Ohio’s Lines Set, Others Still in Court: Ballots & Boundaries

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Cross Ohio off the list of states that may get new congressional maps for the 2024 election now that the state Supreme Court agreed to dismiss a challenge to the lines used in 2022.

There are still many question marks, though, and time’s running short to wrap up lawsuits in a dozen other states in time to prepare for the primaries. Here’s a quick catchup on some recent action.

Alabama: Richard F. Allen, the court-appointed special master redrawing Alabama’s lines wants maps — and soon. He’s given parties to the litigation until noon local time on Monday to submit proposed maps; anyone else has until noon Wednesday.

Want to comment on any map? Express yourself by Wednesday.

Allen has until Sept. 25 to submit three proposed plans, along with a report and recommendation, to the panel of three federal judges that blocked the Republican legislature’s proposed remedial map for not including two districts where Black voters can elect their preferred candidates. Republicans have appealed that decision to the US Supreme Court.

Florida: Secretary of State Cord Byrd (R) has appealed a Tallahassee judge’s decision to invalidate the 2022 election map, which dismantled a Black-plurality, Tallahassee-to-Jacksonville district that had been held by Al Lawson (D).

Georgia: A trial on GOP-drawn congressional and state legislative districts is about halfway over and should conclude next week. In the congressional case, plaintiffs allege that robust Black population growth merits the creation of an additional Black-majority district in metropolitan Atlanta.

Kentucky: The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Sept. 19 in a partisan gerrymandering case. Republicans are asking the court to uphold a ruling that said the Kentucky Constitution doesn’t explicitly forbid partisan gerrymandering. Democrats are “attempting to use this Court to manufacture for them what they could not obtain for themselves—political victories,” according to Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office. A response from map opponents is due Sept. 14. (And if Cameron’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because he’s running for governor.)

Louisiana, New Mexico, New York: Update your redistricting calendar with these court dates. Oral arguments are set for Oct. 6 at the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. It’s being asked to maintain an injunction blocking a Republican-drawn map where just one of six Louisiana congressional districts has a Black voting majority.

In New Mexico, a trial court has set aside Sept. 27-29 to hear a case in which Republicans argue that the state’s congressional map favors Democrats in violation of the state constitution. And the New York Court of Appeals has scheduled Nov. 15 arguments in that state’s redistricting case. — Greg Giroux

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WISCONSIN: Preemptive Strike?
Undeterred by a judiciary disciplinary panel’s rejection of complaints against Wisconsin’s newest member of the state Supreme Court, some Republicans in the legislature are talking about impeaching Justice Janet Protasiewicz to prevent her from hearing that state’s redistricting case.

NEW JERSEY: Maybe Play Nicer
A State Commission of Investigation report found a lot not to like about New Jersey’s bipartisan congressional redistricting commission.

The report called for clear legal authority for the commission’s chair to compel the Democrats to share maps with Republicans and vice versa.

In 2021, Democratic and Republican commissioners separately developed competing maps that didn’t become public until just before the tie-breaker, Chair John E. Wallace Jr., a former state Supreme Court justice, chose the Democrats’ map.

The report also recommended codifying congressional redistricting criteria into law, assigning a New Jersey public institution to compile demographic and election data to aid the commission, and posting maps online at least five days before the commission’s final vote. The investigators found no merit to allegations of improper data manipulation during the 2021 redistricting process. — Greg Giroux

PENNSYLVANIA: Answered to Snooki
Democrats in Pennsylvania will be choosing whether to give Harrisburg Councilwoman Shamaine Daniels another shot at Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry or let a 20-year Marine take a shot.

Former fighter pilot Mike O’Brien announced his candidacy this week, previewing a line of attack on “things like patriotism, national service and leadership.” He called Perry (R), known on Capitol Hill as a right-wing leadership whisperer, the “ringleader of the insurrection that attempted to overthrow our democracy.” Perry formally objected to Joe Biden’s statewide win after the Jan. 6, 2021 US Capitol riots.

In 2022, Perry was re-elected 54%-46% over underfunded challenger Daniels, who’s running again in a district that backed Donald Trump over Joe Biden by 4 percentage points.

O’Brien’s campaign said he raised more than $100,000 in 48 hours.

Fun fact: O’Brien’s call sign was “Snooki,” named for a character on the MTV reality show Jersey Shore that’s set in Seaside Heights, which O’Brien has often visited. —Greg Giroux

MICHIGAN: Marlinga 2.0
Carl Marlinga, a former Macomb County prosecutor and judge, is officially retrying to win the seat he barely lost last time.

Rep. John James (R) defeated him by one-half of 1 percentage point in the third-closest House race of 2022. “Nobody thought I would come close,” Marlinga (D) said in an interview.“ The 2022 race has now dispelled that myth. They know that if I am the Democratic nominee, they have a candidate that can go toe to toe with John James and win this.”

This time, Marlinga’s starting his campaign earlier (he began in March in 2022) and putting his emphasis on abortion and the environment (the 10th District abuts Lake Huron.) When Marlinga first surfaced his plans, the National Republican Congressional Committee took note of his 2002 House bid and said he’s seeking to become a “three time loser.” — Greg Giroux

VIRGINIA: Navy vs. Navy
A southeastern Virginia district with more military veterans than almost any other probably will again have two Navy veterans competing for its House seat. Missy Cotter Smasal (D), who was a surface warfare officer, announced a 2024 bid to unseat Rep. Jen Kiggans (R) in Virginia’s 2nd District, one of the 18 that voted Republican for House in 2022 after preferring Joe Biden for president in 2020.

Virginia’s 2nd District includes Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach and is close to Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s biggest naval base. Only Florida’s Pensacola-area 1st District has more civilian veterans, according to Census Bureau estimates.

Kiggans, a former Navy helicopter pilot, in 2022 unseated Rep. Elaine Luria, also a Navy veteran. — Greg Giroux


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To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bgov.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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