name ID but not much else, and I have long thought that this race should be on the radar screen (actually, the district has been on my radar screen since the Democrats approved that grotesque gerrymander in 2001 and put too many Republicans into the district). I'm glad to hear that the NRCC has not given up on it."
I was wrong about how Ehrlich and Steele would do in the election, and about the competitiveness of the MD-03 race. I assumed that the NRCC wouldn't have mentioned it as a possibly upset unless the race was close, but obviously that was not the case. As I wrote today, I think the GOP was trying to confuse MD Democrats, maybe trick them into conducting a last-minute poll in the MD-03 instead of getting out the vote in Montco, PG and Baltimore City.
For the record, I think that the Democrats made a mistake when they drew the MD-08 to be so heavily Democrat and left the Cardin, Ruppersberger and Hoyer districts as no more Democrat than the state as a whole. The Democrats could have probably drawn 7 districts that were more heavily Democrat than the state while drawing one ultra-GOP CD in northern MD, but they couldn't have made the MD-08 give Bush only 33% in 2000. I don't think it was necessary to draw a 67% Dem MD-08 to defeat Morella; splitting Montco into several districts, drwaing in voters whom Morella had never represented, would have done the trick.
Didn't need to correct me on the 3 electors ("On the other hand, eliminating the special 3 electors for the district would require a Constitutional Amendment, so that the pact might be made conditional on that."). I really don't think it would a problem to pass the amendment.
As to whether the Democrats would want to retrocede, on the one hand, this wasn't much of an issue in the past, so things could change. But, Maryland doesn't want DC, because it's a financial sink hole, and might have to be offered an inducement. And, as far as Democrats are concerned, if they can get an extra Congress-entity out of DC without retrocession, why would they have to bother with retrocession? They already have the 2 Senators who would be involved. The Democrats have to get it into their heads that we're not giving them a Congress-entity without accepting the responsibility of self-government, then they might take the offer.
Thanks for the post. I agree, they pushed way too hard to get rid of Morella. They could have made MD-6 more competitive than it is if they had tried to defeat her on the merits and not by drowning her in Democrats.
They couldn't defeat Morella on the merits in Montco, but throw in some voters from other counties and she'd be toast. Morella was like Charlie Stenholm in West Texas---his district was already like 65% Republican, and the way to beat him, as DeLay new, was not to throw more Republicans at him, but *different* Republicans. TX Redistricters split Stenholm's CD in two and he really had no chance against Neugebauer.
Maybe I'm biased because I live in New England, but I think she wouldn't have made it through this year. 2002 and 2004, absolutely. But no one saw Jim Leach losing.
The Dems didn't so much go out of their way to get Morrella as they stopped short of trying to get Bartlett. The MD-08 district had to lose precincts in the 2000 round of redistricting and whether they took the southwest half of MontCo or the southeast half they would've ended up with a more heavily Dem district than the MD-08 district of the Nineties. Now, if it weren't for Morrella the Dems could've tried being more adventurous and went after Bartlett, but as it were MD-08 is a fairly regular district in terms of geography.
The real contortions were with MD-02 and MD-03, and that, of course, was to ensure that the Ehrlich seat would also go Dem:
I personally rather doubt the Dems could wring another seat out of Maryland. I don't see how you get either MD-06 or MD-01 to majority Dem without making one of the six Dem seats a very difficult hold.