• OH Redistricting: Well, Democrats completely caved on redistricting, abandoning the idea of a referendum and voting in favor of a brutal GOP gerrymander. All of this transpired on Wednesday:
Democratic and Republican House leaders worked out a deal today on a new congressional map and a single 2012 primary on March 6, instead of the current split primary that moves presidential and congressional races to June.
The House passed the bill 77-17 tonight, and Senate action is expected later this evening.
Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, said the new map would contain at least two changes to an updated congressional map that Republicans offered in early November. The changes to that map appear to be limited to a minor move in the new 3rd District in Franklin County that ensures state Rep. Ted Celeste, D-Grandview Heights, who has filed to run for the seat, will live inside the district.
Keary McCarthy, chief of staff for House Minority Leader Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, said the map is “virtually” the same one that Democrats refused to support in early November, when they argued it did little to improve upon the competitiveness of the Republican’s original map, which was passed in September.
So those "tweaks" turned out to be utter crap, meaning we got absolutely nothing out of this. But get a load of this spin from Democrats:
“This is not an ideal map, but it is an improvement,” McCarthy said. “We have made great strides in shining some light on this issue. Everyday we have been discussing redistricting, we made the case for reform.”
They SHINED SOME LIGHT! WOW! So we're saddled with a brutal map that will elect 12 Republicans to just four Democrats, in a swing state last won by Barack Obama, but Democrats freakin' SHINED SOME LIGHT. Pathetic doesn't begin to describe it. So why did this happen? I can only speculate. But what I do know is that this is political malpractice of the highest order, and almost certainly the most disgusting failure during this redistricting season anywhere in the country.
• WI-Sen: This endorsement is unusual enough that it might actually move a vote or two: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, mostly known as a religious conservative, just gave his backing to former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (who is your standard-issue business conservative) as he seeks the GOP nomination for Senate. The two were both in office at the same time in the late `90s, so perhaps they struck up a friendship playing shuffleboard at RGA meetings, or whatever it is Republican governors do when they're alone together.
• CA-02: Ex-Rep. Dan Hamburg, who represented California's North Coast for a single term in the early 90s (in a district then numbered the 1st) just endorsed activist Norman Solomon in the Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Lynn Woolsey. Hamburg was perhaps ahead of the curve in California: In 1992, he beat Republican incumbent Frank Riggs, a former law enforcement agent, and became famous for saying "[Riggs] was a narc. I favor growing your own." Riggs won his seat back in the 1994 GOP revolution, and Hamburg later ran for governor on the Green Party ticket in 1998.
• GA-14: Damn, this is unfortunate news for cat fud lovers. After floating a possible run for two months, notorious Republican impeachment manager Bob Barr said he won't make a comeback bid after all. Barr had been looking at a primary challenge to fellow GOPer Tom Graves, but the Club for Growth said they'd get medieval on Barr's ass if he followed through. Barr didn't acknowledge this threat in his statement explaining that he wouldn't run, but he did endorse Graves for re-election. Really, too bad—it would have been great fun to see Barr get kicked around once more after all these years.
• MI-05: A local council of AFSCME has endorsed former Genesee County Treasurer Dan Kildee, who is seeking the seat of his uncle Dale, who is retiring. Kildee previously scored the backing of the UAW, and with successes like this, he seems to be emerging as the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nod.
• PA-11: Even though the new redistricting map would make GOP freshman Lou Barletta's 11th CD notably redder, and even though his house got moved just outside of the district, Democratic attorney Bill Vinsko says he's sticking with his run against Barletta. (Says Vinsko: “With a nine-iron I could hit a ball into the 11th from my yard.”) Vinsko's alternative would have been a primary challenge against fellow Dem Rep. Tim Holden in the 17th, the district Vinsko's hometown of Wilkes-Barre was shifted into. (And by the way, how stupid is Barletta? "I don’t know the last time somebody won a congressional seat that didn’t live in the district," he said. Well, I do know the last time! May 24, 2001. Look it up!)
• WI-01: Democratic hopeful Rob Zerban is out with a new internal poll from Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (aka "FM3") that The Fix says (scroll down) shows Republican Rep. Paul Ryan with a 53-32 lead on the initial ballot test. Those are not typically the kind of numbers you tout to the public, but Zerban undoubtedly wants people to focus on the fact that after respondents hear positives about both candidates and then a statement about Ryan's budget plan, the gap falls to 49-43. Zerban will need to show a lot of hustle to get his message out there, though, given than Ryan has $4.3 million in the bank—and the ability to raise much more.
• Blue Dogs: The House's Blue Dog Coalition just endorsed five Democratic candidates yesterday, two challenging Republicans—state Rep. Leonard Bembry (vs. Steve Southerland in FL-02), state Rep. Clark Hall (vs. Rick Crawford in AR-01)—and three running for open seats: Army veteran Brendan Mullen (IN-02), state Rep. Ted Vick (SC-07), and former U.S. Attorney Rob Wallace (OK-02). Earlier this year, the Blue Dogs showed remarkably boneheaded timing in endorsing Kate Marshall in the NV-02 special less than a week before election day, so I guess they learned that they need to get a slightly earlier start if they plan to have any impact. Anyhow, we'll see if these statements of support actually come with any real money attached, or if they're just endorsements in name only.
• The Rothenberg Political Report's Nathan Gonzales has just launched a cool new site called Politics in Stereo. The idea is simple: The site brings together top reporters and bloggers from the left and right, as well as non-partisan contributors, each on a state-by-state basis. They're starting with the first five primary states, so, for instance, they're featuring the singular Jon Ralston from Nevada and the excellent Democratic blog Blue Hampshire in, of course, New Hampshire. Nathan is also on the lookout for new contributors—if you think you might be interested, you can contact him here.
• PA Redistricting: Sean Trende has worked up the new congressional Pennsylvania map in Dave's Redistricting App and has Obama %ages for all 18 districts. Sean has also graciously provided his DRF file that represents the Pennsylvania map he created, so if you want to play with it in DRA, just download and enjoy (instructions here).