Redistricting Battles Begin: Could Your Congress Member be in the Line of Fire?


"You're going to see this interesting pattern emerge in other large states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Texas where the interests of the incumbents are going to start clashing with the party because the party can't spread around enough Republicans to protect their incumbents," McDonald said.

"Republicans will be more protecting what they have as much as they possibly can, rather than trying to expand their majorities in Congress through redistricting in some of these states," he added.

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is another notable congressman who could soon face this challenge. A new district will have to be formed from parts of the area he represents, which could make the next election more competitive for the veteran congressman.

Democrats who are most vulnerable are those in whose states Republicans control the state legislature, such as in Texas, and those who represent districts in the center of their states where they've seen significant population changes.

"If you currently represent a voting rights district or you're in a district that's on the corner of the state, you're probably OK," McDonald said. "If you're in the middle of the state, and you don't represent a minority district, you're very vulnerable because even if your states win or lose congressional districts, there could be internal changes within the population of the state that are going to ripple across the state."

Observers are closely eyeing California, where a ballot initiative in 2008 created the 14-member California Citizens Redistricting Commission that would be responsible for drawing up state legislative district lines, instead of the legislature itself.

In Florida, voters passed a constitutional amendment that keeps the power to draw district lines in the hands of the legislature but sets a specific criteria that says boundaries that are drawn cannot favor any political candidate or party.

Arizona also has an independent five-member redistricting commission but that hasn't been without its controversy either.

Experts say partisan wrangling will likely be worse this year compared to the past, given the political climate and what's at stake for the parties for the next decade.

"What you're going to see is a game of musical chairs," said Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociology professor at Queens College in New York. "I think it will be a big fight and it will be both state and national."

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