Welcome to the Friday, November 19, Brew.
By: Doug Kronaizl
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Redistricting updates in Nevada, Utah, and Washington
- Recall of Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant scheduled for Dec. 7
- Texas Rep. Ryan Guillen leaves Democratic Party and announces re-election bid as a Republican
Redistricting updates in Nevada, Utah, and Washington
It has been a busy week for states completing their redistricting processes. Two states—Nevada and Utah—enacted new redistricting plans on Tuesday. The same day, Washington’s Redistricting Commission announced it had missed its statutory deadline to finalize its maps. Here’s a breakdown:
Nevada: Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed the state’s new congressional and legislative maps into law on Nov. 16, which will take effect during the 2022 election cycle.
The Nevada Senate approved the redistricting plans by a 12-9 vote on Nov. 14 followed by the state Assembly voting 25-17 on Nov. 16. The maps were passed largely along party lines, with Democrats voting to approve and Republicans voting against.
After signing the maps, Sisolak said, “After a thoughtful, efficient and productive session, I am proud to sign these bills into law today. These maps reflect Nevada’s diversity and reflect public feedback gathered throughout the legislative process.” State Assm. Melissa Hardy (R) criticized the maps, saying, “A process that affects every person living in the state … deserves to be thoroughly vetted and questioned by this body as a whole. Instead, there are a lack of answers to questions posed, an inability to ask questions of those who have the answers, and an overall lack of transparency throughout.”
Utah: Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed new state legislative districts for both chambers into law on Nov. 16. The state legislature approved the House and Senate district maps on Nov.10.
Both proposals differed from those presented to the legislature by Utah’s Independent Redistricting Commission on Nov. 1. The commission presented 12 maps (three each for House, Senate, congressional, and school board districts) to the Legislative Redistricting Committee. Utah previously enacted its new congressional district map on Nov. 12.
Washington: On Nov. 16, the Washington Redistricting Commission announced that it did not produce new congressional and legislative redistricting plans by its Nov. 15 deadline. According to state law, the authority to draw new maps now rests with the Washington Supreme Court, which has until April 30, 2022, to produce new maps. Although past the deadline, the commission ultimately agreed upon map plans on Nov. 16 and submitted them to the state supreme court for consideration.
In Washington, congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn by a five-member non-politician commission that was established by a constitutional amendment in 1983. The majority and minority leaders of the state Senate and House each appoint one registered voter to the commission. These four commissioners then appoint a fifth, non-voting member to serve as chair.
After the 2010 census, the commission agreed upon new congressional and legislative district plans on Jan. 1, 2012, which was the deadline for them to approve maps before authority over redistricting would have passed to the state supreme court.
Overall: As of Nov. 17, 14 states have adopted congressional district maps and 20 have completed state legislative redistricting. These maps account for 111 of the 435 districts (25.5%) in the U.S. House and 2,467 of the 7,383 state legislative seats (33.4%) nationwide. At this point in the 2010 redistricting cycle, 26 states had completed congressional redistricting and 29 had finished drawing state legislative lines.
Recall of Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant scheduled for Dec. 7
On Dec. 7, 2021, voters in Seattle, Wash., will decide whether to recall District 3 City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant.
Sawant is a member of the Socialist Alternative Party and, upon her election in 2013, was the first socialist elected to Seattle city government in 97 years.
Petitioners allege three grounds for the recall against Sawant: misusing city funds for electioneering purposes, disregarding regulations related to the coronavirus pandemic, and misusing her official position. Sawant responded, saying the recall effort was politically motivated and asked a state superior court to dismiss the petition. The Washington Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the recall could proceed.
Supporters of Sawant collected signatures for the recall in an effort to have it placed on the Nov. 2 ballot when turnout is typically higher. The official recall campaign submitted signatures on Sept. 8 and the recall was scheduled for Dec. 7.
As of Nov. 2, the Kshama Solidarity campaign, supportive of the councilwoman, had raised $798,422. The Recall Sawant campaign had raised $684,191.
This is one of 12 city council recall efforts we have tracked in the 100 largest cities in 2021. Six of those efforts were in four California cities (Los Angeles, Riverside, Anaheim, and San Diego). Three were in Anchorage, Alaska. The other two were in Kansas City, Mo., and Austin, Texas. Five efforts did not go to a vote, five are underway, and two were defeated.
Since Ballotpedia began tracking recalls in 2008, we have not tracked a successful recall of a city council member in Washington.
Texas Rep. Ryan Guillen leaves Democratic Party and announces re-election bid as a Republican
On Nov. 15, 2021, Texas state Rep. Ryan Guillen (R) announced he was leaving the Democratic Party.
“After much thought and much prayer with my family, today I am announcing that I’ll proudly be running as a Republican to represent house district 31,” Guillen said in a press conference held with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and House Speaker Dade Phelan (R).
Guillen most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Marian Knowlton (R) 58-40%. He first assumed office in 2003 after running unopposed in the general election.
From 2010 to 2021, Ballotpedia has counted 124 state legislators who have switched parties while in office. During that time, 83 legislators left the Democratic Party (60 to become Republicans and 23 to some other affiliation), 31 left the Republican Party (11 to become Democrats and 20 to some other affiliation), and 10 switched away from being independent or members of a third party (four to become Democrats, five to become Republicans, and one switched from independent to Green).