Arkansas’ congressional map goes into effect

Arkansas enacted new congressional districts on Jan. 14 after the statutes establishing the map went into effect without Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) signature. Arkansas was apportioned four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, the same number it received after the 2010 census. This map will take effect for Arkansas’ 2022 congressional elections.

The Republican-controlled Arkansas General Assembly approved the map on Oct. 6, 2021, voting in favor of two separate yet identical bills and sending them to Hutchinson for approval. On Oct. 13, Hutchinson announced he would not sign the map into law, questioning the division of specific counties. Instead, Hutchinson let them go into effect without his signature. On Nov. 4, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) released a legal opinion establishing Jan. 14 as the map’s effective date.

Under the new map, two of the state’s counties will be split between multiple congressional districts: Sebastian County, which is split in two, and Pulaski County—the state’s most populous—split between three districts.

Opponents of the map said the division of Pulaski County, where less than 50% of the population identifies as white alone, was conducted along partisan and racial lines. Little Rock NAACP Chapter President Dianne Curry (D) said, “This is an embarrassment to the state of Arkansas to know in the 21st century we’re dealing with blatant discrimination.”

Supporters of the map said the county’s size and location in the center of the state necessitated its split so as to lower the total number of counties being split elsewhere. Arkansas GOP Chairwoman Jonelle Fulmer (R) said, “The new congressional districts are compact and keep community interests together. These lines are largely consistent with the existing lines, which were drawn by Democrats in 2010.” 

As of Jan. 14, 25 states have adopted new congressional maps, one has approved boundaries that have not yet taken effect, six were apportioned one congressional district, and 18 states have not yet adopted new congressional maps. As of Jan. 14 in 2011, 31 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

States have completed congressional redistricting for 274 of the 435 seats (63.0%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Redistricting in Arkansas after the 2020 census

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Connecticut Supreme Court appoints special master to assist in congressional redistricting

The Connecticut Supreme Court appointed Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford University law professor, as a special master to assist it in the congressional redistricting process on Dec. 23, 2021. On Dec. 28, the court rejected a request from the Republican members of the Connecticut Reapportionment Commission asking the court to select a different special master or appoint two special masters representing Democrats and Republicans. 

The court, in its rejection of the request, said: “We do not welcome unsolicited partisan filings and will not permit this Court to merely become an extension of the breakdown of the process the people of the state have commanded.”

Congressional mapmaking authority transferred to the court after the Connecticut Reapportionment Commission did not meet its initial Nov. 30 deadline to complete redistricting. The court granted the commission an extension to Dec. 21, which it also did not meet. The Connecticut Supreme Court’s deadline to draw a congressional map is Feb. 15, 2022.

Connecticut has completed its legislative redistricting, having enacted a state House map on Nov. 18 and a state Senate map on Nov. 23. The commission, made up of four Democratic lawmakers, four Republican lawmakers, and a ninth member selected by the commissioners, took over the redistricting process after the previous Reapportionment Committee failed to meet its Sept. 15 deadline to select maps and win two-thirds approval from both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly.

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U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes resigns

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) resigned from the House of Representatives on Dec. 31 to become CEO of former President Donald Trump’s (R) media company, Trump Media & Technology Group. 

Nunes began serving in the U.S. House in 2003, representing California’s 21st Congressional District until 2013. He won election in 2012 to represent the 22nd Congressional District and held that seat until 2021. He most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Democrat Phil Arballo, 54% to 46%. 

“I will deeply miss being your congressman. It’s been the honor of a lifetime to represent you, and I thank you for the trust you put in me through all these years,” Nunes said in an Instagram post.

U.S. House vacancies are filled by special election. Seven special elections have been called during the 117th Congress as of Jan. 3. There is already one special election scheduled in 2022 to complete a term in the House. Six special elections occurred in 2021: two in Louisiana, two in Ohio, one in New Mexico, and one in Texas. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will set the date of the special election to fill Nunes’ seat. The winner of the special election will serve out the remainder of Nunes’ term, which was set to expire on January 3, 2023. 

The current partisan breakdown of the U.S. House is 221 Democrats and 212 Republicans, with two vacancies. 

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Michigan citizen redistricting commission approves new congressional map

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) approved new congressional district boundaries by a vote of 8-5 on Dec. 28, 2021. Michigan was apportioned 13 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, one fewer than it received after the 2010 census. This map will take effect for Michigan’s 2022 congressional elections.

The vote approving the plan was supported by two Democrats, two Republicans, and four nonpartisan members, with the five remaining commissioners in favor of other plans. As required, the adopted map was approved by at least two commissioners who affiliate with each major party, and at least two commissioners who do not affiliate with either major party. The MICRC was established after voters approved a 2018 constitutional amendment that transferred the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to an independent redistricting commission. The maps will become law 60 days after the MICRC publishes a report on the redistricting plans with the secretary of state.

