Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Boehner Makes Another Move Against His Republican Tormentors As Gerrymandered GOP Congressional Maps In Florida And Virginia Face Court-Mandated Redistricting


As we saw last month, Boehner is working, albeit covertly, with the Chamber of Commerce to rid his caucus of "uncooperative" Republicans-- libertarians like Amash and extremists like Cantor-killer Dave Brat. They want to send a message to the members of the Freedom Caucus that their careers are in jeopardy if they don't fall in line behind the GOP Establishment. This week, Jack Fitzpatrick, writing for the National Journal, pointed out that it might not be a mere coincidence that Boehner's Republican enemies are the ones most likely to lose their seats when court-mandated redrawing of gerrymandered districts goes into effect.

Three Republicans most likely to be drawn out of safe districts before the 2016 election are Boehner enemies Daniel Webster (R-FL), Dave Brat (R-VA) and Mark Meadows (R-NC).
Florida's and Virginia's legislatures are in special sessions to redraw their maps after court decisions, and the Florida lawmakers have specific instructions not to take politics into consideration. Meanwhile, the North Carolina Supreme Court is still preparing to hear arguments in a gerrymandering lawsuit. But already, there have been enough signs to scare anti-establishment conservatives.

In Florida's new draft congressional map, Webster's district absorbs thousands of Democratic voters and turns into a majority-minority seat; Webster, who ran for speaker against Boehner in 2015, told legislators that the new district would be "impossible to win." Many Republicans in Virginia would like to do the same to Brat's district as they prepare a court-ordered redistricting little more than a year after Brat defeated ex-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary. (Brat also voted against Boehner for speaker this winter.) And in North Carolina, the GOP congressional delegation is packed with members who have experience and connections in the state legislature that may redraw their map-- advantages that Meadows, who recently filed a motion to remove Boehner from power, does not have.

"These conservative members should definitely assume that they are enemy No. 1 on the list," said Daniel Horowitz, senior editor of the Conservative Review. "If you're going to redraw the maps, who's going to be your first priority? … If the establishment could kill two birds with one stone-- comply with the courts and pick off a conservative-- they would absolutely take that opportunity."

...In Virginia, a court directed lawmakers to shift African-American voters out of Rep. Bobby Scott's heavily Democratic district, leaving the neighboring Brat as an appealing target.

"If they could take it out on Brat, they could," said Quentin Kidd, director for Christopher Newport University's center for public policy. Kidd cited "a deep-seated frustration that Brat knocked off Cantor." Plus, he added, Brat has no high-profile defenders in the state legislature.

Ironically, Brat's saving grace could end up being Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who can sign or veto whatever plan the legislature approves. Pushing extra Democrats from Scott's district into Brat's would be the least-beneficial option for Democrats, Kidd said. Rather, Democrats see an opportunity to push potential swing seats belonging to Reps. Scott Rigell and Randy Forbes in their direction.
Rigell and Forbes are Boehner allies, and the Republican Establishment will do whatever it can to shore up their gerrymandered districts-- and if they can rid Congress of Brat, so much the better, even if it means one less Republican and one more Democrat in the House.

This is the map the Florida House came up with

Yesterday the Florida House voted 76-35 for a new map of the state’s congressional districts, one that would end the political career of extremist imbecile Daniel Webster and push right-wing Blue Dog Gwen Graham into the 2018 gubernatorial race (where she'll likely face Marco Rubio). The other incumbents most likely to lose their seats are Carlos Curbelo, David Jolly (who's trying to run for the Senate to avoid that fate) and John Mica, all Republicans. (Mica will probably face Bill Phillips, the toughest opponent who's taken him on in his long, long career, a horrible prospect for Mica in a district that doesn't include his strongholds in Volusia County.) 

The House map isn't the same as the map the Florida Senate came up with. The two GOP-controlled chambers have until Friday to reach an agreement. Or else...

Or else what? The best idea would be what just happened in Virginia. The partisan hacks in the legislature couldn't work it out and a panel of federal judges is going to draw up nonpartisan district lines-- regardless of whose toes get stepped on. I hope the judges upset the careers of every member of the state's congressional delegation so that they have to go to the voters and account for themselves and ask for the cushy job back.
A public hearing on redistricting ended abruptly Monday when the House Privileges and Elections Committee chairman, Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, refused to take further testimony after announcing that the Senate had adjourned the special legislative session hours after it began.

Cole interrupted Diana Egozcue, president of Virginia NOW and the sixth of 19 scheduled speakers, with the announcement, “We’re no longer in session, so we can no longer take your testimony.”

House Republican leaders appeared shell-shocked by the Senate maneuver, which ensures the General Assembly will not meet a Sept. 1 deadline imposed by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to fix unconstitutional defects in the redistricting plan that then-Gov. Bob McDonnell signed in January 2012.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued a statement that explicitly kicked the issue back to the courts and declared, “The opportunity for a legislative remedy has ended.”

McAuliffe said he was going to send a letter to the courts. “They need to get this redistricting done,” he said in a meeting with reporters outside the Executive Mansion.

So, the court will assume the task of drawing new districts to reduce what it found to be unconstitutional gerrymandering to pack black voters into the 3rd Congressional District and reduce their influence in other districts.

...Advocates for nonpartisan, independent redistricting said the dramatic breakdown proves their point.

“This is emblematic of what’s wrong with the system,” said Dale Eisman, senior researcher at Common Cause.

“They run the process as a closed shop,” Eisman said.

Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA, called it “particularly egregious that they called off the hearing and sent everyone home.”

“It doesn’t say much for the process or public input to pull the plug,” Scholl said. “They are treating this as a political game of one-upping each other and not as a transparent process that respects the voters.”

...The Republican plan was to make the least number of changes necessary to make the 3rd District comply with the court’s order to find a solution that did not pack minority voters into one district to dilute their influence in others.

The criteria the joint committee adopted would have left decisions on redistricting to the General Assembly as “elected representatives of the people,” which advocates said is the problem with the system now.

“The process of redistricting shouldn’t be about getting or keeping power for one political part or the other,” said Geneva Perry, a Williamsburg resident in the 1st District, which could be affected by changes in the 3rd District, which extends from Richmond to Norfolk.
Like we said above, Boehner was covertly intervening in the process to make sure lots of Democratic voters (African Americans) from VA-03 (Bobby Scott's district) were moved into his nemesis Dave Brat's district (VA-07) and kept out of VA-02 and VA-04, represented, respectively, by Boehner allies Scott Rigell and Randy Forbes. Boehner is already celebrating the almost certain departure from Congress of Daniel Webster from FL-10. Here's a chunk of Virgina most effected by the court ruling:

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