And now, because these premature maps had to rely on older population estimates collected through a Census Bureau survey program, they’re ripe to invite litigation. On the state level, for which the bureau recently released data from the 2020 census, those estimates proved to be badly off in many cases compared to the actual census figures. That problem is likely to be exacerbated when looking at the smaller geographies necessary to cobble together electoral districts.
Also concerning for Democrats as well as reformers is the fact that the new maps passed with almost unanimous support, much as they did a decade ago. On a strictly partisan basis, it means that Democratic lawmakers signed on to yet another gerrymander designed to favor the GOP, as one analysis has already shown.
While Oklahoma, as a deep red state, would remain under Republican control even with a genuinely balanced map, there’s no legitimate reason for one political party to vote for the other side’s gerrymanders. Doing so only consigns the minority party to even fewer seats and sends the wrong kind of message both to lawmakers (about the kind of defections leadership will tolerate on other matters) and voters (about the willingness of their elected officials to demonstrate backbone).
There is, however, a deeply illegitimate reason for Democrats to get on board with a map that locks in an unfair advantage for Republicans: because it preserves their own districts, ensuring they’ll have safe seats in which to seek re-election. These kinds of arrangements are known as “incumbent-protection” gerrymanders, and they’re exactly the type of pernicious back-room deal that redistricting reformers abhor because they promote political entrenchment instead of voter fairness.
Worst of all, Republicans can now use the support they’ve won from Democrats to defend the new maps from charges that they are in fact unfair, simply by pointing to the bipartisan nature of the roll call. Votes like these are useful in the court of public opinion, but they’re even more helpful in actual courtrooms: In 2019, a panel of judges in North Carolina rejected challenges to the state’s newest legislative maps in part because state Senate Democrats joined with Republicans to approve them, despite their deep flaws.
Again, given the questionable data underpinning Oklahoma’s new maps, a legal fight may very well ensue, but Democrats might have just made such a challenge more difficult.
● AZ-Sen: Local pollster OH Predictive Insights has offered up a new survey pitting Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly against a variety of potential Republican opponents, some more likely than others. The numbers are very similar across the board, with Kelly sitting in the mid-to-high 40s and Republicans in the mid-30s, putting the incumbent up about 10 points against almost all comers.
The closest matchup finds Kelly ahead 44-35 on former Arizona National Guard chief Michael McGuire, who (like all of the Republicans tested) was identified along with his title. That’s something of an unusual choice, but early in an election cycle when would-be challengers are so little-known, it can make sense to ask questions this way—and in any event, the inclusion of titles doesn’t seem to have affected the outcomes much if at all, given how similar they all are.
The one pairing that looks a bit different features Kelly versus Navy veteran Jack McCain, son of the late Sen. John McCain, who previously held this seat. The survey finds Kelly up 44-29 on the younger McCain, whose 56% support among GOP voters is more than a dozen points below that of any other Republican included in the poll, which may reflect conservative antipathy toward the McCain name that crescendoed during the former senator’s long feud with Donald Trump. Last year, Jack McCain said he did not “have any immediate plans to run for office,” and his name has not come up as a possible Kelly foe since.
● FL-Sen: Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy’s team is pushing back on a report from Axios this week that said she’d launch a campaign against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio next month, saying that the congresswoman “has not made a decision on whether to run.”
● MO-Sen: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who said he was considering a Senate bid shortly after Republican Sen. Roy Blunt announced his retirement in March, reiterated his interest this week during a trip to D.C. to meet with unspecified Democratic officials. He did not, however, offer a timetable for making a decision.
● CA-21: Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio, who recently filed paperwork to create a campaign committee with the FEC, announced on Wednesday that he’d run for California’s 21st Congressional District, which is currently held by Republican Rep. David Valadao. Osorio, a Democrat and vocal Bernie Sanders backer, was elected to his current post last year at the age of 25.
● FL-13: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman says he has “not ruled out the possibility” of seeking Florida’s newly open 13th Congressional District, adding that the race is “on my radar.” Kriseman, a Democrat, unseated Republican Bill Foster in 2013 and won re-election four years later, though he’s prevented by term limits from running for his current post again.
● FL-27: Florida Politics reports that three different Democratic politicians are considering challenges to freshman Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar in the state’s 27th Congressional District: state Rep. Nick Duran, Miami City Councilman Ken Russell, and former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who flipped the neighboring 26th District in 2018 but narrowly lost her bid for re-election last year.
● GA-10: Trucking executive Mike Collins, who is the son of former Rep. Mac Collins and sought the GOP nomination the last time Georgia’s 10th Congressional District came open, has filed paperwork with the FEC ahead of a possible return engagement. Collins finished just a hair behind Jody Hice (who’s now running for secretary of state) in the 2014 Republican primary after then-Rep. Paul Broun decided to run for the Senate but lost the runoff by a wider 54-46 margin.
● NM-01: Republican state Sen. Mark Moores’ latest ad goes after Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury on police reform, complete with horror movie-style sound effects of a woman screaming. The spot chiefly attacks Stansbury for supporting the activist-drafted BREATHE Act, which would, among other things, “[d]ivest federal resources from incarceration and policing” and mandate “full decarceration of federal detention facilities within 10 years.” The bill has not been introduced in Congress.
● TX-06: Gov. Greg Abbott has scheduled the all-Republican special election runoff in Texas’ 6th Congressional District for July 27, with early voting to begin on July 19. The race pits conservative activist Susan Wright, the widow of the late Rep. Ron Wright, against state Rep. Jake Ellzey. Wright, boosted by a late Donald Trump endorsement, led Ellzey, whose most prominent backer is former Gov. Rick Perry, by a 19-14 margin in the first round of voting, which featured 23 candidates.
● Anchorage, AK Mayor: An additional 4,000 votes were tabulated late Wednesday, and conservative Dave Bronson took a 278-vote lead after previously trailing Democrat Forrest Dunbar by 114 votes. A total of 76,000 votes have now been counted, and because domestic ballots can be received as late as May 21, it’s not clear how many are left.