Feinstein’s Death Spotlights Succession: Ballots & Boundaries

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After a respectful pause to honor the life of Dianne Feinstein, all eyes will be on California Governor Gavin Newsom, who’ll decide who steps into shoes of the late Democratic senator.

Newsom (D) has said two things about that:

1) He’ll appoint a Black woman

2) He won’t appoint anyone already running so as not to upend the primary by creating an instant incumbent. “It would be completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off,” Newsom said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” earlier this month.

That means it won’t be Rep. Barbara Lee (D), though she’s clearly one of the candidates to watch, along with fellow Reps. Adam Schiff (D) and Katie Porter (D), and former Google executive Lexi Reese (D). — Greg Giroux

See also:

ARIZONA: Lake Sets a Date
Former local TV anchor Kari Lake says Oct. 10 is the day she’ll become a Senate candidate in what’s already one of the hardest-to-handicap races of the cycle.

She’s a familiar face in the Phoenix market who’s been raising her national profile by vociferously supporting Donald Trump, refusing to accept his defeat and her own gubernatorial election loss.

We don’t know whether she might be taking on incumbent Kyrsten Sinema because the Democrat-turned-independent hasn’t yet said if she’ll run again. Rep. Ruben Gallego is the likely Democratic Party nominee. “At a minimum, it’s probably going to be a very interesting election,” said Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.). — Zach C. Cohen

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We’re just days away from a couple court rulings on the constitutionality of congressional district lines.

In Alabama, a three-judge federal panel will convene a hearing Tuesday before it selects one of a special master’s three proposed remedial maps with new boundaries for the 2024 election.

In their court files, the version Republican lawyers found most objectionable was Option No. 1, because of how it would split Houston County (Dothan) in southeastern Alabama. Plaintiffs said they liked that version and Option No. 3, which they said would more consistently elect Black-preferred candidates than the other proposal.

What we’ll be watching: Rep. Barry Moore (R), whose southeastern 2nd District would change the most under all three maps, could end up challenging Rep. Jerry Carl (R) in a district that would absorb much of their current constituencies. “We’re seriously praying about it, and we’ll make a decision once we get a map,” Moore said.

READ MORE: Democrats Poised to Gain in House After Supreme Court Order

In New Mexico, a state judge will decide whether the Democratic legislature’s congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The incumbent with the most on the line there is Democrat Gabe Vasquez. After changes to the 2nd District pulled in a heavily Hispanic and Democratic part of Albuquerque, he narrowly ousted Republican Yvette Herrell in the 2022 election.

The Democrats’ “near-perfect gerrymander” diluted Republican votes by “cracking” conservative southeastern New Mexico, according to a filing from Republicans. The New Mexico Supreme Court directed judge Fred Van Soelen to resolve the matter by Oct. 6. READ MORE from KUNM public radio.

In Florida, a federal redistricting trial is to wrap up next week. At issue in that case is the dismantling of a Black-plurality district formerly held by Al Lawson, a Black Democrat who represented the Tallahassee and Jacksonville areas.

Those new district lines, pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), were a big factor in the GOP flip of US House control. The chief mapmaker, Alex Kelly, was one of the early witnesses on he stand. In his testimony, he said, “I had no reason to look at racial and ethnic data in North Florida.” READ MORE from Politico.

There are two Florida redistricting cases; the other one is a state case going through the appellate process.

Finally, a panel of 5th Circuit judges is to hear arguments next week in an appeal of a US district judge’s preliminary injunction ruling in a case challenging Louisiana‘s congressional district configuration.

We’re keeping an eye out for whether that litigation can be buttoned up in time to make a difference in 2024; it’s possible for Louisiana to get two full cycles out of maps that end up being thrown out and replaced for 2026. READ MORE about that from NPR. — Greg Giroux

TEXAS: Grow Your Own Foe
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) may have to defeat one of his former employees to keep his job next year. Again.

Jose Sanz, until recently a senior Cuellar aide, is seeking the Republican nomination for Cuellar’s 28th District, which runs from San Antonio to Laredo on the border with Mexico. Sanz faces Army veteran Kyle Sinclair in the March primary.

Sanz in a statement said that while working as Cuellar’s press secretary and district director “it became clear that my values and beliefs did not align with those of the office.”

In 2020 and 2022, Cuellar was challenged in the Democratic primaries by Jessica Cisneros, one of his former interns. — Zach C. Cohen


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To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bgov.com; Zach C. Cohen in Washington at zcohen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com; Bennett Roth at broth@bgov.com

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