According to Politico, the map “will create battleground districts centered around the cities of Grand Rapids, Lansing and Flint. In a good year for the GOP, they could control as many as nine of the 13 districts. In an unfavorable environment for Republicans, that number could drop to four. Overall, the map creates seven districts that voted for now-President Joe Biden in 2020, and six that then-President Donald Trump carried last year.”

As of Jan. 3, 24 states have adopted new congressional maps, two have enacted maps that have not yet gone into effect, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 18 states have not yet adopted new congressional maps. As of Jan. 3 in 2012, 31 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

States have completed congressional redistricting for 274 of the 435 seats (63.0%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Forty members of Congress are not running for re-election

As of Dec. 21, 2021, 40 members of Congress—six members of the U.S. Senate and 34 members of the U.S. House—have announced they will not seek re-election. The latest member to announce their intent to not run in 2022, Lucille Roybal-Allard (D), announced her retirement from the House on Dec. 21. 

Roybal-Allard represents California’s 40th Congressional District and assumed office in 2013. She won re-election in 2020 against C. Antonio Delgado (R) with 73% of the vote to Delgado’s 27%. “After thirty years in the House of Representatives, the time has come for me to spend more time with my family. Therefore, I have decided not to seek reelection,” Roybal-Allard said.

Four other members of Congress, Stephanie Murphy (D), Alan Lowenthal (D), Devin Nunes (R), and Peter DeFazio (D), also announced this month that they will not run for re-election. Murphy has represented Florida’s 7th Congressional District since 2017. She won re-election in 2020 against challenger Leo Valentin (R) with 55% of the vote to Valentin’s 43%.

Representing California’s 47th Congressional District, Lowenthal assumed office in 2013 and announced his retirement on Dec. 16. He won re-election in 2020 against John Briscoe (R) with 63% of the vote to Briscoe’s 37%.

Nunes, who has represented California’s 22nd Congressional District since 2013, announced on Dec. 6 that he would not seek re-election. Nunes said he is planning to become CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group, a social media company founded by former President Donald Trump (R). He won re-election in 2020 against Phil Arballo (D) with 54% to Arballo’s 46%.

DeFazio represents Oregon’s 4th Congressional District. He assumed office in 1987 and is the longest-serving Congressperson member in Oregon history. He won re-election in 2020 against Alek Skarlatos (R) with 52% of the vote to Skarlatos’ 46%.

Of the 40 members not seeking re-election in 2022, 25 members—six senators and 19 representatives—have announced their retirement. Five retiring Senate members are Republicans and one is a Democrat, and of the retiring House members, 14 are Democrats and five are Republicans.

Fifteen U.S. House members are running for other offices. Four Republicans and four Democrats are seeking seats in the U.S. Senate, one Republican and two Democrats are running for governor, one Republican is running for secretary of state, one Democrat is running for mayor, and one Democrat and one Republican are running for attorney general. No U.S. Senate members are running for other offices.

Six of 11 wave elections in the U.S. House took place during a president’s first midterm election

The term wave election is frequently used to describe an election cycle in which one party makes significant electoral gains. With the 2022 Congressional elections approaching, the question of what qualifies as a wave election is once again gaining significance.

In a 2018 study, we examined the results of the 50 election cycles that occurred between 1918 and 2016—spanning from President Woodrow Wilson’s (D) second midterm in 1918 to Donald Trump’s (R) first presidential election in 2016. We defined wave elections as the 20 percent of elections in that period resulting in the greatest seat swings against the president’s party.

According to this definition, a U.S. House election cycle qualifies as a wave election if the president’s party loses at least 48 seats.

Between 1918 and 2016, 11 wave elections took place in the U.S. House. Six of these waves occurred during a president’s first midterm election. These six occurred under four Democratic presidents (Obama, Clinton, Johnson, and Truman) and two Republican presidents (Harding and Hoover). The president’s party lost an average of 58 seats in the U.S. House during these six elections.

As of Dec. 2, 2021, Democrats held 221 seats in the U.S. House. A wave election would result in them controlling no more than 173 seats in the chamber. Since the House grew to 435 seats in 1913, Democrats have held fewer than 173 seats twice: 131 during the 67th Congress (1921-1923) and 164 during the 71st Congress (1929-1931).

The 2018 U.S. House elections were the most recent first midterm election under President Donald Trump (R). Democrats won a majority in the chamber by gaining a net of 40 seats. The 2018 midterm election fell eight seats short of qualifying as a wave election.

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Two incumbent Democrats to face each other in U.S. House primary in Georgia

Incumbent Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath each won congressional districts in Georgia previously held by Republicans. McBath (6th District) is running for re-election in the newly drawn 7th District, which pits her against Bourdeaux in the Democratic primary.

