Friday, October 14, 2011

First Thoughts on Court's First Draft Redistricting Maps

Earlier this afternoon, we caught a first glimpse at Judge Russell's panel's first draft of redistricting maps.

Incumbent Rep. Joe Heck’s congressional seat would have more Democrats than Republicans and one central Las Vegas congressional district would be almost 43 percent Hispanic, according to maps released by the Nevada District Court today.

The masters decided against drawing a district with a majority of Hispanic voters, as Republicans wanted.

“The Special Masters concluded that bloc voting by the white majority was not shown to usually defeat a minority’s preferred candidate,” they wrote.

The three “special masters” appointed by Judge Todd Russell drew the maps after holding hearings and taking public testimony this week.

So here's what we know so far about the new districts (demographic info here, Clark County closeup here) :

- NV-01 is now 42.8% Latino (in general population I believe, not VAP) and centered in Las Vegas' urban core. Its voter registration breakdown is 52% Democrats to 25% Republicans.

- NV-02 now narrows to Greater Carson-Reno and Northern Nevada. Its voter registration breakdown is 42% Republican to 35% Democratic.

- NV-03 narrows to mostly just the Southwest side of the valley and Henderson-Boulder, along with some of Summerlin and all of the southern rurals (Searchlight and Laughlin). It's 40% Dem and 37% GOP.

- And NV-04, the brand spanking new district, takes in Ely and Tonopah, then gallops its way down to Clark County to take most of North Las Vegas, the Northwest end of the valley, and Summerlin. It's 46% Dem and 33% GOP.

So far, it looks like Dina Titus, Ruben Kihuen, and Barbara Cegavske all live in the new NV-01, while Mark Amodei lives in the new NV-02, Joe Heck and John Oceguera live in the new NV-03, and Steven Horsford and John Lee live in the new NV-04. And so far, it looks like Horsford may get to breathe a nice sigh of relief, Kihuen gets to do a good fist pump, and the rest have huge political headaches awaiting them.

Tomorrow morning, I'll have more analysis of this late breaking development... But in the mean time, here are my quick observations:

- Judge Russell probably dodged a HUGE legal bullet, as his panel split the difference on the Voting Rights Act issue by giving NV-01 sizable Latino influence without unduly packing it.

- Nevada Democrats overall dodged HUGE political bullets in getting two safe Dem Congressional seats, along with a State Senate map that favors Democrats (more on that later, too!).

- However, two particular Clark County Democrats will have to bite painful bullets. Dina Titus' base is now split between NV-01 and NV-03, so she will have to choose whether to fight a bloody primary with Ruben Kihuen in NV-01 or agree to challenge Joe Heck again in NV-03. And if she chooses the latter, then John Oceguera had better watch out.

- At this point, Nevada Republicans look to be the biggest losers. Joe Heck is far from safe in the new NV-03, NV-04 looks quite out of reach from them, the State Senate will probably be less likely to flip with Shirley Breeden's and Alison Copening's districts made more Democratic (along with Elizabeth Halseth's too, haha!), and the Assembly still looks firmly out of reach for them as well.

And unless the Nevada Supreme Court somehow decides to invalidate this map, which I see as increasingly unlikely (judging by their recent smoke signals in letting this panel call the shots for now), these new Congressional and Legislature maps are probably here to stay. And so far, I'm mostly liking what I'm seeing. Let the games begin!

1 comment:

  1. The way I see it, you are looking at a three-way primary in NV01. Senate Majority Leader Horsford has already declared that he will be running in the first Congressional District. He doesn't live in the district, but that's not a problem. You only need to live in the state. And since CD 1 has the largest Latino population, that will most likely be where Ruben will run as well. So, really Dina is faced with a Sophie's choice. Does she primary John Oceguera for the right to face Heck again, or does she enter a three-way primary and hope she comes out on top in a seat for life? The person who, somewhat surprising came out clean is John Lee. While the southern portion of the district extends into the more mature areas of North Las Vegas, it's mostly White Mormon territory. In a district like this, I can easily see him winning the general, unless someone like current North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck or former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon get in the race.