I didn’t want to blog on my birthday about real newsworthy stuff, but this is just too important.
The first map of the proposed Congressional redistricting in Missouri around only 8 seats now have leaked out. Because this is a Google Map, you can scroll in and out to see the exact boundaries down to street level.
And just like we all knew, Russ Carnahan is the one that’s still standing up after the music stopped and nine people have to scramble for eight chairs. Overall, the new map seems to be gerrymandered around the best chances for a 6-2 Republican majority for the next decade. (Though I should say, as you will read, the Republicans are taking bit of a chance putting various parts of Jefferson County in 3 and 8 — I guess they’re assuming that JeffCo turning red in 2010 is a permanent thing and not just a one-election fluke.) Also, at least on the Missouri sides of both metro areas, there will still be four Congressional districts within the urbanized/suburbanized/exurbanized footprint of the St. Louis region, three KC. The main difference, and this is the one that’s going to cause consternation out of Room 200 at Tucker and Market, is that all of St. Louis City is within one Congressional district.
While no part of Missouri is specifically under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, you can bet that if the civil rights industry in this state has any fears about this map, it’ll take the matter to the Federal court system. And in one instance, I think they will complain.
MO-1: All of St. Louis City, and almost all of the blackest parts of St. Louis County, and a few white liberal parts of the County for good measure. Job insurance for Lazy Clay. The civil rights crowd will be happy, even if Mayor Slay won’t be. The parts of Rock Hill south of Manchester are drawn into 1 because they’re the black sections of Rock Hill. Russ Carnahan lives in South City, so he would have to run against Clay in the Democrat Primary for 1 in August of next year. A primary Clay would win handily.
MO-2: All of St. Louis County that’s not in 1, including all of South County, and also the geographical southern half of St. Charles County, and a wee slight bit of northern Jefferson County, mainly Fenton and High Ridge. Pretty much job insurance for Todd Akin, or any Republican. Thanks to the New 2 including lower class whites in Lemay and a chunk of Jewish voters in Creve Coeur, a very blue year nationally could flip this district blue on a temporary basis. But that’s about it. If Akin was only toying with a Senate run in fear of what they would do to his district, his worries are over.
MO-3: Northern St. Charles County, all of Franklin, Warren and Lincoln Counties, and northern Jefferson County including the city of Arnold. Also includes most of East Central Missouri. Includes Fulton, Jefferson City and the Lake of the Ozarks. Blaine Luetkemeyer currently lives in the geography. I think he won’t have many problems holding it, though since it now includes northern Jefferson County, and Jefferson County’s whites, in spite of last November, still trend Democrat, a very tall blue wave nationally could turn 3 blue on a temporary basis. If 2010 is a sea change and Jefferson County is starting in on being at least light red, then MO-3 is guaranteed to remain Republican. FYI, the line between 2 and 3 in St. Charles County is about a line that extends from about the Blanchette Bridge to New Melle.
MO-4: Not way too different from the existing 4, but instead of Cole County and Jefferson City, it now includes Boone County and Columbia. Also Fort Leonard Wood. That 4 will now include the most liberal part of rural Missouri (University of Missouri) means that 4 will only be a light red district, not a deep red one. I’d be a little nervous if I were Vicky Hartzler. Maybe the redistricting committee thinks that Columbia and the far southern suburbs of Kansas City will cancel each other out, and the rest of the area will keep 4 in the red. Interesting that Ike Skelton’s old district just got another military base added to it.
MO-5: Here’s where the civil rights fit is going to hit the shan. All of Kansas City’s black population stays in 5, but they also throw in a lot of west central Missouri geography, including Richmond, Marshall and Lexington. Now, those areas don’t come close to neutralizing the black vote in Kansas City, and in fact, the new 5 might be even bluer than the old 5, because heavy chunks of white Republican Kansas City suburbs like Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs are thrown into MO-6. I think that, while the Republicans will never win this district, I think this new geography is vulnerable enough for a white Democrat to pick off Emanuel Cleaver such that the NAACP will whine. If this map goes into Federal court, will be because of 5.
MO-6: About the northern two-fifths of the state, and it sneaks down into parts of the KC suburbs of Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs. Pike County and Bowling Green is as close as the new 6 gets to the St. Louis area. Sam Graves isn’t going to the political graveyard anytime soon with this map.
MO-7: Springfield, Branson, Joplin. Sound familiar? It’s basically the old 7 plus a few counties to the east. Safe Republican. Over the very long term, the explosion in the Hispanic population in Southwest Missouri will mean that this district turns from dark red to light red than to swing status, but that’s not relevant to the next ten years. Currently Billy Long’s, and it seems like it’ll stay that way.
