CQ Politics | Gubernatorial Outlook in the Net-Zero Remap States: Part II

This is final segment of our series on this year’s gubernatorial races and how they will affect congressional redistricting, which will take place after the this year’s census is completed. With a focus on seats up in 2010 now held by Republicans in states that are projected to keep the same number of House seats following reapportionment, we hope this will be a little light reading for your holiday weekend.

Light, at least, compared to the previous segment on the races for Democratic-held seats in the “net-zero” reapportionment states. There were 16 of those, and only 11 states in the GOP column that are detailed in the roundup below.

Last week, we looked at the redistricting implications of gubernatorial races in states that are projected by political data analysis firm Election Data Services (EDS) – based on July 2009 Census Bureau population estimates – to either gain seats or lose seats in reapportionment. All told, we have looked at all 43 states that are projected to have more than one district and therefore must gear up for redistricting.

The remaining seven states, the nation’s least populous, have the minimum of one at-large House seat guaranteed to each state in the Constitution. There are races for governor in four of those states: Alaska, where Republican incumbent Sean Parnell is running; South Dakota, where Republican Gov. Michael Rounds cannot run because of term limits; Vermont, where Republican Gov. Jim Douglas is retiring; and Wyoming, where Democratic incumbent Dave Freudenthal is term limited. Current incumbents in Delaware (Democrat Jack Markell ), Montana (Democrat Brian Schweitzer ) and North Dakota (Republican John Hoeven , who is running this year for Senate) were elected in 2008 and their seats are not up for election until 2012.

Republican “Net-Zero” States

Hawaii: Hawaii is one of a handful of states in which a bipartisan commission performs congressional redistricting. So this year’s contest to succeed term-limited Gov. Linda Lingle (R) will have no remap impact. It is, nonetheless, an interesting race. Democrats, who have generally dominated politics in Hawaii since it became a state in 1959, will be trying to reclaim the governor’s office won in 2002 and 2006 by the moderate Lingle, and will decide between two longtime political arch rivals in the Sept. 18 primary, former Rep. Neil Abercrombie (who in February resigned his seat to run) and Honolulu Mayor [@url@Mufi Hannemann@http://www.mufihannemann.com/@. Republican Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, who is trying to prove Lingle’s wins were no fluke, is expected to easily outrun his less-known primary opponents.

Alabama: Republicans now have dominated statewide races for a long stretch in this conservative Southern state. But that trend away from Alabama’s roots as a conservative Democratic stronghold have only slowly permeated to the state legislative level. Unless the GOP this year is able to overturn a narrow Democratic majority in the state Senate, they’ll need to win the race to succeed term-limited Gov. Bob Riley (R) to have a seat at the redistricting table. The campaign for the June 1 GOP primary has seven contenders, five of whom have serious political grounding: Tim James, a businessman and son of former Gov. Fob James; conservative activist Roy Moore, who was removed as chief justice of the state Supreme Court in 2003 after defying a federal court ruling to remove a momument to the Ten Commandments that he’d had installed; Bradley Byrne, a former chancellor of Alabama’s two-year college program; Bill Johnson, who headed the state Department of Economic and Community Affairs under Riley; and state Rep. Robert Bentley. The Democratic primary is a showdown between Rep. Artur Davis, who would be Alabama’s first black governor if elected, and state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks.

California: With Democrats holding solid majorities in the state Senate and Assembly, Republicans will need to win the race to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to have a say in how the House districts are drawn. California had trended strongly Democratic, and under normal circumstances, that party would be strongly favored to take back the governor’s seat. And Democrats will have a strong and seasoned candidate in Jerry Brown, the state Attorney General who is running to return to the governor’s office he held from 1975 to 1983. But California has been hit hard by the national economic downturn, voters are angry with both parties over a fiscal mess in Sacramento, and the Republicans will have a wealthy, high-profile nominee emerging from the June 8 primary between Meg Whitman, former CEO of online auction site EBay, and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. While California currently is projected to hold at its current level of 53 seats, some of the EDS models show a possible one-seat loss after the actual head count is completed this year.