Daily Kos wrote that Bourdeaux currently represents about 57% of the new 7th District, while McBath represents 12%. Bourdeaux’s portion is also more Democratic than McBath’s based on 2020’s presidential election results.

McBath said the Republican-led Legislature redrew her district because “they would like nothing more than to stop me from speaking truth to power about the gun lobby and Republican Party in Congress.” McBath worked for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense after her son was fatally shot in 2012. She defeated incumbent Rep. Karen Handel (R) 50.5% to 49.5% in 2018.  

Bourdeaux, a professor of public policy and former director of the state’s Senate Budget and Evaluation Office, won the open 7th District race in 2020. Bourdeaux said, “I’m disappointed, of course. … I have a lot of respect for Lucy McBath.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Patricia Murphy and Greg Bluestein wrote in September that “Bourdeaux drew the wrath of progressive groups — and [Stacey] Abrams allies — for joining other moderates with a stand that threatened to derail a $3.5 trillion social policy plan.” Bourdeaux joined nine other Democrats in saying she wouldn’t vote for a budget resolution needed to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda unless the House first voted on an infrastructure bill the Senate passed. Bordeaux said in August, “I believe in fiscal responsibility and that we need to pay for the things that we need to invest in, and I’m willing to stand up and talk about fiscal responsibility.” 

Ultimately, Bourdeaux withdrew from the effort and voted for the resolution. The House voted on the infrastructure bill and then the Build Back Better Act last month. Bourdeaux voted in favor of both.

In August, before the new district maps were drawn, Abrams endorsed McBath’s re-election bid, saying she “has not wavered on Georgia jobs and infrastructure, and she is a stalwart champion for our kids, for our democracy and more.”

Primaries are set to take place on May 24. 

In other Georgia news, Abrams announced on Dec. 1 that she is running for governor again. Current Gov. Brian Kemp (R) defeated Abrams 50% to 49% in 2018.

This story appeared in a Dec. 2 edition of The Heart of the Primaries, Ballotpedia’s newsletter capturing stories related to conflicts within each major party. Click here to see more stories from that edition and to find out how to subscribe.

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Checking in on the candidates for Congress in 2022

Next year’s Congressional midterm elections on Nov. 8, 2022, are less than one year away. Already, 1,444 candidates have filed to run for Congress. Of those candidates, 742 are Republicans, 573 are Democrats, and 20 are Libertarians. The remaining are Green Party, independents, or other parties. 

The states with the highest number of declared congressional candidates are California (141), Florida (138), and Texas (123). Delaware and Vermont are tied with the fewest declared candidates, with one each. Hawaii, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Rhode Island each have two.

On Nov. 8, 2022, 469 seats in Congress will be up for election. That total includes 34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats. The current partisan balance in the Senate is 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and two Independents who caucus with the Democrats. In the House, Democrats hold 221 seats, Republicans hold 213, and one seat is vacant.

As of Nov. 18, six members of the Senate and 25 members of the House have announced they are not seeking re-election.

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Redistricting map updates: proposals, advancements, and enactment between Nov. 10 and 17

At least 16 states progressed in either proposing, advancing, or enacting new congressional and state legislative districts maps as part of the 2020 redistricting cycle between Nov. 10 and Nov. 17, 2021.


California: On Nov. 10, five days before its deadline, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission released its first draft maps of the state’s Assembly, Senate, congressional, and Board of Equalization districts. The release of these drafts began a two-week moratorium, during which time the commission may not display any other new maps for public comment.

The commission will continue to hold meetings and line drawing sessions and may release new draft maps towards the end of November or in December. The commission has until Dec. 23 to display its final maps, which must be delivered to the secretary of state by Dec. 27.

This is the second redistricting cycle California has utilized a non-politician commission for redistricting. Voters in the state approved a ballot measure in 2008 creating the 14-person commission made up of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four members who are unaffiliated with either major party.

Florida: The Florida Senate Committee on Reapportionment released four draft maps of the state’s congressional and state Senate districts. Due to population growth, Florida was apportioned 28 congressional districts, up from the 27 it was apportioned following the 2010 census.

The House and Senate Committees on Reapportionment are holding interim meetings throughout the fall with the redistricting process set to officially begin at the start of the next legislative session on Jan. 11, 2022. 

Tennessee: On Nov. 15, Democratic lawmakers released a congressional redistricting plan. Republican lawmakers have not yet released any proposed maps. Scott Golden, chairman of the Tennessee GOP, said the pace was normal and that legislation would most likely be released in January 2022.


Georgia: On Nov. 12 and 15, the Georgia State Legislature approved maps redrawing the state’s 180 House districts and 56 Senate districts, respectively, sending the proposals to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) for final approval.

