- What Trump Is Running Against
- Boehner May Delay Leadership Election
- Mega Donors Warm to Carly Fiorina
- Paul Says He’s Not Quitting
- Trump Quote of the Day
As the Senate chamber erupted in applause after the swearing-in of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Majority Leader Harry Reid eventually looked up and directed his appreciation toward the newest senator’s attorneys.
On that day, more than five years ago, standing alongside his two Franken campaign co-counsels was Marc Elias, the Democrats’ go-to attorney. He’d spent the previous eight months in Minneapolis in a seemingly unending recount and trial that ultimately resulted in a 60th Senate seat for the party.
This cycle, as Franken is favored for re-election and Democrats fight to hold their majority, Elias sat down with CQ Roll Call to chat about Senate races, where exactly he’ll be watching election returns on Nov. 4, which states he’s keeping an eye on for potential recounts and his role in one of the longest recounts in Senate history.
(Join us on Election Night: Live Stream With Analysis, Results and More at RollCall.com)
“It was a very emotional thing,” Elias said of standing in the chamber on July 7, 2009. “Not just because of the fact that Franken was getting sworn-in, but I remember Leader Reid looking up at us, Sen. [John] Kerry and all these other members that I’d been involved with in representing, and it was really a great moment.”
When the myriad Republican presidential contenders start campaigning for 2016, their journeys might not look much different from this cycle.
From Iowa to New Hampshire, every Republican who is even remotely considering a 2016 bid hit the trail this year to help Senate contenders. What’s more, several competitive Senate races are this year conveniently in states that play host to early nominating contests in 2016.
Joni Ernst, the Republican running for the open seat in Iowa, has had almost every presidential hopeful campaign for her.
Thom Tillis, the Republican nominee in North Carolina, has had visits from even more of them. North Carolina’s legislature voted last year to move the primary to the Tuesday after South Carolina’s contest, placing it in the early group of presidential primary states.
Check out the chart for a full look at who appeared where:
The Florida Supreme Court voted Thursday to hear a case challenging Florida’s congressional map, setting oral arguments for March.
Updated 5:28 p.m.| A federal court has ruled Virginia’s congressional map violated the 14th Amendment and instructed the legislature to redraw the state’s congressional boundaries by April 1, 2015.
On Tuesday, three federal judges sided with the plaintiffs, who argued the Republican-led legislature drew Virginia’s 3rd District to pack blacks into the district, thus diminishing their influence in neighboring districts and violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The current map will still be in effect for the 2014 elections. The court instructed the legislature to redraw the entire congressional map by April, and there will likely be more legal action before then. Full story
A state judge upheld the Florida legislature’s newly revised congressional map Friday, ruling the redrawn House districts should apply to the 2016 elections.
“The 2014 elections will have to be held under the map as enacted in 2012,” Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis wrote in his ruling, siding with Florida lawmakers who argued that applying new district lines to this election cycle would create chaos.
The ruling allows the Aug. 26 primaries to continue as scheduled. Even so, the new map makes minor changes to the state’s House districts and will likely have a minimal effect in 2016 on the congressional delegation, where House Republicans currently outnumber Democrats 17 to 10.
The Florida Secretary of State submitted an alternative election schedule Friday to a state judge who is considering whether or not a redrawn congressional map should apply to the midterms.
According to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, should the new map apply to this cycle, the earliest possible primary date for the seven districts affected by the new map would take place on March 17, 2015. The general election would follow on May 26, 2015. Full story
The Florida Legislature approved a new congressional map Monday evening and sent it to the governor’s desk, although it’s still unclear whether the new House district boundaries will past muster or take effect for the 2014 elections.
The newly passed map only makes minor changes to the congressional districts and is not expected to alter Florida’s congressional delegation, where House Republicans currently outnumber Democrats, 17 to 10.
There are a number of ways the redistricting chaos could end, but the clock is ticking down to the Aug. 26 primary. Next week, a judge will rule whether the new lines are acceptable, and when voters will head to the polls.
Lawmakers returned to Tallahassee last week under a judge’s order to redraw the Sunshine state’s congressional districts. In July, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled two districts violated the state constitution, which prohibits drawing districts to favor a political party or incumbent.
It’s back to the drawing board for Florida lawmakers, who must return to Tallahassee this week for a rushed redraw of the state’s congressional map.
