Thanks to cynical district gerrymandering Republicans have managed to hold far more state level and congressional districts than they by rights should hold. In Virginia the problem is especially egregious and one congressional district has been ruled illegal and a court challenge to state level districts is underway. Should the districts be struck down and rational, geographically compact districts be put in place, the power of the GOP would be severely lessened. A piece in the New York Times looks at the Democrat effort to end shameless gerrymandering. Here are highlights:
The Democratic Governors Association is creating a fund dedicated to winning races in states where governors have some control over congressional redistricting, the party’s first step in a long-range campaign to make control of the House more competitive.Billed as “Unrig the Map,” the effort will target 18 of the 35 states in which governors play a role in redistricting, and where new congressional maps could allow Democrats to win House seats that are now drawn in a way to favor Republicans. The fund will be used for governors’ races over the next five years, leading up to the 2020 census.Democratic officials said that they hoped to raise “tens of millions” for the effort and that they believed they could gain as many as 44 House seats if lines were more favorably redrawn in the 18 battleground states. Many of those states still have Republican-controlled legislatures, but with Democratic governors in place they could at least veto the next round of congressional maps and send the disputes to the courts.The fund-raising effort is to be overseen by Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia and Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily’s List, a group that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.The push is rooted in the 2010 elections, which were devastating to Democrats not only because they suffered deep losses but also because Republican victories in governors’ races and gains the party made in controlling state legislatures that year enabled Republicans to dominate redistricting in many states, achieving what could be a decade-long hold on the House.Democrats won over a million more votes in House races than Republicans but still could not reclaim a majority, in part because of Republican-led redistricting.Both parties operate networks of political committees intended to channel national money into governor and state legislative races. But the Republican version is far better financed: The Republican Governors Association, for example, spent $170 million during the 2014 cycle, compared with $98 million for the Democratic Governors Association.Democratic governors and strategists have often complained that their donors are too focused on more glamorous presidential and Senate races, while Republicans have been pouring money into state-level contests.But Mr. McAuliffe acknowledged that the Democrats had not pushed their donors enough, either. “This effort is the first time the party has really taken a serious effort at winning these races,” he said.