Democratic lawmakers said the proposals were partisan gerrymanders. State Rep. Bee Nguyen (D) said, “We are a 50-50 state … This map creates a 60-40 split with the advantage given to the Republican Party for the next 10 years.” Republican lawmakers said the maps met the required redistricting criteria and were created in a transparent fashion. State Rep. Bonnie Rich (R), chairwoman of the House redistricting committee, said, “Georgians have requested transparency and yes, we have given them transparency.”

Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Stephen Fowler said the proposed House map would create 97 Republican-leaning districts and 83 favoring Democrats. Fowler said the Senate map would likely elect 33 Republicans and 23 Democrats. Republicans currently hold a 103-77 majority in the House and a 34-22 majority in the Senate.

Ohio: On Nov. 15, Republican lawmakers in the state House and Senate released a joint congressional district map proposal. On Nov. 16, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 24-7 along party lines to approve the map.

Under congressional redistricting rules approved by Ohio voters in 2018, without bipartisan support, the proposed map may only be in effect for four years rather than the typical 10-year period. A congressional map must be supported by three-fifths of the legislature, including one-third of the minority party’s membership, in order to last for 10 years. Otherwise, a map can be enacted by a simple majority, but only apply for four years.

Ohio lost one congressional seat, leaving the state with 15 congressional districts, down from the 16 it was apportioned after the 2010 census.

South Carolina: The House Judiciary Committee voted 21-2 in favor of approving a new map of the state’s 124 House districts on Nov. 16. The Judiciary Committee received the proposal from a seven-member redistricting committee—four Republicans and three Democrats—which previously approved the map by a 7-0 vote. The Herald’s Zak Koeske wrote that the proposal splits 33 counties, creates two more Republican-leaning districts, and places ten incumbents—six Democrats and four Republicans—into districts with other incumbents. It will now advance to the full House for a vote. 

Wisconsin: The Republican-controlled State Assembly voted to approve new state legislative and congressional maps in a 60-38 party-line vote on Nov. 11. The Senate previously approved the maps on Nov. 8 with a 21-12 party-line vote. 

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D) said the maps were a partisan gerrymander, saying, “It is not normal in a 50-50 state to have 64 seats drawn to be more Republican.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said the maps met the criteria required for redistricting, saying, “It is the duty of the state Legislature laid out in our Wisconsin Constitution — not appointed commissions or the executive branch — to draw legislative districts.”

Prior to their passage, Gov. Tony Evers (D) said he would veto the proposals and ultimately did so on Nov. 18, sending redistricting to either a state or federal court depending on ongoing court cases.

Washington: The Washington State Redistricting Commission missed its Nov. 15 deadline to approve final congressional and state legislative maps to submit to the state legislature. Under state law, the redistricting authority now passes to the Washington Supreme Court, which has until April 30 to develop new district lines.

On Nov. 16, after missing the deadline, the commission released its approved congressional and state legislative district lines. While these lines do not carry any authority, the commission asked the state supreme court to use those agreed-upon lines when carrying out its newfound redistricting duties.


Four states—Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Utah—enacted new congressional maps between Nov. 10 and 17. Idaho, Nevada, and Utah also enacted new state legislative district maps along with Alaska, Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

As of Nov. 17, 14 states had finished their congressional redistricting and 20 had finalized their state legislative districts.

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Five members of Congress announced their retirement in October

On October 29, 2021, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) announced he would not seek re-election in 2022, making him the fifth congressional incumbent to do so in October of this year. Reps. Michael Doyle (D), David Price (D), and John Yarmuth (D) also announced their retirement in October, and Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D) announced he would run for attorney general of Maryland instead of another term in Congress.

Kinzinger was first elected to represent Illinois’ 11th Congressional District in 2010 and Illinois’ 16th Congressional District in 2012. He was one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump (R) for incitement of insurrection of January 13, 2021.

Doyle was first elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District in 1994. He was elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District in 2002 following redistricting, and then the 18th Congressional District again in 2018.

Price served four terms in the U.S. House from 1987 to 1995. He was elected to represent North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District in 1996 after losing re-election in 1994. 

Brown was elected to represent Maryland’s 4th Congressional District in 2016. Brown was lieutenant governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015 and a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1999 to 2007.

As of November 1, 2021, 29 members of Congress—five members of the U.S. Senate and 24 members of the U.S. House—have announced they will not run for re-election. Seventeen members—five senators and 12 representatives—are retiring. All five retiring Senate members are Republicans, and of the retiring House members, eight are Democrats, and four are Republicans.

Twelve U.S. House members are running for other offices. Four Republicans and three Democrats are running for the U.S. Senate. One Republican and one Democrat are running for governor, one Republican is running for secretary of state, one Democrat is running for mayor, and one Democrat is running for attorney general. No U.S. Senate members are running for other offices.

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