SEN: U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) said he is “very close to making a positive decision” to challenge U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, tweeted the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek.
Proposed Legislation: Reps. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco) and Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) filed bills identical to House Bill 1061 by Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) that would limit primary participation only to those voters who are affiliated with that political party.
San Antonio: As expected, former Bexar Co. Democratic Party Chair Manuel Medina filed for mayor, becoming the eighth challenger to file against incumbent Ivy Taylor.
Partisan Gerrymandering: A federal court has ordered the Wisconsin legislature to draw new districts for the 2018 election after striking down the district boundaries as unconstitutional in November. Plaintiffs had hoped the judges would redraw maps, but the three-judge panel determined, “It is the prerogative of the State to determine the contours of a new map.” The state plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gerrymandering up to this point has largely been argued based on demographic characteristics of voters. This case, Whitford v. Nichols, was considered significant because of its use of a new measure of partisan gerrymandering called an “efficiency gap.” Plaintiffs argued that concentrating Democratic votes into districts resulted “in wasted votes” – excess Democratic votes in some districts and “perpetually insufficient” Democratic votes in others – that permits one party to win as many seats as possible within the total number of votes it receives. As a practical matter, it means districts are drawn such that one party wins more seats by a smaller margin and the other party wins fewer seats by much larger margins.
In November, the panel ruled that the First Amendment and Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits a redistricting plan that places “a severe impediment on the effectiveness of votes of individual citizens on the basis of their political affiliation … and cannot be justified on other, legitimate legislative grounds.”
The court have the Wisconsin legislature a November 1 deadline to redraw the maps, “contingent upon the Supreme Court’s affirmance” of its ruling in the case.