Redistricting kicks off ruthless year of House infighting

Even without the data available, both parties are tacitly concerned about the fate of some of the members in the new maps yet to be drawn.

In Georgia, Democrats are already preparing for the prospect of only one left winnable seat in the suburbs north of Atlanta, where MPs Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) and Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.) live. Republicans have Trifecta control in Georgia and could create one deep blue seat in Gwinnett County, with the other seat left heavily Republican skewed.

In Illinois, GOP MP Rodney Davis could be left without a friendly district if the Democrats unite Springfield with the bluer parts of Republican Rep. Mike Bost’s district to the south. In the meantime, Bost could be fighting for the survival of Congress with the newly minted Republican Mary Miller.

Still, the battles for seats within Congress may not be as bad as many expected.

The Alabama Republicans and the entire Minnesota delegation took a break as their states remained stable at seven and eight seats, respectively. Some of the eight Minnesota incumbents were preparing for member fights. Instead, Democratic Reps Dean Phillips and Angie Craig can each have a seat in the Twin Cities suburbs, and Republican Reps Michelle Fischbach, Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber no longer have to play musical chairs in the North, West and South.

“I wouldn’t want to run against any of my colleagues like Angie, but I would like to run against Tom Emmer,” joked Phillips in an interview.

The campaign arms of the Democratic and Republican Congresses each typically appoint a redistribution chairperson-designate with the unenviable job of keeping delegations open lines of conversation as they draw cards.

Republicans have won MP Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) For the job, but Democrats rely heavily on an outside group, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, led by Eric Holder.

The restructuring process will be alien to most of the current Congress. Of the 435 members, around 160 were in the house ten years ago. But when the political instinct for survival kicks in, they’ll learn how quickly old friendships turn sour.

If 2011 is a sign of it, Congress will soon be a soap opera.

It was the spring of that year when former Democratic MP Russ Carnahan cracked down on Missouri Democrats Lacy Clay and Emmanuel Cleaver, who refused to oppose a GOP-led redistribution plan that put Carnahan in the same district as Clay . “F — you. Thank you for your help,” he reportedly said to Cleaver on the floor of the house.

In Pennsylvania, former Democratic MP Jason Altmire recalled showing then-candidate Mark Critz around his hometown and running DC fundraisers for him when Critz ran in a 2010 special election. Two years later they ran up against each other and Critz tried to get Altmire off the ballot.

“See you in the hall in the Capitol and sit there on the floor and various conversations are overheard,” said Altmire. “And it’s just a very difficult work environment to maintain these friendships.”

Perhaps the most notable redistribution spar came in the Los Angeles area between Sherman and Berman, two veteran Democrats. Sherman, who outstripped Berman by 20 points, said both were trying to convince the other to walk on a brand new incumbent seat in Ventura County – but neither had deep roots there.

In the heat of the campaign, a uniformed guard stepped into a debate between them after Berman suggested that Sherman was “delusional”.

“We’re both very, very polite, with the possible exception of a minute,” Sherman recalled.

Leave a Comment