Democrats smell defeat, and chance to control redistricting in 2021

However, some Republicans acknowledge that the party faces a genuine threat in longtime conservative strongholds like Texas.

“The change was triggered in the midterm elections of November 2018. It was, ‘Oh boy, this is real, we better act together,’ said Brendan Steinhauser, a Republican strategist in Texas. “But I’m also not sure if the party solved it.”

Democrats are much more aware of the opportunity and risk of redistricting than in 2010. National Democratic groups, including the National Democratic Committee and the Association of Democratic Governors, have separate efforts to help Democrats compete in elections. electoral.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the campaign arm for state Democrats, is on track to raise and spend approximately five times more than during the last cycle of redistricting.

“Democratic donors across the country really understand the importance of legislative careers across the country,” said DLCC President Jessica Post, who was a junior employee there during the 2010 Republican wave.

National groups are looking to Texas not just because Biden is voting near Trump, but because Democrats need to gain control of at least one chamber of the state legislature to have a say on the state’s map of Congress.

Texas can win a handful of new seats in Congress after the Census. In 2018, Democrats overturned two seats in the state Senate and 12 in the state House. The nine seats in the state House of Representatives Democrats are seeking to change the house were brought by former Representative Beto O’Rourke when he ran for the Senate two years ago.

In an interview, O’Rourke said that years of litigation over state maps, and claims that those maps have diluted the power of voters of color, are motivating Democratic voters.

“People are talking about this and they understand that if we have a Democratic majority, we can not only help decide what those new Congressional districts will look like, but we can also help redesign existing House of Representatives, State Senate districts and the US Congress exclude black and brown voters in this state, “said O’Rourke.

O’Rourke is one of the highest-profile Democrats working to direct resources and care to obscure state races in states like Texas and North Carolina.

So is Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem, who in 2017 was the first openly transgender person to be elected to a state in the United States. Roem said he made Zoom calls to help raise money for state candidates or parties in places like North Carolina and Texas.

In some areas, Democrats do not need to win directly to advance their cause. In Kansas, his goal is to break the supermajority of the Republican House of Representatives so that Democratic Governor Laura Kelly can exercise her veto power over maps of Congress. To do that, they need to change one seat in the state House and two in the state Senate.

Democrats are focusing on races in states with independent redistricting commissions that have come under fire from Republicans. They include Michigan, where Republican lawmakers have tried to take control of funds for the district redistricting commission, and Arizona, where lawmakers have tried to divide a legislative district that is the only Native American majority in the state.

North Carolina is important for another reason. Despite having a Democratic governor, state rules prevent him from vetoing maps drawn by most of the Republican legislature.

Several factors make Democrats believe that this time it will be different. They have already made significant strides to thwart Republican mapmaking in 2021, including winning the Wisconsin and Michigan governorates and reelecting Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. They also forced to redraw some old maps that put them in a better position in places like North Carolina, and are encouraged by the recent participation in the Wisconsin and Georgia primaries during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the same time, with so much focus on presidential elections and Senate control, many Democrats are still concerned that ballot elections will shrink.

“The question is … given the extraordinary and appropriate emphasis on the presidential race and the extraordinary emphasis on regaining the Senate, we are going to lose the third leg of this stool, which is to lose control of the states and have this Congress and Gerrymandering legislative for another decade, “asked Tom Steyer, the billionaire climate activist who ran for president and has spent hundreds of millions to elect Democrats.

Steyer said he is buoyed by popular activity on the ground. Overall, though, he is still concerned about the broader “Republican playbook,” which he says includes redistributing districts, suppressing voters, and preventing the expansion of mail-in voting, if Democrats don’t remain vigilant. .

Dave Abrams, deputy executive director of the Republican State Leadership Committee, predicted that Democrats “will fail again” at the state level despite his renewed efforts. He said voters “will definitively reject the radical new liberal agenda that dismantles our nation and replaces it with a lawless society.”

But Texas House of Representatives Committee of Democrats chairman Chris Turner, who lost his state seat to the reassignment in 2010 and was later reelected, said recent polls showing Trump and Biden practically tied in Texas suggest that the president is slipping into the suburbs. That alone, he said, is a great incentive for national Democrats to play in the Lone Star state.

“We are very optimistic about 2020,” he said, noting the party’s gains in Texas in the 2018 midterms. “It is a total disaster of an environment for the Republican Party at the moment.”