Supreme Court will hear case on constitutionality of gerrymandering for political advantage

Is there anything in politics more boring than redistricting? Not much. Is there anything more important? Very little.

If congressional districts are allowed to be drawn based on how favourable they might be in delivering seats to one party or another, democracy is not served.

We now hear that The Supreme Court will “hear Wisconsin’s appeal of a lower court ruling that found its 2011 state redistricting plan was unconstitutional due to partisan gerrymandering,” a move that could have significant consequences on “how far state legislatures can go in drawing up district lines for partisan gain.”

The federal district court for the Western District of Wisconsin invalidated Wisconsin’s plan for the State Assembly. Similar cases are reportedly pending in North Carolina and Maryland.

The case goes as follows:

In 2012, after a new map was put into use, Republicans took 60 seats in the 99-seat state Assembly, with only 48.6 percent of the two-party vote.

Federal courts have previously ruled that maps that employ “racial gerrymandering” are unconstitutional. In racial gerrymandering, lines are drawn to lower the influence of minority voters, sometimes by scattering them across different districts.

The challenge to Wisconsin’s legislative lines are different because the challenge revolves around whether district lines can be drawn for a partisan advantage.

The claim against the Wisconsin redistricting plan is that it disadvantages Democrats in one of two ways. It either draws boundary lines so Democrats are spread out in districts where Republicans tend to have a majority, or Democrats are concentrated in a few districts where they win an overwhelming majority but take far fewer seats than their percentage of the vote state-wide would warrant.

Anyway, it would be good to get a Supreme Court ruling on the inherent unfairness of redistricting for political advantage. Seems like a no-brainer, but who knows?

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Is this what Republicans mean by calming the rhetoric? Disgusting

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Campaign News

New York TimesHigh-stakes referendum on Trump takes shape in a Georgia special election

Washington Post: Democratic win in Georgia would signal that the establishment is alive and kicking

Roll Call: Race Rating: New Jersey Governor Likely Democratic Takeover 

WTOPLessons from Virginia’s primary as gubernatorial race heats up

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A “door knocker” piece Republicans are using in the Georgia 6th to attack Democrat Jon Ossoff – the smell of desparation

This one has it all: “Liberal extremists” are pouring money into the district; he stands with Nancy Pelosi, and not Georgia; and doesn’t represent “our values” because he “doesn’t live in the district” and outside money is supporting him. Apparently he grew up in the district but is currently living a “mile and half down the road” to support his girlfriend who is currently finishing medical school. As for outside money, I doubt corporate donors live in all the districts and states they attempt to buy for the GOP. Good times.

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Georgia 6th special House campaign is in its final days. And it’s going to be close

The vote for the Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is on Tuesday and this one is certainly too close to call.  For Democrats, the crazy-making part is that so much effort has been put into stealing this generally safe Republican seat that a loss would be particularly hard to take.

As we get closer to election day, various pundits are talking about how a Democratic win would have a seismic impact, perhaps causing a mass exodus of House Republicans who might then choose not to run for re-election as they interpret the writing on the wall.

A poll last week had Democrat Jon Ossoff up by 7 points, but a brand new survey has Ossoff up by just a 49.7 to 48 margin over his GOP opponent Karen Handel.

The seat is in the northern suburbs outside of Atlanta. Trump won it by only a hair. Though the House seat has been held by Republicans for a long time, it’s a very well educated and relatively affluent area. If folks like this were seen to be turning on Trump, that could have repercussions for how candidates and pundits begin the frame the midterms.

The WSB-TV story accompanying the poll results notes the obvious that Trump casts a long shadow in this race with “91 percent of Ossoff voters having an unfavorable opinion of President Trump. On the flip side, 78 percent of Handel voters have a favorable opinion.”

So, yes, the election is a referendum on Trump. But whichever side loses, their respective party’s will surely say that local factors played an outside role, but don’t believe them. Trump has consumed all the oxygen that used be shared with regional concerns.

As a registered Democrat and avowed Trump hater, colour me nervous.

