Morning Digest: Pennsylvania Supreme Court sweep gives Democrats legislative redistricting control

Wikimedia Commons photo of the Pennsylvania state capitol building taken by Ad Meskens

Pennsylvania state capitol building


Leading Off:

PA Supreme Court: In what was by far the most important victory of the night, Democrats swept three seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, giving them a five to two majority; previously, Republicans had controlled the bench three to two, with two vacancies. This victory isn’t simply about ensuring a more just court, though undoubtedly the cause of fairness will benefit greatly. It will also have an enormous impact on the next round of legislative redistricting.

That’s because the Supreme Court selects the tie-breaking vote for the commission that draws up the maps for Pennsylvania’s state House and Senate. In the prior two rounds of redistricting, the Republican-dominated court chose the tiebreaker, but now Democrats will have that power come 2021 (justices are elected to 10-year terms). As a result, Democrats will have the chance to undo the Republican gerrymanders that

Continue reading “Morning Digest: Pennsylvania Supreme Court sweep gives Democrats legislative redistricting control”

Morning Digest: Pennsylvania Supreme Court sweep gives Democrats legislative redistricting control

Wikimedia Commons photo of the Pennsylvania state capitol building taken by Ad Meskens

Pennsylvania state capitol building


Leading Off:

PA Supreme Court: In what was by far the most important victory of the night, Democrats swept three seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, giving them a five to two majority; previously, Republicans had controlled the bench three to two, with two vacancies. This victory isn’t simply about ensuring a more just court, though undoubtedly the cause of fairness will benefit greatly. It will also have an enormous impact on the next round of legislative redistricting.

That’s because the Supreme Court selects the tie-breaking vote for the commission that draws up the maps for Pennsylvania’s state House and Senate. In the prior two rounds of redistricting, the Republican-dominated court chose the tiebreaker, but now Democrats will have that power come 2021 (justices are elected to 10-year terms). As a result, Democrats will have the chance to undo the Republican gerrymanders that

Continue reading “Morning Digest: Pennsylvania Supreme Court sweep gives Democrats legislative redistricting control”

Morning Digest: Can Democrats really beat David Vitter? We’re skeptical

GOP Sen. David Vitter

Louisiana GOP Sen. David Vitter

Leading Off:
LA-Gov: While state Rep. John Bel Edwards looks like a longshot to win this fall’s gubernatorial contest in dark red Louisiana, a new poll is arguing that he has what it takes to turn the governor’s mansion blue. On behalf of Gumbo PAC, PPP takes a look at a hypothetical Nov. 21 runoff between Edwards and GOP Sen. David Vitter and gives Edwards a shockingly strong 50-38 lead. Vitter posts a horrible 34-51 favorable rating while Edwards is on positive ground at 35-27.

PPP also finds Edwards competitive against two other Republicans, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle: Edwards is tied 40-40 with Angelle and trails Dardenne just 42-40. But according to this survey, a Vitter-Edwards runoff is the most likely outcome. In the Oct. 24 jungle primary, PPP sees Edwards and Vitter taking the first

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Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Supreme Court tosses Republican maps in North Carolina

Leading Off:
NC Redistricting: On Monday, the Supreme Court vacated a ruling from North Carolina’s highest court that had upheld Republican-drawn maps of the state’s congressional and legislative districts. While we don’t yet know what the final outcome will be, the court’s decision could have a real impact on one of the most aggressively partisan gerrymanders in the nation.

Democrats had argued that the new lines were unconstitutional because they’d improperly taken voters’ race into account; while this line of attack did not receive a receptive audience in state court, the SCOTUS decreed that in light of a recent decision of theirs in similar case out of Alabama, the North Carolina Supreme Court had to reconsider its decision.

