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Leading Off:
An interactive version of Florida's current congressional map
FL Redistricting: In a major decision that came out late Thursday evening, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis threw out Florida's congressional map, ruling that lawmakers violated the state's new "Fair Districts" amendments when they crafted new lines in 2012. (The full opinion is here.) Lewis said that legislators impermissibly sought to protect incumbents, in direction contravention of the amendments, which voters approved by a wide margin in 2010.

In fact, Lewis was absolutely scathing in his assessment of how Republicans handled their responsibilities:

What is clear to me from the evidence, as described in more detail below, is that this group of Republican political consultants or operatives did in fact conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting process. They accomplished this by writing scripts for and organizing groups of people to attend the public hearings to advocate for adoption of certain components or characteristics in the maps, and by submitting maps and partial maps through the public process, all with the intention of obtaining enacted maps for the State House and Senate and for Congress that would favor the Republican Party.

They made a mockery of the Legislature's proclaimed transparent and open process of redistricting by doing all of this in the shadow of that process, utilizing the access it gave them to the decision makers, but going to great lengths to conceal from the public their plan and their participation in it. They were successful in their efforts to influence the redistricting process and the congressional plan under review here. And they might have successfully concealed their scheme and their actions from the public had it not been for the Plaintiffs' determined efforts to uncover it in this case.

Lewis added that while the actual legislative staff members who were responsible for drawing the maps may have been unaware of this conspiracy, these consultants found "other ways to infiltrate and influence the Legislature." In so doing, they "managed to taint the redistricting process and the resulting map with improper partisan intent," thus requiring the map to be discarded.

Lewis specifically ruled that the 5th Congressional District (held by Democrat Corrine Brown) and the 10th (held by Republican Daniel Webster) have to be redrawn. That will create a ripple effect affecting adjacent districts, and Democrats are very likely to benefit, because Brown's district deliberately packs black voters into a hideous snake-like monstrosity stretching from Jacksonville to Orlando. (You can't miss it on the map embedded above.)

If the 5th is dismantled, it would unpack Democratic voters into more marginal Republican districts, potentially making them more competitive. Webster's 10th, meanwhile, wraps around the head of the 5th District serpent and would also likely become bluer with any redraw.

But we're probably still a while away from that yet, and we may not see any changes until 2016. Appeals are all but certain, and it's not even clear whether the legislature or the courts will craft a new map, if one is ultimately required. Given Lewis' dim view of how lawmakers performed their duties the first time around, he may well be inclined to take the cartographer's pen out of their hands, if it's up to him. Stay tuned, though, because there's undoubtedly plenty more to come.

2Q Fundraising:

AK-Sen: Mark Begich (D-inc): $1.25 million raised

GA-Sen: Jack Kingston (R): $1.6 million raised, $1.7 million spent, $1.2 million cash-on-hand; David Perdue (R): $974,000 raised (plus $500,000 loan), $1.2 million spent, $783,000 cash-on-hand

HI-Gov (first half of 2014): Neil Abercrombie (D-inc): $886,000 raised, $1 million cash-on-hand; David Ige (D): $243,000 raised, $82,000 cash-on-hand; Duke Aiona (R): $371,000 raised, $203,000 cash-on-hand; Mufi Hannemann (I): $179,000 raised, $85,000 cash-on-hand

SC-Gov: Vincent Sheheen (D): $505,000 raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand

Race Ratings:

We're changing our ratings on seven races this week: two gubernatorial contests and five House races. Four moves favor Democrats, two favor Republicans, and one is an intra-party race between two GOP candidates. You can find our full race ratings charts here: Senate | Gubernatorial | House.

HI-Gov (Likely D to Lean D): Despite his comfortable win four years ago, Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie has never been especially popular in office, thanks in part to feuds with the legislature and unions. He faces a tricky three-way race in November, with 2010 GOP nominee Duke Aiona trying once again on the Republican line and his 2010 Democratic primary opponent, Mufi Hannemann, running as an independent. And that's if he even makes it to November: Abercrombie's dealing with an irksome primary challenge from state Sen. David Ige, who even led in one recent poll despite being unknown and underfunded.

It feels like Abercrombie probably will survive his primary and probably will survive the general, but things are getting too weird here to feel very confident about his chances. And Hawaii, of course, is a notoriously tricky state to poll, so upsets at either end are possible.

PA-Gov (Lean D to Likely D): The reality is that GOP Gov. Tom Corbett hasn't polled above the 30s in over a year-and-a-half, and the last four polls have all shown Democrat Tom Wolf winning by more than 20. It's very hard to see how Corbett can win.

CA-21 (Likely R to Lean R): Even though Obama won 55 percent here, California's 21st is a vexing district for Democrats because it's likely to see a serious falloff in turnout in a non-presidential year, thanks to its poorer, heavily Hispanic population. But Democrats scored a very solid recruit in former congressional aide Amanda Renteria, whose fundraising has been strong. She's still the underdog to GOP Rep. David Valadao, but even though it's a midterm, she's certain to give him a much more serious contest than the joke candidate Democrats nominated last cycle.