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Campaign News

WSB-TV: Ossoff leads Handel by less than 2 points Woodstock attorney, ordained deacon is eighth Democrat to run for Congress in NY-19

Miami Herald: Canova announces rematch against Wasserman Schultz

Daily KosNew lawsuit could invalidate Pennsylvania GOP’s congressional gerrymander

The Hill: RNC reports raising $10.8 million in May

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New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu for President! Why Not?

We want Mitch! We want Mitch! Okay, maybe not yet, but soon.

Amie Parnes at The Hill writes this week that “Democrats looking for new blood to revitalize their party are taking a close look at New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is suddenly being discussed as a dark-horse presidential nominee.”

You’ll recall Mayor Landrieu from his very important speech last month about the removal of Confederate monuments from his city. He did sound great. And let’s not forget that since few outside the city he represents have heard of him, he’s “new,” which seems to be one of the most important characteristics a politician can have these days. New is good.

When asked if he might run, the mayor says he is “focused solely on his current job and his upcoming role heading the Conference of Mayors. He is not thinking about a presidential bid.” At least he knows how to say he’s not running for something he might run for

In no particular order, those who think he might be a credible candidate have said the follow, or things like them:

  • The party needs the right candidate at the right time, and Hillary, the argument goes, was all wrong. Bernie was sort of right, but not entirely.
  • As the party looks to rebuild, “non-establishment” politicians like Landrieu might be just the ticket.
  • His speech on the Confederacy captured the attention of the liberal intelligensia, which I guess is good.
  • A pollster who has known him for years say if there is an opportunity “he’ll definitely see how deep the water is.” (Ya gotta love New Orleans).
  • Landrieu previously served as Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana from 2004 to 2010,“ which led one commentator to say that “having won statewide in a deep red state and citywide among a predominantly black, Democratic electorate, he has some track record in bridging these divides,” and also that “there may be more paths open for him nationally than there are statewide right now.
  • Landrieu has sought to address gun violence in his city, which would appeal to progressives.

Then again, naysayers wonder if he can go from being a mayor to being a president, and then they remember that Donald Trump when from being a moron real estate developer to being a moron president, so realize anything is now possible.

He also clearly has a low profile when so many others who might run for the Democratic nomination are already better known. Okay, but who outside of Vermont had heard of Bernie Sanders before he ran for president? In fact, I recall that the speech at his campaign launch was hilarious. Profiles can be created.

Names, names, and more names. We’ll hear a lots of them. Landrieu is hardly inconceivable as an option.

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Morning Headlines

Washington Post: Trump lashes out at Russia probe; Pence hires a lawyer

Politico: GOP sirens blaze over Georgia special election

CNN Politics: Washington Post: Mueller investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings

The Hill: Trump allies on the offensive against Mueller

New York Times: Trump transition team orders former aides to preserve Russia-related materials

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News from New Jersey – all bad for Republicans

A new poll by Quinnipiac finds that the race for New Jersey governor may be over before it’s really had a chance to start with Democrat Phil Murphy well ahead of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno by a margin of 55 to 26 percent.

The results carry over more generally where the poll finds New Jersey voters want the Democrats to control the State Legislature by a margin of 57 to 29 percent.

The same poll yields a few other interesting bits of information:

  • Republican Gov. Christie now has the “worst approval rating for any governor in any state surveyed by Quinnipiac University in more than 20 years” as state voters disapprove of him by a margin of 81 to 15 percent. They note that “even Republicans disapprove 58 – 31 percent.”
  • President Donald Trump is also scraping the bottom of the barrel achieving a record low in the Garden State with voters disapproving of the job he is doing by a 66 – 28 percent margin.
  • U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D) does far better with New Jersey voters approving 58 – 28 percent of this performance.
  • And a final finding is that “U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D) gets a 44 – 35 percent approval rating compared to his 41 – 41 percent score in a May 3 Quinnipiac University poll.” Curiously, “voters say 44 – 31 percent that Menendez does not deserve reelection next year.” In other words, “you’re doing okay, but it’s time to go.”
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Morning Headlines