So what did that Alabama decision say? In that case, plaintiffs claimed that Republicans—who had their hands on the cartographer’s pencil there as well—had packed black voters into too few districts, “bleaching” surrounding districts and thus diminishing Democratic voting strength in those areas (because African-Americans almost always vote heavily for Democrats). There as here, a lower court sided with the defendants, but the Supreme Court disagreed and sent that case back down for a re-hearing last month. We’re still awaiting the results, and may yet for a while.

Opponents of North Carolina’s maps raised very similar arguments—take a look at the skinny, snake-like 12th District, which crams in a black majority running along a hundred-mile stretch of I-85 from Greensboro to Charlotte. They now find themselves in the same place as their peers in Alabama: waiting to see how a lower court decides the second time around. However, as legal scholar Rick Hasen explained when the Alabama decision was handed down, the Supreme Court’s ruling may only offer plaintiffs a “small” and “temporary” victory.

Head over the fold to find out why.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Bobby Jindal’s greatest rival is also his likely successor

Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference.

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal

Leading Off:
LA-Gov: Even as Gov. Bobby Jindal covets the Republican presidential nomination, plenty of his fellow conservatives at home are sick of him. We don’t link to The American Conservative very often, but author Rod Dreher gives us a good read on why so many Pelican State Republicans can’t wait for him to be termed-out of office early next year. Jindal’s tax cuts may give him a good talking point in Iowa but they’ve led to brutal cuts that even hardline conservatives are angry with, and forced him to rely on one-time revenue sources over and over again.

Democratic state House Minority Leader John Bel Edwards is hoping that voter’s disgust with Jindal’s policies will give him an opening in this year’s gubernatorial contest, but one Republican may have snatched the anti-Jindal banner first. Sen. David Vitter has been blasting the governor’s fiscal stewardship, taking aim at his tax credits and short-term budget fixes in particular. Fellow Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has not been afraid to criticize Jindal’s record either, but he hasn’t trained as much righteous fury at the governor’s mansion.

In another contest it might be strange to see this kind of Republican in-fighting, but Vitter and Jindal have had a terrible relationship for almost a decade. In 2007, the senator’s prostitution scandal came to light for the first time, putting his political career in jeopardy. Then-Rep. Jindal didn’t want Vitter’s cooties all over his gubernatorial campaign and so he did little to defend the embattled senator, something Vitter never forgave or forgot. Jindal even refused to endorse Vitter’s 2010 re-election campaign, even after the senator won re-nomination. But Vitter survived his scandal and easily defeated Democrat Charlie Melancon, and he soon got the chance to exact revenge.

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Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: The Toomey-Sestak rematch starts off tight

Pat Toomey arguing for background checks April 17, 2013

Pennsylvania’s Republican Sen. Pat Toomey starts the 2016 cycle as a top Democratic target

Leading Off:
PA-Sen: Here’s how you know the 2015-16 election cycle has officially begun: The good folks at Public Policy Polling have released their first public poll of the year. PPP starts with Pennsylvania, one of the Democrats’ top pickup targets as they aim to claw their way back to the majority. (Down 54-46, Democrats need to gain four seats to win back the chamber if they can also hold the presidency, five if they cannot.)

In 2010, ultra-conservative ex-Rep. Pat Toomey narrowly defeated Rep. Joe Sestak, 51-49, after Sestak had in turn dethroned Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary by a 54-46 spread. (Specter, of course, had served decades as a Republican before switching parties in 2009 so that he could ensure he’d get “re-e-lec-ted.” Didn’t quite work out for him.)

Though Sestak pissed off the Democratic establishment for daring to challenge Specter (even Barack Obama endorsed the incumbent), he proved he had serious chops as a campaigner by taking on the party and prevailing. And Toomey’s slim margin of victory, despite the GOP’s intense tailwinds that fall, showed that in any other year, Sestak would have likely prevailed.

Will 2016 be that year? Perhaps. PPP finds Toomey with a schvach 28-35 job approval rating and just a 40-36 edge on Sestak, who’s still largely unknown despite his prior run and has a 19-21 favorability score. Toomey doesn’t do much better against other options:

41-44 vs.

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