Connecticut: The retirement decision by Gov. M. Jodi Rell , a popular Republican moderate in a Democratic-leaning state, gives the Democrats one of their best pickup opportunities in this year’s gubernatorial elections. But it’s not a sure thing. There’s a good chance that the Aug. 10 primary will be won by Ned Lamont, a wealthy cable TV entrepreneur who made a splash in 2006: He won the Democratic Senate primary over incumbent Joseph I. Lieberman — riding a wave of liberal opposition to Lieberman’s fervent support for the war in Iraq — but then lost the general election to Lieberman, who ran on a third-party line. Lamont, who this time is emphasizing his business background and his goal of creating jobs, will get a second chance to show he can win a general election – if he can get through a crowded primary field that includes Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy and local official Mary Glassman, the 2006 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. Republicans also have a crowded primary that includes Tom Foley, a businessman and former ambassador to Ireland; Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele; Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton; and former Rep. Larry DeNardis. The GOP needs this race to have a redistricting voice, since Democrats have big majorities in both houses of the state Legislature.

Idaho: Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) is heavily favored to win a second term, but this gubernatorial contest is also irrelevant to congressional redistricting. Idaho, like Hawaii, has a redistricting commission that is split evenly between the parties – one of the few aspects of politics in which Democrats have a level playing field in this Republican stronghold. Not that the three Democrats who will be appointed to the six-member panel will be able to do much to improve their chances, even if Rep. Walt Minnick , a conservative Democrat who won the 1st district seat in a 2008 upset, is able to beat the odds this November and win a second term. The underlying partisan demographics of the 2nd, the state’s other House district, are just as Republican as those in the 1st district.

Indiana: Republicans are guaranteed a major stake in Indiana’s congressional redistricting. Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) was elected to a second term in 2008 and will serve through 2012, and the GOP has a solid majority in the state Senate. So the redistricting-related battle this fall will be the fight for control of the state House, where Democrats currently hold a small and tenuous majority. Even if Democrats are able to hold on and prevent Republicans from gaining that third leg of the redistricting stool, they’ll face pressure to compromise with their partisan adversaries because of a wrinkle in the state’s redistricting law. If the legislature were to stalemate, authority to draw the map would turn over to a five-member bipartisan commission on which an appointee of the governor would cast the deciding vote.

Minnesota: The decision by Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) to forgo a bid for a third term spurred numerous candidates to rush into the contest on both sides. There has been some self-culling in recent weeks, and the parties hope to thin their fields further at their state endorsement conventions this spring. But Sept. 14 primaries appear likely in both parties. Democrats – who have big majorities in the state Legislature and could control redistricting with a gubernatorial takeover – have well-known figures such as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, former Sen. Mark Dayton, state Sen. John Marty (who ran for governor in 1994) and Ramsey County Attorney General Susan Gaertner headlining their field. A trio of former state legislative colleagues tops the GOP field: state Rep. Marty Seifert, who stepped down as state House minority leader as he mulled a bid; state Rep. Tom Emmer; and former state Rep. Bill Haas. The stakes could be raised by the final census count, as some computer models suggest Minnesota could end up at minus-1 rather than net-zero in reapportionment. One other intangible is a proposal to create a bipartisan commission, which has passed the state Senate but faces an uncertain future in the state House.

Mississippi: Divided partisan control of redistricting is virtually locked in for Mississippi. Gov. Haley Barbour (R) was re-elected in 2007; Democrats have a solid majority in the state House – a vestige of a conservative Democratic past in a Southern state that has trended Republican – and a razor-thin majority in the state Senate.

Nebraska: Defining partisan control of redistricting is a little quirky in Nebraska, because it is the only state with a unicameral legislature, and its members, known as senators, serve without partisan label. But most of its members are identifiably Republicans. And with popular Gov. Dave Heineman (R) appearing a virtual shoo-in for re-election, the GOP seems certain to hold sway over the remap.

Rhode Island: With only two House districts that are about equally Democratic-leaning, congressional redistricting won’t be a top-tier issue in the complicated race to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Donald L. Carcieri . Lincoln Chafee, a former liberal Republican who left the party after losing his Senate re-election bid in 2006, is running as an independent and has held a sizable but not dispositive lead in polls over the contenders for the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, state Treasurer Frank Caprio and state Attorney General Patrick Lynch, and Republican John Robitaille, an aide to Carcieri. Democrats have an overwhelming advantage in the state Legislature.

Virginia: Split control appears almost certain in Virginia. A strong GOP comeback in the state’s 2009 elections, after a slump of several years, boosted Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to victory, and the GOP added to its majority in the state House. But the Democrats have a narrow majority in the state Senate, which, barring unforeseen circumstances, will last at least until the November 2011 elections.

CQ Politics | Gubernatorial Outlook in the Net-Zero Remap States: Part II

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