From Redistricting/Reapportionment

Libertarian Support Dissolves at the Polls

For all the speculation of a Libertarian candidate pushing two of the nation’s most-watched political races into a runoff, neither Andrew Hunt or Amanda Swafford were ever a factor in Tuesday night’s elections.

Libertarian support dissolved completely at the polls, allowing both Gov. Nathan Deal and David Perdue to cruise to comfortable victories.

As a result, Democrats in Georgia will continue to wander in the political wilderness for at least the next decade. Even with two election cycles between now and 2020, Democrats will not be able to gain enough clout under the Gold Dome to play an influential role in the next big political battle – redistricting, as mandated every time a Census is conducted.

For 2018, expect state Rep. Stacey Abrams and Secretary of State Brian Kemp to take their battle over voter registration to the governor’s race. Both have to be considered leading candidates in what will become an open gubernatorial contest in four years.

Georgia Could Be Subject to Pre-Clearance After Amendments to the Voting Rights Act

DC lawmakers have introduced a bill updating the formula used by the Voting Rights Act to determine which states and localities must submit changes in voting locations and election procedures to the federal government for approval. Under the new formula, Georgia would again be among the locations required to submit changes before they could go into effect.

Arguing it was outdated, the Supreme Court last June invalidated the original formula passed in 1965. The ruling effectively gutted Section 5 of the VRA, and allowed the previously affected states and municipalities, including Georgia, the freedom to change precinct boundaries and voting locations on their own.

The bill was written by John Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont). It was was introduced to coincide with Monday’s Martin Luther King holiday. According to the Associated Press,

The new bill redraws from scratch the formula used to determine which states are required to seek federal approval before changing their voting practices. It requires clearance only from states where there have been at least five Voting Rights Acts violations – with at least one committed by the state itself.

Supporters said only Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas fall into that category. After 10 years, states could seek a “bailout” from the clearance requirement.

This morning’s AJC quotes Atlanta Rep. John Lewis:

The swift action we took on this issue demonstrates the importance of the right to vote (for) members on both sides of the aisle,” said Rep. John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat and former civil rights movement leader. “It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society.”

While the bill may gain some traction in the Democratically controlled Senate, support in the Republican controlled House is much less certain.

Georgia’s Congressional Districts From 1850 Until Present Day

Darrell Galloway, chairman of the current 11th District, sent out the first three PDFs to folks a part of the new 14th Congressional District.  I added the current version as well as the new version of the congressional district maps.  I figured I would share them with our larger Peach Pundit family:

Maps of Georgia’s Congressional Districts from 1850 to 2000

Map of Georgia’s Congressional Districts in the 1990s (A better version than the one they have listed as the ’92 map in the one above)

Map of Georgia’s Congressional Districts as drawn in 2001

Map of Georgia’s Current Congressional Districts as drawn in 2005

Map of Georgia’s Congressional Districts as drawn in 2011


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Bob Barr As The Comeback Kid?

Former Republican Congressman and (Big L) Libertarian Presidential candidate in 2008 is considering making a return to the Republican Party and trying to make a return back to the US House of Representatives.  Jim Galloway cites the Daily Caller as confirming Barr’s consideration to become the gentleman from the 14th district:

It was good information, but we could never track Barr himself down to confirm the report. However, Steven Nelson at the Daily Caller in Washington just did:

Barr [said] “some supporters are encouraging me” to run for Congress in 2012. He noted that because of redistricting, “much of the new 14th District was part of my old 7th District.”

Barr, who lost his congressional seat in 2002, is a Cobb County resident. The 14th District drifts from far north Georgia down to next-door Paulding County.

Barr told the DC that no decision had been made yet.

Well, we’ve been told that polls are running the the new 14th district by supporters of Bob Barr.  The telephone polls are conducted by live agents and apparently the choices in the poll are Bob Barr, Jerry Shearin (Paulding County Commish Chairman), and current 9th District Congressman Tom Graves.  Regrettably, they apparently have left out Walker County’s Steve Tarvin of Chickamauga, who is also making a primary run against Congressman Graves, from the poll’s choices.  I haven’t heard about the polls in my area of the 14th, but it’s possible they could be running them mainly in Paulding County to gauge support in the largest county of the new district.

Let the rumor mill get ramped up.


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Georgia’s Ten Most Vulnerable Democratic (and/or Independent) Districts

To restate some of what I wrote yesterday in my post entitled “10 Most Vulnerable Republican Districts”:

There are a hundred ways to determine how vulnerable a legislative district is for a takeover by the opposing political Party.

Just because a district or a legislator appears on this list does not mean that they are in political trouble.  It does generally mean that the legislators who represent these districts must be able to find ways of winning over voters from the opposing Party.

These rankings are not a statement about the legislator who represents them. This ranking is simply a mathematical formula that determines how strong or weak a district is compared to all the other districts in the state.

The following is a list of Democratic House members representing districts in which Republicans can win a majority, or a significant percentage, of the vote. Of all the Democratic-held districts in Georgia, these 10 Democratic-held districts have the highest capacity for Republicans to win votes, a figure that is stated in the right column: The Democratic Ideal.

The Republican Ideal is the average of multiple election results within each district for the best-performing statewide (non-Presidential) Republican candidates in 2006, 2008 or 2010.

Thanks to Mike Seigle, Gabriel Sterling, Mark Pettitt and Andrew Pantino here at Landmark for researching and contributing to this targeting report. Doing a report like this requires hundreds of man-hours, accumulating thousands of pieces of information including election results, voter history, and geographic and demographic information.

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Ten Most Vulnerable Republican Districts in Georgia

As mentioned in other rankings, there are a hundred ways to determine how vulnerable a legislative district is for a takeover by the opposing political Party.

