Iowa House Maps Create Competitive Seating

Iowa lawmakers late Thursday gave final approval to new congressional district boundaries that will likely prepare the state for a decade of competitive racing ahead.

Only one of Iowa’s four congressional districts would likely be beyond competition, according to state political watchers and data released by the legislature’s nonpartisan redistricting panel. The other three districts voted for ex President TrumpDonald Trump Former lawmakers sign brief to counter Trump’s claims of executive privilege in January 6 probe Fox poll shows Youngkin leads McAuliffe by 8 points among potential voters Iowa legislature passes redistribution proposal of districts MORE in 2020, but by the narrowest of margins.

The state House gave final approval to the maps Thursday and sent them to Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) for approval. Reynolds is likely to sign them into law.

The new map underpins Rep. Randy Feenstra’s (R) district, based north of Des Moines and west along Iowa’s borders with South Dakota and Nebraska. The Feenstra district will win new counties along the Missouri River previously represented by Rep. Cindy axneCindy Axne Iowa Legislature Passes Redistricting Proposal Democrats Call For IRS Banking Reporting Proposal To Be Removed From Spending Bill Vulnerable House Democrats Warn Against Removing Drug Prices From Package PLUS (D).

Under the new version, the Axne District, based in Des Moines, the largest city in the state, will encompass several new rural counties along the southern border with Missouri, along with Greene County to the north and west. of Des Moines. His district gave Trump a plurality of 49.1 percent in 2020, though it contains slightly more registered Democratic voters than Republicans.

First-term Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R), who won her seat by just six votes in 2020, would likely run in the first district, which is won by Warren County, south of Des Moines, and several counties along the way. along the Mississippi River on Iowa’s eastern border with Illinois. Those counties are among dozens in the Upper Mississippi River Valley that voted Democrats for a century before realigning to back Trump in 2016 and 2020.

“I will evaluate the new districts to determine my next step, which I will announce shortly,” Miller-Meeks said in a statement Friday morning.

Cartographers, who cannot by state law consider where incumbents live when drawing district lines, place Miller-Meeks and Axne in the same district. But Miller-Meeks lives near East District 1, which makes up most of her current district.

Regardless of which seat you choose, Miller-Meeks is unlikely to get a break from competitive elections in the next few cycles – the closest analog to his current district gave Trump just 50.4 percent of the vote in 2020, a sign. of sharply divided contests ahead. if the Democrats can recruit the right candidate.

The new proposal will give another first-term Republican, Rep. Ashley Hinson, a little more room to breathe: Hinson’s district will hand over Marshall County, which voted for Trump by slim margins in 2016 and 2020, and two counties. Eastern, ancestrally Democratic, in exchange for more rural and more Republican counties near the northern border with Minnesota.

The shifting of counties between districts “reflects population shifts toward the Des Moines market and the larger cities of [eastern] Iowa, ”said David Kochel, a longtime Iowa Republican strategist. He predicted that at least two of the seats, and possibly three, including Hinson’s, would be competitive in the next decade.

Despite creating four districts that Trump won in 2020, Democratic strategists were largely happy with the end result, which, they said, could have been worse for their party. Iowa’s redistricting panel, made up of legislative staff, draws maps, but the legislature could decide to scrap the panel’s work and start over. The legislature decided not to break precedents this time.

“What matters is that they avoid taking Iowa into a very dangerous position where legislators redraw maps,” said Matt Paul, a longtime Democratic strategist who helped guide Hillary clintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton Educational mistake that ignited suburban parents that sparked a panic in McAuliffe in Virginia Trump to attend Game 4 of the World Series in Atlanta Pavlich: The use of Justice Department weapons by Democrats has returned MORE2016 presidential campaign. “The Iowa process is impartial and fair, and while these maps may not be the best for Democrats, they retain one of the last truly nonpartisan aspects of redistricting.”

Democrats expressed optimism in Axne’s chances of keeping his seat, and in State Sen. Liz Mathis (D), who is challenging Hinson this year. State Rep. Christina Bohannan (D) has already said she will compete against Miller-Meeks.

“Strong candidates should be able to compete in three of the four [districts], and that’s a win, ”Paul said.

The maps conform to Iowa state law that requires counties to remain complete, a quirk that can often complicate the reassignment process, said Dennis Goldford, a political scientist at Drake University in Des Moines. Even keeping counties complete, new districts deviate from target populations by less than one-hundredth of a percentage point.

The new maps are also likely to create some hard feelings among sitting members of the Iowa state legislature, many of whom have been drawn into districts along with their fellow incumbents. Twenty of the 50 Iowa state senators and 38 of the 100 members of the state House are attracted along with their colleagues.

Kochel, the Republican strategist, said that’s not unusual in a scenario where cartographers can’t legally account for a headline’s home.

But it is unlikely to affect the balance of power in a state where Republicans have controlled the legislature in recent years. The Republican Party currently has 32 of 50 seats in the Senate and 59 of 100 seats in the state House.

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