CA-24 (Likely D to Safe D): Democratic Rep. Lois Capps lucked out when penniless tea partier Chris Mitchum edged out former congressional staffer Justin Fareed in the top-two primary (a result she may have had a hand in). National Republicans might have given Fareed the time of day; they won't even bother texting Mitchum.

CA-25: (Safe R/No Favorite): Sadly, Democrats got locked out of the November general election, meaning that a pair of Republicans will square off for this open seat: state Sen. Steve Knight and ex-state Sen. Tony Strickland. The two finished neck-and-neck in the primary despite Strickland's vastly superior fundraising, suggesting that Knight's more outspoken brand of conservatism has helped him level the playing field against the establishment-flavored Strickland. Knight's Senate district also overlaps more with the 25th than Strickland's did, so unless outside money come in big, this is looking like a balanced fight for now.

NE-02 (Likely R to Lean R): GOP Rep. Lee Terry's abysmal primary performance offered a clear sign that a lot of Republicans had tired of him—so much so that a former GOP state senator, Chip Maxwell, is moving forward with plans to run as an independent and offer voters a "true conservative" alternative. But even more dangerously, an unanswered Democratic poll recently found Terry tied at just 41 apiece with his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Brad Ashford, and Maxwell wasn't even included in the matchup.

Ashford's fundraising hasn't been impressive, and he wasn't Democrats' first choice, but the race isn't about him—it's about Terry, who barely survived his primary despite outspending his opponent 20-to-1. Last cycle, Democrats were able to make the general election competitive despite fielding another candidate who wasn't a stellar fundraiser, and the House Majority PAC has already made fall ad reservations in Omaha, which could be used for this race. Terry is still the favorite, but thanks to his own deep flaws, he's managed to make himself vulnerable.

NY-24 (Safe D to Likely D): Republicans failed to land any of their top recruits to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei, but they seem to be pleased nevertheless with attorney John Katko, who's fundraised well so far. The House Majority PAC also placed a fall TV ad reservation in the Syracuse media market earmarked for this district, suggesting that Democrats are not rock solid on this seat. An upset is still unlikely, given the blue nature of the 24th, but it can no longer be ruled out.


SC-Sen-A: Rasmussen: Lindsey Graham (R-inc): 49, Brad Hutto (D): 30.


MD-Gov: Rasmussen: Anthony Brown (D): 48, Larry Hogan (R): 35.


FL-26: Ah, bummer. Super corrupt ex-Rep. David Rivera just announced that he's suspending his comeback bid and instead intends to run for the state House in 2016. Amusingly, Rivera cited Thursday's judicial ruling that invalidated the state's congressional map as his reason for changing plans, claiming he would "not be held hostage by Florida's liberal activist judges"—even though the decision almost certainly won't affect South Florida's 26th District.

Regardless, this is good news for Republicans, who would have been utterly screwed had Rivera prevailed in next month's primary. Now the NRCC's preferred choice, Miami Dade School Board Member Carlos Curbelo, is likely to secure the nomination and take on Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia in what will be a very hotly contested race.

GA-11: A Magellan Strategies internal for state Sen. Barry Loudermilk gives him a wide 49-28 advantage over ex-Rep. Bob Barr in the July 22 GOP runoff. Loudermilk had a 37-26 edge on Barr in the primary, but unlike what we've seen in other races, outside interests haven't played much of a role in this contest.

IA-03: It was too good to be true: Republican state Sen. Brad Zaun, who was denied the GOP nomination for Iowa's 3rd Congressional District despite finishing first in the primary, says he won't run as an independent after all. Zaun had threatened to bork his party's chances at keeping this seat red by waging an indy campaign in the November general election, but doing so would have also torpedoed his own future in electoral politics, so it's no surprise he backed down.


IA-Sen: Americans for Prosperity spends a hefty $800,000 portraying Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley as a big-spending special interest lover. They throw in a clip of Braley's "farmer from Iowa gaffe," though it doesn't neatly fit the rest of the ad's message. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club goes after Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst over her stance on Pell Grants and the EPA.

NC-Sen: Americans for Prosperity attacks Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan on spending. The size of the buy is $300,000.

FL-Gov: The Republican Party of Florida contrasts Democrat Charlie Crist's and Republican Gov. Rick Scott's tenures as governor. Spoiler alert: They think Scott's the better governor. The state Democratic Party also has a Spanish-language ad on education.

IL-Gov: Republican businessman Bruce Rauner hits Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn on job losses, education cuts, and taxes.

PA-Gov: NextGen Climate portrays Republican Gov. Tom Corbett as a secretive ally of shady oil and gas groups, at the expense of Pennsylvanians.

IN-02: Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski goes very hard on bipartisanship, which is a little odd given how red her seat is. Romney won 56 percent here.

NJ-03: Republican Tom MacArthur has a "significant cable buy," portraying him as a caring, determined man.

(Jeff Singer)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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