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So far, one Senate Republican (Mike Braun, running for Indiana governor) and one Democrat (Michigan’s retiring Debbie Stabenow) have announced plans to leave the Senate rather than run in 2024.
So who’s next?
Perhaps it’ll be Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who’s officially on the fence. “I’ll decide by the end of the month,” Kaine said in a hallway conversation. If he runs and wins again, Kaine would be 71 years old at the end of his third term.
Three-term Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is giving himself a little more time to think about it. “I will have my conversations with my principal advisor who is Myrna my wife, talk it over, probably February, March make a decision,” the 79-year-old told reporters.
Democrats are on pins and needles in anticipation of campaign decisions by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) because those contests could shift the majority in a cycle that has a decided GOP edge (Republicans will be defending 11 of the 34 Senate seats on the 2024 ballots.)
And just in case you’ve been out of town, the big campaign move of the week is the nudging of 89-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) by a fellow Democrat, Rep. Katie Porter. Feinstein said she’ll announce her plans for 2024 “at the appropriate time”. — Zach C. Cohen and Nancy Ognanovich
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ARKANSAS: VRA Standing
Federal appeals court judges are considering whether private citizens and voting rights groups should be able to bring racial gerrymandering cases under the Voting Rights Act.
The three-judge US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit panel this week questioned Sophia Lin Lakin, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, about whether voters should have to look to other remedies for racially motivated line-drawing because Congress didn’t include an express right to sue in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“For over 40 years dozens of federal courts have heard hundreds of Section 2 claims by private plaintiffs, 10 in the Supreme Court, and 18 in this court,” Lakin said. “Not once did [Congress] decide to correct what would be a misunderstanding of epic proportions.”
Nicholas J. Bronni, the attorney for Arkansas, said the lawsuit against his state’s congressional maps should be dismissed, as the lower court ruled in February 2022, because Congress hasn’t spoken on this “open issue.”
A victory for Arkansas would also maintain a split in how the federal circuits treat gerrymandering cases, priming a potential US Supreme Court challenge. — Alex Ebert
NEW MEXICO: ‘Cracking’ Case
The New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a Republican challenge to a Democratic-drawn congressional map. Republicans say the map “cracked” GOP voters in southeastern New Mexico and revamped the Republican-friendly southern 2nd District to include heavily Democratic precincts in western Albuquerque.
The new lines helped Democrat Gabe Vasquez unseat Republican Yvette Herrell in the 2022 election. Democrats say no judiciable standards exist to guide the court and the New Mexico constitution’s equal protection clause doesn’t provide a basis for a claim of partisan gerrymandering. — Greg Giroux
Next House Majority
California’s 30th District
At least two Democrats have taken formal steps to seek Rep. Adam Schiff’s House seat if the veteran Democrat and former Intelligence Committee Chair runs for Feinstein’s Senate seat.
California assemblywoman Laura Friedman and Nick Melvoin, a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, filed paperwork this week with the Federal Election Commission that will allow them to raise money for a potential campaign. California’s 30th District includes Burbank and Glendale and is strongly Democratic. — Greg Giroux
California’s 47th District
Ex-Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) is seeking a swing district in Orange County that Rep. Katie Porter (D) is giving up to run for the Senate. Rouda unseated longtime Republican Dana Rohrabacher in the 2018 election and was unseated in 2020 by Republican Michelle Steel. He sat out the 2022 election after redistricting merged big parts of his and Porter’s districts.
Republican Scott Baugh, a former California assemblyman who lost to Porter by 3.4 percentage points in 2022, said he’ll make a second bid for a district that includes Irvine and Newport Beach. — Greg Giroux
Washington’s 3rd District
Joe Kent (R), an Army veteran and Donald Trump ally, already is seeking a rematch with Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, the only House Democrat first elected last November from a district Trump won.
Kent, who ousted then-Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) in the 2022 all-candidate primary, attacked Perez for voting for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) in the speaker’s election and against a GOP bill that would rescind most of the funding the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act provided to the Internal Revenue Service.
Perez, in a fundraising email, accused Kent of “right-wing extremism” and said she’s keeping a promise to be “Southwest Washington’s independent voice in Congress.” Perez was one of the three Democrats who voted this week for a nonbinding Republican measure that condemned attacks against anti-abortion groups and facilities. — Greg Giroux
Caught Our Eye: Ballot Questions
- Mississippi lawmakers consider resurrecting the ballot initiative process. (WAPT-TV)
- The firm Mission Control Inc., which worked on ballot initiative campaigns in Kansas and Kentucky, has been hired by a coalition of advocates that’s pushing for a pro-abortion access ballot proposal in Ohio. (Ohio Capital Journal)
- The Ohio General Assembly will have four months to vote on a proposed cannabis legalization ballot measure. (Ballotpedia.org)
- Senate ’24 landscape: BGOV OnPoint
- Our past coverage: BGOV Archive
- Litigation Trackers: Loyola Law School Brennan Center
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To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at email@example.com; Zach C. Cohen in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org; Katherine Rizzo in Washington at email@example.com; Alex Ebert in Madison, Wisconsin at firstname.lastname@example.org