Lawmakers will be able to raise unlimited piles of cash from anonymous donors to help redraw congressional district maps and then defend those maps in court, thanks to a decision by the Federal Election Commission. Democrats aim to raise $12 million in soft money, while Republicans are gunning for $20 million--each with the goal of redrawing district lines in a way most advantageous to their electoral chances. But there's a fight within the parties too, The New York Times' Eric Lichtblau and Raymond Hernandez report. Individual legislators are hiring their own lobbyists to help protect their seats.
This is the first battle that will be affected by the FEC's decision last year that parties could raise soft money for these battles. The FEC decided that money raised for redistricting did not directly affect elections, so it was outside the scope of campaign finance law.
Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, the top Republican in charge of the party's national redistricting strategy, is practically salivating for the fight. "What we want," he told the Times, "is to make sure this issue is on everyone's radar and put ourselves in position to defend a lot more maps." But Republicans are going to play it safe this time, focusing on protecting their historic gains in last fall's midterm elections instead of trying to unseat incumbent Democrats. "Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered," Wesmoreland told Politico's Richard E. Cohen.
Redistricting, though, is complicated by the Voting Rights Act, which as Aaron Blake explains at The Washington Post's The Fix, "requires that there must be a 'majority-minority' district--one that includes a majority of non-whites--in any area where a 'reasonably compact' district can be drawn." Lawmakers in states looking to redistrict will have to get approval from the Justice Department for new maps. Texas gets four new congressional seats--but its big population gains have come mostly from Latinos.
explains that at least two of Texas' new districts will be majority-minority, and "All of it adds up to one of the most uncertain redistricting rounds in the country, and also one of the most vital. Legal action is a foregone conclusion." Which means all that money is going to come in handy.