Will redistricting give Cicilline a boost in CD1?
Most of the discussion about Rhode Island’s upcoming redistricting process has focused on usual concerns about legislative influence outflanking the public interest. But there’s an interesting subplot: Will the General Assembly-controlled process benefit US Representative David Cicilline in what could be a tough election following revelations about Providence’s fiscal crisis?
The first congressional district (CD1) represented by Cicilline is bound to gain thousands of additional voters because 1) it has quite quite a bit fewer people than the second district (CD2) represented by Jim Langevin; and 2) these districts are supposed to be close to equal in population.
Nate Silver (h/t Ted Nesi) finds that CD2 has 19,617 more residents than CD1. Republican National Committeewoman Carol Mumford tells me that maps drawn earlier this year by the RNC show CD2 has 7,263 more residents than CD1.
Where the lines are drawn in adding voters to CD1, Mumford notes, could make “quite a big difference” to the eventual Republican candidate.
The same choices will also be significant for Cicilline since vote-rich Providence is cleaved between CD1 and CD2. The city’s heavily Latino South Side, a traditional base of support for Cicilline, is currently in CD2. (One GOP candidate, Brendan Doherty, has taken a low-key approach to immigration so far, but some Latino voters might not relish his earlier statements on the subject as state police superintendent.)
Legislators will dominate the 18-member commission that will redraw Rhode Island districts, including the two congresional districts, as the ProJo reported this week. House Speaker Gordon Fox also happens to be a longtime political ally of Cicilline.
House spokesman Larry Berman called questions about this premature, noting the redistricting commission process has yet to formally start.
Asked about the possibility of Democratic lawmakers trying to aid Cicilline through redistricting, John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, says, “I think that’s a very real possibility.”
We asked Cicilline’s spokeswoman, Jessica Kershaw, whether the congressman hopes for more of Providence to be added to CD1. This is the response she provided via e-mail:
The redistricting process has not yet begun, but looking ahead, Congressman Cicilline has confidence that this process will be done fairly and in a way that causes the least disruption for voters. Because Providence is the only city that Congressmen Cicilline and Langevin share and it’s the population center of the state, it probably makes sense that the shift occur there.
So stay tuned.
On a related note, as the New York Times recently reported, congressmen in some other states have hired lobbyists to represent them during redistricting.
The stakes are enormous, with Republicans looking to use their control of a majority of statehouses to cement their hold on the House in 2012 and beyond. Eighteen states are either adding or losing Congressional seats; Texas is the big winner with four additional seats, while New York and Ohio are each losing two.
Cicilline and Langevin do not plan to hire lobbyists to work on their behalf during redistricting, according to Kershaw and Langevin spokesman Jonathon Dworkin.