Just because a district or a legislator appears on this list does not mean that they are in political trouble.  It does generally mean that the legislators who represent these districts must be able to find ways of winning over voters from the opposing Party.

These rankings are not a statement about the legislator who represents them. This ranking is simply a mathematical formula that determines how strong or weak a district is compared to all the other districts in the state.

The following is a list of Republican House members representing districts in which Democrats can win a majority, or a significant percentage, of the vote. Of all the Republican-held districts in Georgia, these 10 Republican-held districts have the highest capacity for Democrats to win votes, a figure that is stated in the right column: The Democratic Ideal.

The Democratic Ideal is the average of multiple election results within each district for the best-performing statewide (non-Presidential) Democratic candidates in 2006, 2008 or 2010.

Thanks to Mike Seigle, Gabriel Sterling, Mark Pettitt and Andrew Pantino here at Landmark for researching and contributing to this targeting report. Doing a report like this requires hundreds of man-hours, accumulating thousands of pieces of information including election results, voter history, and geographic and demographic information.

Tomorrow we’ll release the Top Ten List of Most Vulnerable Democratic Districts.

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Greetings from the Newly Minted 14th Congressional District

It’s not 100% official yet as it has to get the Feds’ approval, but those of us in Northwest Georgia did get our wish to become our own congressional district and gain the label of the 14th Congressional District. I would have liked to keep Gilmer, Fannin, and all of Pickens in exchange for a couple of counties to the south of us near Atlanta, but I believe this will work just fine. With all due respect to the fine folks in Hall County and others in the eastern side of the 9th district, but it’s nice to have a district in the same general geographic area.

The new 9th District will have to go through the electorial gyrations of another primary election and subsequent run-off (wouldn’t they technically be the new 14th?). Congressman Tom Graves has said that he would run in the 14th District come 2012, but he’ll have some primary opposition from Steve Tarvin, a businessman and former city councilman and city school board member from Chickamauga in Walker County. So far, I haven’t heard of any other Republicans eyeing a primary run against Congressman Graves, but it’s certainly a possibility given that it’s a new district with new area. A Democratic challenger in November wouldn’t surprise me either.

Ultimately, some of my friends and colleagues in today’s 9th district will have to contend with an open congressional seat…again, but look a the bright side…at least it will be 3 elections rather than 5 back in 2010.

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A Cleaner View Of The House Democrat’s Proposed Map

Todd linked to the State House maps proposed by the Democrats. I found the maps hard to read, especially for the proposed metro Atlanta districts because of the large font used on the district labels. Here is a copy of the Democratic maps presented to the Reaportionment Committee. Added to the map are dots showing where incumbents live. Districts highlighted in red show districts where incumbents were paired.

Also included, just for kicks, is the email Rep. Abrams sent to Democratic Caucus members gently urging them to vote against the proposed Republican maps.

All’s Too Quiet on the Western Front

The first few months of 2011 was tumultuious in the Georgia Senate with a group of senators leading the charge to topple Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle as the leader of the Senate. That ended up being more of a flesh wound rather than a full-fledged coup d’etat. The Senate GOP Caucus civil war was the butt of most jokes for those who follow inside baseball in Georgia politics. Once the gavel slammed down on Sine Die to close the 2011 session of the Georgia General Assembly, it seemed like both sides retreated back to their camps and pretty much been mum on the issue since. It’s been quiet…all too quiet.

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Georgia Redistricting – Early Recon

Jim Galloway has some early reconnaissance on Georgia’s highly-anticipated redistricting session.

This is the first time in Georgia history that Republicans will have start-to-finish control of the process, which will be primarily, but not entirely, driven by last year’s census.

Under Democratic rule, GOP lawmakers criticized a process that was ruthless and secretive. Republicans promise to conduct themselves more openly. But score-settling will still be the rule — and the targets won’t always be Democratic.

Names to watch for – John Barrow, John Lewis, Sanford Bishop, Austin Scott. Political futures are at stake as the lines are moved about like blobs of Jello.

As Jim quips, “What — you thought these lines were about you?”

A Tri-Partisan Reapportionment Meeting To Be Held In Forsyth

In Forsyth County, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party and the Tea Party are hosting a meeting on reapportionment.

While it is extremely rare for Democrats, Republicans and Tea Party members to agree on any issue, leaders of all three organizations are firmly united in their belief that Forsyth County should not be split up into multiple voting districts. The General Assembly meets in special session next month to redraw the state’s political boundaries.

“The lines will be drawn for the next 10 years and we need to be able control our own destiny,” (Tea Party Founder Steve Voshall) said. “We’re unified in the commitment we have from all parties.”

Asked if he was surprised by that unity, Voshall said, “Not at all. It’s refreshing that different parties with different ideas can come to a mutual agreement. It’s too bad it can’t be done at the national level.”

The meeting will he held at the Forsyth County Administration Building at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 8

Interest Groups Are “Staking Out Positions” On Redistricting

Walter Jones writes in the Augusta Chronicle about the number of special interest groups expressing positions on redistricting and the increased tension (mostly among Democrats) in the Legislature over the drawing of maps.

A number of special interest groups want politics taken out of the process, while Latino groups want some district drawn for them. Democrats in the House are holding their own hearings and Senator Vincent Fort is mad at Sen. Mitch Seabaugh.

Sue Everhart explains why this reapportionment process is different than the Democratic-led effort ten years ago.

GOP State Chairwoman Sue Everhart says there’s two pragmatic reasons for expecting Republicans to produce fair maps. First, they don’t need biased districts to keep them in power.

“We own more of the real estate than the Democrats owned in the last redistricting,” she said. Second, biased maps are bad luck for the majority party.

“We saw what happened to those maps drawn by the Democrats last time,” she said. “History tells you that when you draw unfair maps, you lose.”