Wednesday, February 02, 2011

GOP's redistricting plans are pushed to the back burner

Kos notes that with too many irons in the fire -- repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act, killing Social Security, impeaching that damn socialist communist Obama --  the Republicans are letting redistricting slide down the priority list. Via the DNCC, Noah Rothman at Campaigns and Elections:

Having made significant state-level gains in the 2010 elections, the GOP appeared to be in a prime position to influence the decennial process of congressional redistricting. But, as the process gets underway in a series of first-round states, including New Jersey, Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana, some party insiders are concerned that Republicans have failed to amass the funding necessary to capitalize on their advantages. 

In particular, the insiders point to the lackluster performance of Making America’s Promise Secure (MAPS), a Republican 501(c)(4) founded in 2009 in part by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to assist in the GOP’s redistricting efforts. (Costs related to redistricting have in the past been covered by the RNC through “soft money” donations, though these were banned by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms early last decade.)

On January 12, Nathan Gonzalez reported in Roll Call that MAPS has gone quiet in recent months. He quotes Brad Todd, a National Republican Congressional Committee consultant and founder of On Message, Inc., to the effect that Republican priorities shifted in 2010 to immediate electoral gains, leaving planning for redistricting in the lurch. “There was a conscious decision to win elections,” he told Gonzalez. “People got tired of paying lawyers.” With the RNC extremely short on cash, Republicans face a significant funding problem just as the redistricting efforts in first-round states are ramping up.

Reported also from June of last year by Politico ...

Outmaneuvered by the GOP during the last round of redistricting a decade ago, Democrats appear to have an early advantage as the two parties gear up again for the expensive and high-stakes battle over redrawing state legislative and congressional districts.

“I do believe that the Democrats are much better organized at this stage,” said Ben Ginsberg, a top Republican election lawyer. 

More recently -- as in a couple of weeks ago -- from Hotline On Call:

Even though Republicans made historic gains at the state level in 2010 that gave them unprecedented control over redistricting, they are currently lacking a unifying organization to lead the process.

And the absence of such a group is starting to cause alarm in Republican circles.

One such Republican is former NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds. Reynolds is particularly invested in redistricting because he helped spearhead the GOP's efforts in 2010 that netted Republicans nearly 700 new seats in statehouses across the country at the Republican State Leadership Committee. Reynolds directly oversaw the RSLC's REDMAP program, the group's primary fundraising arm.

Despite those gains, though, Reynolds said the GOP is in something of holding pattern without an organization dedicated to raising money and focused on redistricting.

"I've been surprised that I didn't see the party yearning for some sort of outside effort to get the map-making up and going," Reynolds told Hotline On Call. "Normally instead of having the party pay for that, someone on the outside would take that initiative and I haven't seen that leadership."

It's more than just a money problem and a lack of focus by the national organization. They're also hamstrung by circumstances beyond their control. Here in Deep-In-The-Hearta redistricting is under mandatory Department of Justice review to assure that there are no deleterious effects to minority representation. And the difference between  the 2003 redistricting legacy of Tom DeLay and this year's is as vast as the gap between Eric Holder and Alberto Gonzales.

The Republican-dominated state legislature is also distracted with Rick Perry's emergencies, of course. Oh well, he can always call a special session.

But the red tide of 2012 swept so many GOP freshmen into office in Austin as well as Washington (Canseco, Farenthold) that there just aren't enough Republican voters to protect all of them. So some are bound to get screwed over by their new district maps. This inherently assumes, however,  that Democrats of all stripes -- young voters, disaffected progressives, and especially Latinos -- return to the polls in 2012 in numbers that can overcome a still-vigorous TeaBagger uprising. Sadly, that's no safe assumption.

With so much attention focusing on this rather glaring overlook, can they get it in gear and get after it on this project?

I'm guessing they'll start making up some ground very soon. But they just won't have the kind of success securing their grip on rulership that they have in the past.

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