MO-8: Southeast and South Central Missouri, including southern and central Jefferson County. Between 1970 and 1980, the last decade when Missouri had 10 House seats, this district did extend as far north as southern Jefferson County, but it didn’t go very far west. In 1980 and then again in 1990, the Democrats that ran the redistricting process in Jefferson City protected Dick Gephardt by giving him all of Jefferson County then all of Ste. Genevieve County. But with Missouri going down from 9 to 8 seats, it is no surprise that 8 is once again in the St. Louis metropolitan area, as close as Imperial. On the other hand, it only goes as far west as West Plains and Howell County — During the last decade, 8 extended almost to Branson. However, they had to give that area back to MO-7 in order to make its population about one-eighth of the state. (From 1990 to 2000, 8 did go no further west than Howell County.) Putting central/southern Jefferson and all of Ste. Gen in Jo Ann Emerson’s district probably means that her margins of victory won’t be as wide in the future. I also think that when she retires, and should the race be between a Tommy Sowers blue dog type (a legit one, not a fake like Sowers) and a RINO like Emerson, and if the national atmosphere is right (e.g. 2006), 8 could turn blue. But, like I said in MO-3, if 2010 is a sea change meaning Jefferson County and working class whites in general are light red politically speaking, and 2010 wasn’t just a reactionary outburst, then MO-8 is safe Republican.
UPDATE: If this map happens, then say for example you get on southbound I-55 at the Carondelet exit, travel 16 miles and get off at the Imperial Main St. exit. Your journey will encompass four Congressional districts. Today, that is all within one district.
UPDATE 4/1: Talk about your Rashomon Effect — Channel 5 and the P-D cover the exact same public meeting over this proposed map. The former says the debate was “heated,” while the latter says that only three people showed up and they might as well seen the Maytag Repairman. I tend to believe the latter’s take. As far as any criticism, the simple fact of the matter is that Missouri lost a House seat and the Republicans run the map-drawing process. There’s no way you can divide 5.9 million people into eight almost equally populated pieces without making someone unhappy. However, I think the criticism leveled by Rep. Ron Casey (D-Crystal City) might hit its mark — Jefferson County will be divided into MO-3 in the north and MO-8 in the south, and even parts of Fenton (Jefferson County’s side) and High Ridge will be in MO-2. I think Casey’s words are designed to hit a mark inside the Governor’s Mansion — Don’t forget that Governor Nixon is a Jefferson Countian. If Casey and the JeffCo Democrats in the General Assembly think they can make enough noise about Jefferson County being divided, they can get the Governor to veto this map.
UPDATE 4/2: Clay and Carnahan being lopped into the same district has made the front page of The Hill. That article quotes some Missouri Democrats denouncing this proposed map as being “too partisan.” Well, duh. I mean, Democrats never draw district maps to favor Democrats.
Also, I’ve been thinking about the boundary between MO-1 and MO-2, and the fact that Mayor Slay is going to bitch about all of the city being in MO-1. Like I said in MO-2, putting Jewish voters in Creve Coeur in MO-2 puts Akin at a bit of a disadvantage. Don’t forget, Mark Kasen, who at least at the time lived in Chesterfield, admitted on air that the one and only time he’s ever voted for anything Republican was in the 2000 Republican Primary for MO-2, after Jim Talent left to run for Governor, in order to keep Todd Akin from winning, because Kasen hates non-Marxist Christians. That probably means Kasen voted for Gene McNary, because by the time election day came around, it was clear that either McNary or Akin would win, so in Kasen’s mind, a vote for McNary was the only way to vote against Akin. So in order to keep Akin safe and make Slay happy, I propose an amendment to this map: Change the boundary between 1 and 2 slightly — Shift certain white and cop-filled South St. Louis City neighborhoods like St. Louis Hills and Boulevard Heights (where Slay lives) to MO-2, and give the Jewish neighborhoods in Creve Coeur and some neighborhoods in Maryland Heights that are becoming more and more black by the year to MO-1. That way, the City will be technically under two Congressional districts with Mayor Slay being an Akin constituent and not a Clay constituent, shutting Slay up, and Akin will be safer because he’s far more likely to get the vote of a white SLPD officer who lives around the corner of Hampton and Eichelberger, or around Morganford and Loughborough, than the Mark Kasens of Creve Coeur or the blacks flooding Maryland Heights apartment complexes.
UPDATE 4/4: I’ve been thinking about the prospects of Gov. Nixon vetoing this map. The Senate is more than two-thirds Republican, so they would override the veto. And while the House is just short of two-thirds Republican, I think enough black House members from St. Louis City and North St. Louis County, who live in what would be MO-1 (and what is MO-1 as I write this), would join the override in order to keep Lazy Clay happy. Unless there is some dissension within the Republican caucus, I think this map is as good as law.