Status Quo Maps Minimize Primary Drama: Ballots & Boundaries

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Today’s primaries stand out for what redistricting didn’t do.

Courts in Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin all implemented “least change” status-quo maps that didn’t materially favor or disfavor a party or candidate. (And Vermont, also holding its primary today, has just one district.)

Connecticut Republicans, who haven’t won a House election since 2006, probably need a GOP wave to unseat either Rep. Joe Courtney or Rep. Jahana Hayes. The Connecticut map moved ever so slightly, with 5,000 people bumpted from Hayes’s district. The state parties canceled the primaries after endorsing the two incumbents and challengers Mike France and George Loganse.

In Minnesota, the 2nd District in the southern Twin Cities suburbs became a little friendlier to Democrats, but it’s still a Nov. 8 battleground where Rep. Angie Craig (D) can expect a second consecutive close race against Republican Tyler Kistner. There, too, state parties canceled today’s primaries. There’ll be a Craig-Kistner showdown in November.

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court adopted a map submitted by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers over one preferred by Republican operatives. But it may not prevent Democrats from losing control of the western 3rd District, where Democrat Ron Kind is retiring. Four Democrats are vying for the nomination to replace him: Evers economic development appointee Rebecca Cooke; former Army Captain and CIA officer Deb McGrath; pediatrician Mark Neumann; and state Sen. Brad Pfaff. The winner will square off against Republican retired Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden. — Greg Giroux

Read More: Minnesota Special Election, Four State Primaries Set on Tuesday

Election Conduct

NEVADA: TRASHING PAPER
County commissioners in rural Nevada appointed a new top election official who has denied that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election and promises to implement plans to count every ballot by hand, in place of electronic vote tabulating machines.

Republican Mark Kampf will succeed veteran county Clerk Sam Merlino.

Kampf has received support from Jim Marchant, the Republican Party’s nominee for secretary of state and a leader of the “America First” coalition of candidates who deny the validity of the 2020 election. Marchant said Kampf’s appointment would allow the county to implement a new voting system “that we can roll out all over the country.” — Associated Press

META TOO QUIET?
Facebook owner Meta is quietly curtailing some of the safeguards designed to thwart voting misinformation or foreign interference in US elections—a pivot that’s raising alarms about how some might exploit the world’s most popular social media platforms to spread misleading claims, launch fake accounts and rile up partisan extremists.

“They’re not talking about it,” said former Facebook policy director Katie Harbath, now the CEO of the tech and policy firm Anchor Change. “Best case scenario: They’re still doing a lot behind the scenes. Worst case scenario: They pull back, and we don’t know how that’s going to manifest itself for the midterms on the platforms.” Associated Press

  • New York City’s Board of Elections got confused. (Gothamist)
  • Arizona county underestimated turnout and ran out of ballots. (AP)
  • A Florida county elections chief says he’s tired of “outright lies” from his fellow Republicans. (Orlando Sentinel)

Ballot Issues

ARKANSAS: IN COURT
An effort to change Arkansas from a medical-marijuana state to an adult-legalization marijuana state is now in court.

Backers are challenging the state Board of Election Commissioners’ decision to reject the ballot question because of what it deemed a misleading title. Responsible Growth Arkansas had submitted more than double the signatures needed to let residents 21 years and older possess marijuana.

Now we’ll be watching how fast the state Supreme Court acts because time is short for locking down what will be on the general election ballot.

If the pot proposal goes to voters this year, a simple majority can change the Constitution. If the amendment doesn’t get onto the ballot, it’s possible that a 60% supermajority threshold would have to be hit in the future. The Arkansas electorate will decide in November whether to raise the bar.

Read more from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. — Tiffany Stecker

Razor’s Edge Races

Another in a series spotlighting close congressional contests after redistricting changes.
Today: California’s 27th District
Where Is It? Northern Los Angeles County in southern California. The district includes Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, and a small part of the city of Los Angeles.
Who Drew It? California’s independent redistricting commission.
2020 Presidential Vote: Joe Biden 55%, Donald Trump 43%

Source: California Citizens Redistricting Commission

Demographics: 42% Hispanic, 34% White, 10% Black, 9% Asian
Cook Political Report rating: Toss Up
Nominees: Rep. Mike Garcia (R), Christy Smith (D)
What To Watch: Garcia’s re-election got a little tougher after redistricting excised Republican-leaning Simi Valley in Ventura County. Biden’s 2020 election margin of victory would have been 12 percentage points in the reconfigured 27th District, up from 10 points previously. Garcia is facing Smith, a former California assemblywoman, for the third straight election. Garcia soundly defeated Smith in a May 2020 special election, then held on to win by just 333 votes that November. Garcia opposed most Republicans and voted with Democrats for a fiscal 2022 omnibus spending law, a bill that would codify same-sex marriage, and a measure to support more domestic semiconductor research and development. Smith is making his opposition to abortion rights a major contrast in the race. — Greg Giroux

Next edition: Michigan’s 3rd

Caught Our Eye

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com

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