Politico: Washington preaches unity — yet again

CNN Politics: Trump calls House health care bill ‘mean’

Washington Post: Lawmaker Steve Scalise is critically injured in GOP baseball shooting; gunman James T. Hodgkinson is killed by police

New York Times: Mueller seeks to talk to intelligence officials, hinting at inquiry of Trump

The Hill: Poll: Majority thinks Trump tried to meddle in Russia probe

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Fox News drops “fair and balanced”

On a day when most people are thinking and talking about the horrific shooting in Virginia, some lighter news might be welcome.

New York Magazine is reporting today that Fox News is dropping the trademark most thinking people saw as the silliest of sick jokes: the “Fair and Balanced” slogan.

A Fox News spokesperson confirmed to the magazine that the network is no longer using the slogan, but that the decision won’t impacting programming or editorial decisions.

The late Fox founder Roger Ailes was resposible for the catchphrase, in use since its founding in 1996. Good idea to put it to rest now.

The Hill’s report on the story connects the decision to the “institutional scrutiny” the network has been under due to “allegations of sexual harassment forced out Ailes and former host Bill O’Reilly.”

Or maybe their relentless boosterism for Trump has finally created a degree of shame. Probably not.

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Jeff Sessions gets the vapors before the Senate (video)

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Morning Headlines

The Hill: White House: Trump ‘has no intention’ to fire Mueller

CNN Politics: Hill Russia investigators plow forward, Mueller meetings on horizon

Politico: What we learned from the Virginia primary

Washington Post: Jeff Sessions finds a shield in executive privilege — but it might not be a strong one

New  York Times: Jeff Sessions denies collusion, deploring ‘detestable lie’ in Senate testimony

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Gillespie wins GOP nomination and Northam the Democratic for the Virginia gubernatorial

Ed Gillespie is expected to win the Republican nomination for Virginia governor but only by a hair over Prince William County Board of Supervisors chair Corey Stewart. And it wasn’t supposed to be that way.

Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, was supposed to have sailed to an easy win, but what election results make sense anymore? If current returns hold, Gillespie will be lucky to win by about a point.

Stewart is a pretty crazy pro-Trump nut job who Gillespie tried to ignore during the campaign, and came very close to paying for that strategy. Gillespie was a former George W. Bush aide so you can get a pretty good idea of where he stands on the current mess in D.C.

For the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam will win his party’s nomination over former congressman Tom Perriello by about 12 points. Perrillo was aligned with the Sanders wing of the party, and Northam with the Clinton wing, for whatever that’s worth.

The  general election to take place later this year will pit two establishment candidates against each other, now that the insurgents have been pushed aside.

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Oh great and glorious Oz

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Morning Headlines

Washington Post: With lawsuit, Democratic state attorneys general escalate campaign against Trump

Politico: Trump and the religious right: A match made in heaven

CNN Politics: It’s Jeff Sessions’ turn in the hot seat

New York Times: Friend says Trump is considering firing Mueller as special counsel

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Trump is certainly afraid of something

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Morning Headlines

CNN Politics9th Circuit deals Trump travel ban another defeat

Washington PostD.C. and Maryland AGs: Trump ‘flagrantly violating’ emoluments clause

The HillTrump says he’s accomplished more than anyone but FDR in six months

PoliticoSessions to testify in open hearing before Senate Intelligence Committee

New York TimesAcross Russia, protesters heed Navalny’s anti-Kremlin rallying cry

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The future of the Democratic Party (video)

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Morning Headlines

New York TimesDemocrats in split-screen: The base wants it all. The party wants to win.

Washington PostTrump sees Comey’s testimony as ‘complete vindication’ — and his fans agree

The Hill: Economy emerges as bright spot for Trump

CNN PoliticsSessions says he plans to testify before Senate intelligence panel

PoliticoGraham: Trump could ‘go down’ because of ‘inappropriate’ statements

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