On Friday, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis issued an order setting an Aug. 15 deadline for the legislature to redraw the map and for state officials to develop a revised election schedule. A trial on the proposed map and schedule will take place on Aug. 20, with a ruling expected the following day.
The special legislative session, scheduled to start Thursday, comes nearly a month after a state judge ruled two congressional districts violated the state constitution, which prohibits drawing districts to favor a political party or incumbent.
The Florida primary is scheduled for Aug. 26, so it’s still unclear whether the new congressional map would take effect for the 2014 election cycle. Full story
A congressional redistricting trial in Florida was scheduled to conclude Wednesday afternoon, the results of which could force the legislature to redraw the district boundaries before November, throwing current congressional campaigns into chaos.
“I don’t think there’s any congressional campaign here that’s discounting that possibility,” said one Florida Democratic insider, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the ongoing case.
The issue in the trial, known locally as Florida’s “Game of Thrones,” is whether the GOP-led Legislature violated the state’s new Fair Districts Amendment during redistricting following the 2010 U.S. Census. A verdict is expected by the end of the month.
Former Rep. Connie Mack endorsed businessman Curt Clawson, a fellow Republican, in the upcoming special election for the seat Mack held until 2012.
In backing Clawson in Florida’s 19th District, Mack cited the candidate’s endorsement of the former congressman’s “Penny Plan,” a proposal to reduce the federal budget by 1 percent every year.
“Simply put, I am concerned that most politicians don’t have the strength of their resolve in order to make these tough choices,” Mack said in a statement. “It will take an outsider to help us accomplish this goal and ultimately pass the Penny Plan. For these reasons, I endorse Curt Clawson for Congress and look forward to working with him to make the Penny Plan a reality.” Full story
It’s never too early to start planning for redistricting, right?
On Monday, Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham announced he has formed a new committee of GOP election experts to monitor the state’s independent redistricting process — in 2020.
Local Republicans remain angry after the party got shellacked in the most recent congressional redraw ahead of the 2012 cycle. The next time the decennial redistricting process come around — eight years from now, after the 2020 cycle — the GOP does not want to be caught flat-footed again. Full story
Former Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., is not running for public office anytime soon — especially next year.
“On the political side, there’s nothing on the radar for me right now,” Quayle told CQ Roll Call in a Wednesday phone interview. “2014 is definitely not happening, but who knows what’ll happen sometime down the road.” Full story
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed the Lone Star State’s new congressional map into law, ending the state’s long and twisted redistricting saga of the 2012 cycle.
A Perry aide confirmed to CQ Roll Call that the GOP governor inked the House district boundaries, passed by the legislature in a special session, on Wednesday afternoon.
The governor’s approval comes one day after the Supreme Court gutted a provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that forced Texas to seek federal approval for any changes to its voting laws — including its congressional maps. The state was one of several covered by Section 5 because, according to the original law, it had a history of discrimination in its voting practices. Full story
The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act will change the country’s politics. And in some cases, the change could come as soon as 2014.
On the surface, the ruling now allows certain states to make changes to their voting laws without federal approval. But the political implications will reach beyond those states, especially as Democrats try to use the decision to energize minority voters for the midterm elections.
On Tuesday, the high court ruled unconstitutional a key part, Section 4, of the Voting Rights Act. That provision detailed the formula used to decide which states must have pre-clearance from the federal government before making changes to voting laws because, according to the now-voided provision, those jurisdictions had a history of discrimination.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. described the Section 4 coverage formula as outdated in his majority opinion, calling on Congress to develop a new way to pick which states must get federal approval. But it’s unlikely the House and Senate will pass something soon, given the contentious nature of voting rights and the gridlock on Capitol Hill.
As a result, it’s likely no state will have to seek federal approval to change its voting laws in the immediate future.
To be sure, the high court’s ruling will have a greater effect in the long term. For example, in 2020, states previously covered by the law’s Section 5 won’t have to get federal approval for their redrawn congressional maps, giving local officials new leeway to draw district boundaries. Those new maps will take effect in 2022.
But voters could see the effects of this week’s ruling much sooner as well. Here are four ways the ruling could play into the 2014 midterms: Full story
The Supreme Court is expected to rule next week on Section 5 of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires certain states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval for any changes to voting laws.
The ruling could have wide impact on how states such as Texas apportion their congressional districts, among other state laws governing the most basic franchise of citizenship.
According to election law experts from both parties, here are the three most likely ways the court decision could come down: