The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.
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● NC Redistricting, NC-06, NC-14: On Wednesday, North Carolina Republicans passed new congressional and state legislative gerrymanders that will likely cost three to four House Democrats their seats in Congress and guarantee GOP control of the legislature in this longtime swing state. Thanks to an unusual provision of the state's constitution, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper lacks the power to veto this map, so these new districts will now become law.
The GOP's new congressional map will rank as one of the most extreme gerrymanders in the country and upend the state's House delegation. North Carolina relied on a court-drawn map in 2022 that elected seven Democrats and seven Republicans, with Republican House candidates collectively winning the popular vote by a close 52-48 margin.
As shown on this graphic comparing the old and new maps, that fairer map will be replaced with one that will almost certainly elect 10 or 11 Republicans next year and just three or four Democrats. The plan could also end the House career of one of the state's three Black representatives.
Meanwhile, the GOP's new state Senate and state House maps turbocharge their existing gerrymanders and will make it effectively impossible for Democrats to secure majorities, even though they're routinely capable of winning statewide elections. Even worse, the new maps will likely ensure that, in all but the most Democratic of election years, Republicans will maintain the three-fifths supermajorities they'd need to override gubernatorial vetoes and to place constitutional amendments on the ballot.
As shown on the graphic at the top of this story (click here for a larger version), the congressional gerrymander works by cracking apart two heavily Democratic urban areas: the city of Fayetteville and the region known as the Piedmont Triad, which includes Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point. These four cities are collectively split among six different districts, combining their large Black populations with heavily white rural areas to ensure that all will be represented solely by Republicans.
Republicans are using the reverse approach to suppress the strength of voters in Charlotte and Raleigh, the state's two biggest cities, as well as the Research Triangle region in the Raleigh area. There, they've packed Democrats into just three dark-blue districts, while adjacent districts dilute blue-trending suburbs with deep red rural turf.
Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning, who comfortably won reelection 54-45 last year, is one of the GOP's targets. Her Triad-based 6th District previously contained all of Greensboro, which is the state's third-largest city; almost all of neighboring High Point; and part of nearby Winston-Salem. The reconfigured 6th retains only High Point and a small portion of Greensboro, instead picking up heavily Republican rural areas to the southwest.
Those changes turn the district from one that would have voted 56-43 for Joe Biden in 2020 into one that would have gone 57-41 for Donald Trump, according to Dave's Redistricting App—a 29-percentage-point swing in partisanship.
Earlier this month, before the GOP unveiled its map, Manning had said she would seek reelection to a third term, though the new district's lean would make her task Herculean if not impossible. That same week, High Point Mayor Jay Wagner announced he would seek the Republican nomination for "[w]hichever district the city of High Point is in," and other Republicans will likely run here, too.
Additionally on Wednesday, former GOP Rep. Mark Walker told the conservative Carolina Journal that he was dropping his long-shot gubernatorial campaign and will run for the 6th. Walker had held a previous version of this district last decade, but he declined to seek reelection in 2020 when litigation led to that GOP gerrymander getting replaced with a somewhat fairer map that year, and Manning won to succeed him.
In the Triangle, meanwhile, Republicans have completely transformed freshman Democratic Rep. Wiley Nickel's 13th District by removing its portions of Raleigh and the nearby suburb of Cary, both of which are solidly blue. They've instead added rural and exurban areas to the north and northwest of Raleigh so that the district now fully wraps around the Research Triangle in a backward "C" shape.
These changes turn what had been a 50-48 Biden district, which Nickel narrowly won 52-48 last year, into a 58-41 Trump seat, a shift of 17 points. In response to the map's passage, Nickel released a statement saying he would not yet announce his 2024 election plans but would instead "sue the bastards" in court.
Down in Charlotte, Republicans have dismantled freshman Rep. Jeff Jackson's 14th District, which was a 57-41 Biden district that covered the southern half of the city and its western exurbs. They've accomplished this by giving almost all of Charlotte to the dark blue 12th District, represented by Democratic Rep. Alma Adams.
Instead, the 14th now sprawls westward nearly to the Appalachian Mountains and becomes a 57-41 Trump district. That 32-point swing to the right is the largest in any of the state's congressional districts. Conversely, Adams' 12th District will become an extreme Democratic vote sink, shifting 20 points to the left, from 64-34 for Biden to 74-24.
When the GOP's first draft was unveiled, Jackson strongly implied that he wouldn't seek reelection in such an unwinnable district, though he could run for state attorney general. On the Republican side, state House Speaker Tim Moore is retiring from the legislature next year and said Tuesday he is considering running for the new 14th. Political insiders had long predicted that Moore could draw a new seat for himself, and very conveniently, the 14th now includes his entire legislative district and has no GOP incumbent.
The fourth and final Democrat who could lose their seat thanks to the new map is freshman Rep. Don Davis, whose 1st District previously included rural parts of inland northeastern North Carolina and has been represented by a Black Democrat since its creation as a district protected by the Voting Rights Act in the 1990s. The 1st loses the city of Greenville, which has a large Black population and leans strongly Democratic, to GOP Rep. Greg Murphy's 3rd District, which in return gives the 1st parts of the Outer Banks along the coast that are heavily white and Republican.
These changes shift the 1st from a 53-46 Biden district that Davis won 52-48 as an open seat last year into a district that Biden carried just 50-49. The new 1st has been trending Republican over the past decade, as evidenced by Republican Ted Budd's 52-46 win under the revised lines in last year's Senate contest. While it's not a guaranteed GOP pickup if Davis seeks reelection, he likely would have lost last year had these lines been in effect. (Budd lost the old 1st by 49.3-48.8.) Davis has not yet revealed what his plans are.
Several Republican members will also see their seats drastically reconfigured, but the map spreads around GOP voters with laser precision to ensure each district remains safely red without wasting those voters in overly Republican districts. Murphy's 3rd, for instance, now extends much further inland from the coast and becomes bluer thanks to Greenville, but it's still solidly red, with a 58-41 Trump margin.
The bulk of Greensboro, meanwhile, now gets drawn into Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx's 5th District, which runs westward along the Virginia border all the way to the Appalachians and is safely red, with a 57-42 Trump margin. At the same time, almost all of Winston-Salem gets added to Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry's 10th District, where most of the population remains in rural areas to the southwest and the Charlotte exurbs. That drops it from a 69-30 Trump margin to 57-41 Trump —much more efficient, from the perspective of Republican gerrymandering.
As for the leftover fringes of Greensboro and its conservative exurbs, they're added to GOP Rep. Richard Hudson's 9th District, which now extends southeast through heavily Republican rural areas to include part of Fayetteville in the Sandhills region. This would shore up Hudson: His previous district backed Trump by a somewhat modest 53-45 spread, but the new map makes it more secure at 56-42 Trump.
In the 8th District, GOP Rep. Dan Bishop is retiring to run for attorney general, leaving open a 58-40 Trump seat that spans from Charlotte's suburbs eastward to the Sandhills. The revised district appears to reward turncoat Democratic state Rep. Tricia Cotham, whose party switch to the GOP earlier this year handed Republicans a veto-proof majority, which they've used to restrict abortion and pass other far-right policies. Cotham has not yet indicated what she'll do next—her legislative district was also made much redder—but the 8th picks up her base in Charlotte's inner suburbs from the 12th.
The state's other four House members would see their districts retain a similar political composition. The two remaining Democratic districts would both become bluer: Rep. Deborah Ross' 2nd District in Raleigh would shift from 64-35 Biden to 67-31 Biden, while Rep. Valerie Foushee's neighboring 4th District, which includes the Durham and Chapel Hill areas in the Research Triangle, moves from 67-32 Biden to 72-26 Biden.
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. David Rouzer's 7th District in southeastern North Carolina sees few changes and stays solidly red at 55-44 Trump. Finally, in the Appalachian Mountains, in the state's far western corner, Republican Rep. Chuck Edwards' 11th District is largely untouched and would have voted 55-44 for Trump in 2020.
As a result, the new map will yield a delegation that, at best, splits 10-4 in Republicans' favor, or very possibly 11-3—if not next year, then later this decade. Democrats' only real chance of reversing these gerrymanders involves either passing legislation at the federal level, which likely can't happen before 2025, or taking back the state Supreme Court, which involves a multiyear plan that would require winning four of the next five court races between 2024 and 2028.
● NC-Gov: State Treasurer Dale Folwell responded to the passage of the new congressional gerrymander (see our NC Redistricting item above) by making it clear that he would still continue his uphill GOP primary battle against Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson rather than seek another office.
● AL-02: Shomari Figures announced this week that he was stepping down from his post at the U.S. Department of Justice as he considers entering the Democratic primary for the redrawn 2nd District. His mother, state Sen. Vivian Figures, had expressed interest in running herself last month, but she sounds like she's ready to defer to her son. "There are a lot of people―including myself―who are excited by the possibility of him seeking public office," she told Al.com. "I think he would be an outstanding candidate and representative."
Alabama State University President Quinton Ross, meanwhile, told the Montgomery Independent's Jeff Martin he'd stay out of the Democratic contest. Martin also mentions Secretary of State Wes Allen as a possible GOP contender, though there's no indication that he's interested.
● AZ-08: Retiring Rep. Debbie Lesko told Punchbowl News Tuesday that she was endorsing state House Speaker Ben Toma in the GOP primary even though she acknowledged that Toma had not yet announced a bid to succeed her.
The GOP field for this 56-42 Trump seat already included 2022 attorney general nominee Abe Hamadeh, who has the support of former ticket mate and fellow Big Lie enthusiast Kari Lake: Lake, who is now running for the Senate, last week tweeted just before Hamadeh launched his campaign, "I sure hope my friend @AbrahamHamadeh considers running! #AZ08 deserves a fighter & Abe is one of the toughest in Arizona."
Hamadeh, though, lives in GOP Rep. David Schweikert's neighboring 1st District. Toma, by contrast, is a resident of the 8th, and he currently represents about 30% of the seat in the legislature.
The field may also soon contain Brandon Urness, who managed then-Attorney General Mark Brnovich's 2022 Senate bid ahead of his weak third-place primary finish. Urness declared Tuesday he was forming an exploratory campaign, though his declaration attracted little attention beyond a brief mention in the Arizona Republic. Urness, without mentioning any of his opponents directly, tweeted, "The West Valley will not be fed lies by carpetbaggers with a silver spoon."
● MD-06: Former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney declared Wednesday that she was joining the busy primary to replace her fellow Democrat, Senate hopeful David Trone, in this 54-44 Biden seat. McClain Delaney is the wife of former Rep. John Delaney, who represented the previous version of the 6th District for three terms before leaving office in 2019 for an ill-fated bid for president best remembered by a meme-worthy photo showing the grim-faced candidate descending a slide at the Iowa State Fair.
Delaney represented about 80% of the new 6th, but MoCo360 notes that the couple's residency is not part of the district McClain Delaney wants to represent. Indeed, the story notes that Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin's 8th District already included their Potomac home under the old map, but the revamped lines mean that McClain Delaney now lives 10 miles away from her would-be constituents instead of just a few blocks. The candidate, however, argued, "I know this district, I love this district, and I know the folks from Cumberland to Frederick to Gaithersburg want things done that will make their lives better and that will protect and strengthen our democracy."
Delaney self-funded a total of $3.7 million during his trio of House campaigns, and MoCo360 writes that McClain Delaney is "widely expected" to use "some of the assets held by her and her husband." That sort of personal investment could help her stand out in a crowded primary field where none of the candidates have amassed large war chests. The contender with the most money at the end of September was Del. Joe Vogel, who had $160,000 banked.
Just behind with $150,000 is psychiatrist Geoffrey Grammer, whom we hadn't previously mentioned. Grammer, an Army veteran who has self-funded most of his effort, does not appear to have run for office before.
