Welcome to the Wednesday, February 23, Brew.
By: Samuel Wonacott
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Redistricting roundup—North Carolina and Rhode Island
- Buckle up—Texas’ statewide primaries are six days away!
- Election spotlight: Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary
Redistricting roundup—North Carolina and Rhode Island
We’re entering the final stretch of state legislative and congressional redistricting—though nobody can say how long this final stretch will last. To date, 35 states have completed congressional redistricting and 36 states have completed state legislative redistricting.
Let’s take a look at the latest updates from North Carolina and Rhode Island.
A three-judge panel of the Wake County Superior Court is expected to decide the state’s new congressional and legislative district boundaries on Feb. 23 (today). After blocking the legislature’s original maps last year, the North Carolina Supreme Court directed the panel to select new maps and submit them for approval.
North Carolina has a Democratic triplex and a divided trifecta. Democrats control the offices of governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature. North Carolina’s Supreme Court is composed of four Democrats and three Republicans.
Let’s take a quick look at a timeline of how we got here:
- Nov. 4, 2021: The North Carolina General Assembly enacts new congressional and legislative maps. The state House of Representatives approved the congressional district boundaries 65-49, and the state Senate approved them 27-22. North Carolina’s governor cannot veto redistricting plans.
- Nov. 16, 2021: Two sets of plaintiffs file lawsuits in Wake County Superior Court challenging both sets of maps, arguing they diluted the voting power of people of color and were examples of partisan gerrymanders.
- Dec. 8, 2021: The North Carolina Supreme Court postpones the state’s 2022 primary elections from March 8 to May 17.
- Jan. 11, 2022: A three-judge panel of the Wake County Superior Court rules the congressional and legislative district plans are constitutional.
- Feb. 4, 2022: The North Carolina Supreme Court rules 4-3 that the state’s enacted congressional and legislative maps are unconstitutional and gives the legislature until Feb. 18 to redraw the maps.
- Feb. 18, 2022: The North Carolina General Assembly approves new congressional and legislative redistricting plans.
The Superior Court panel can either select the maps that the legislature approved, choose maps submitted by the parties to the original lawsuits, or it can draw its own. Candidate filing for the 2022 elections resumes this week.
Governor Dan McKee (D) enacted new congressional district boundaries on Feb. 16. The General Assembly approved the map on Feb. 15, when the state House passed it 57-6 (53 Democrats and four Republicans voted in favor and four Republicans and two Democrats voted against) and the state Senate passed it 29-9 (no Republicans voted yes, while five Republicans and four Democrats voted no).
The Providence Journal’s Patrick Anderson and Katherine Gregg wrote, “ruling Democrats didn’t make major map changes to protect the state’s Second Congressional District from a GOP takeover attempt, even after incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin announced he would not run for reelection. In the last redistricting a decade ago, the Assembly shifted tens of thousands of Democratic voters from the second district into the first district, benefitting Rep. David Cicilline, who was facing his first reelection campaign.”
Texas holds statewide primaries in six days
On March 1, Texas will hold the first statewide primaries of the 2022 election cycle.
To help you ease into the upcoming primary season, we’ve periodically featured Texas primary election summaries over the last few weeks. Below, you’ll find a list of those races we featured in the Brew. Refresh your memory before March 1 or dive into a race you missed!
- Texas’ 28th Congressional District Democratic primary
- Texas’ 8th Congressional District Republican primary
- Texas’ 15th Congressional District Republican primary
- Texas Attorney General Republican primary
- Texas Attorney General Democratic primary
- Texas gubernatorial Republican primary
- Texas’ 30th Congressional District Democratic primary
You can find a full list of Texas elections here.
Texas is the only state with a statewide primary in March. April, with no statewide primaries, is the calm before the storm. The primary schedule gets more crowded in May and June, when a combined 30 states will hold primaries.
With 34 U.S. Senate seats and all 435 U.S. House districts in play, control of both chambers of Congress is up for grabs. At the state level, 36 gubernatorial seats and 6,166 state legislative seats are on the ballot (Democrats control 22 governorships and 44.3% of state legislative seats, while Republicans control 28 governorships and 54.4% of state legislative seats). And we haven’t even mentioned the other state executive, judicial, and local elections happening this year.
It can be a lot to keep up with, but we’re here to help you make sense of this very busy election cycle. Be sure to subscribe to The Heart of the Primaries, our weekly digest of the key congressional, legislative, and executive primary battles.
Election spotlight: Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary
We’ve talked a lot about Texas primaries in recent weeks, so let’s look at some other primaries this spring, starting with Nebraska. Incumbent Jeff Fortenberry, Mike Flood, and John Weaver are running in the Republican primary for Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District on May 10. This is the first contested Republican primary in the district since 2014.
The Lincoln Journal Star‘s Don Walton has described the matchup as “the first bigtime GOP contest in the eastern Nebraska congressional district since … 2004.”
Fortenberry was first elected to the 1st District in 2004. He has campaigned on his legislative record, saying he would continue to deliver results “to strengthen our national security, stop devastating healthcare costs, and build a new vision for jobs, our environment, and our communities.” On Oct. 19, 2021, a federal grand jury indicted Fortenberry after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California alleged he lied to investigators during a 2016 investigation concerning illegal contributions made to his re-election campaign. Fortenberry said he was unaware of the contributions and had cooperated with investigators. Fortenberry pleaded not guilty on Oct. 20, 2021, and the trial is scheduled to begin in March. Former Omaha Mayor and 2nd District Representative Hal Daub (R) endorsed Fortenberry.
Flood is a member of the Nebraska Senate. He first served in the chamber from 2005 to 2013 and was re-elected in 2020. From 2007 to 2013, he served as speaker of the Senate. Flood highlighted Fortenberry’s indictment in his campaign announcement, saying, “If our nominee has to focus on beating felony criminal charges instead of defeating a serious Democrat opponent, we risk defeat in November.” Current and former Govs. Pete Ricketts (R) and Dave Heineman (R) endorsed Flood.
The 1st District is located in eastern Nebraska surrounding the outskirts of Omaha and includes population centers like Lincoln, Norfolk, and Columbus. While district lines have changed, Republicans have represented the 1st District continuously since 1967. From 2006 to 2020, Fortenberry’s average re-election margin of victory was 32 percentage points.
The filing deadline for this race was Feb. 15, meaning the final candidate list may change as election officials validate ballot requirements.