The Democratic field could still expand, though MoCo360 reports that state Sen. Brian Feldman and former Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner have both privately decided not to run even though neither has ruled anything out publicly.
● NY-03: Former Rep. Tom Suozzi has earned the backing of the well-connected New York State and New York City Building and Construction Trades Councils for his bid for the Democratic nod.
● NY-16: Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman's office said Wednesday he'd reached a deal with the D.C. attorney general's office hours after it charged him with a misdemeanor for falsely pulling a fire alarm in a House office building the previous month. Axios writes that the charge will be dropped in three months in return for Bowman pleading guilty on Thursday, apologizing, and paying the maximum fine of $1,000. "I am responsible for activating a fire alarm, I will be paying the fine issued, and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped," the congressman said.
Bowman attracted national attention on Sept. 30 when he pulled the fire alarm hours ahead of a possible government shutdown, and detractors were quick to accuse him of doing this to delay a vote on a GOP-crafted spending bill. He instead argued he was rushing to a vote, saying, "I was trying to get to a door. I thought the alarm would open the door, and I pulled the fire alarm to open the door by accident." The Capitol Police, though, says there were signs "with clear language" declaring that the door he wanted to pass through were "secured and marked as an emergency exit only."
All of this comes as Westchester County Executive George Latimer continues to consider a primary bid against Bowman in his safely blue seat. Latimer, though, says he wants to learn if the congressional map will need to be redrawn before making up his mind. Westchester Deputy Corrections Commissioner Michael Gerald launched his own campaign over the summer, but he finished September with less than $40,000 in the bank. The incumbent, for his part, had $180,000 on hand.
● ME Ballot: The University of New Hampshire's poll shows a 56-31 majority rejecting Question 3, which would replace the state's current investor-owned energy system with a publicly owned nonprofit. The results are similar to the 54-31 lead for "no" that the GOP firm Moore Information Group found in its mid-September survey for opponents of Question 3.
However, a YouGov survey for the Climate and Community Project that was also released Wednesday finds a 37-37 deadlock. The sponsor describes itself as "a progressive climate policy think tank developing cutting-edge research at the climate and inequality nexus."
UNH also finds 59% of respondents supporting Question 1, which would "bar some quasi-governmental entities and all consumer-owned electric utilities from taking on more than $1 billion in debt unless they get statewide voter approval," with 16% against.
● OH Ballot: AdImpact relays that abortion rights groups in the Issue 1 fight have now spent or reserved $19.9 million, compared to $13.4 million from the conservative "no" side. Cleveland.com's Andrew Tobias separately says that "yes" groups hold an even larger $16.5 million to $7.5 million advantage, though it's not clear what the source of the discrepancy is. AdImpact reported last week that progressives had a $12.1 million to $10.5 million edge, while anti-abortion forces had the spending advantage two weeks before.
● PA Supreme Court: AdImpact reports that Democrat Dan McCaffery and his allies have now outspent Republican Carolyn Carluccio's side $6.8 million to $3.5 million in advertising and future reservations, an increase from their $4.2 million to $3.2 million advantage one week before.
Carluccio herself also attracted new scrutiny when the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that, when its editorial board asked if Joe Biden won the 2020 election, she declared, "I have no idea." The Republican, after seeing her audience's surprise, tried to walk it back. "Yeah, I think he's the president. Obviously, he's our president. I believe he won the election. There are people in my party who don't believe that. I do believe that I'll be very clear about it. And I should have just been more direct in the beginning."
Carluccio, though, has been all too happy to humor the people in her party who deny Biden's victory. When the paper asked her during the primary if she thought the 2020 and 2022 elections were fair, she offered a characteristically confusing non-answer: "If even one Pennsylvanian has concerns about our electoral process, we must address them. Our government cannot simply dismiss the concerns of a large portion of our electorate."
The Inquirer's board also asked Carluccio this month about language removed from her website saying she would defend "all life under the law." The candidate insisted that those words had merely been "updated" by one of her consultants. The paper went on to endorse McCaffery this week.