- Redistricting: An Unlikely Boehner Ally
- August 25, 2015
- Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
- Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has an unlikely ally - redistricting. Three of the most outspoken conservative opponents of the speaker find their political futures under threat this summer as Republican state lawmakers prepare to redraw local congressional maps.
Redistricting efforts in Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina, could result in Reps. Dan Webster, Dave Brat, and Mark Meadows drawn out of their jobs before the 2016 election.
There's a long way to go before any new maps are put into place: Florida's and Virginia's legislatures are in special sessions to redraw their maps after court decisions, and the Florida lawmakers have specific instructions not to take politics into consideration. Meanwhile, the North Carolina Supreme Court is still preparing to hear arguments in a gerrymandering lawsuit. But already, there have been enough signs to scare anti-establishment conservatives.
In Florida's new draft congressional map, Webster's district absorbs thousands of Democratic voters and turns into a majority-minority seat; Webster, who ran for speaker against Boehner in 2015, told legislators that the new district would be "impossible to win."
Many Republicans in Virginia would like to do the same to Brat's district as they prepare a court-ordered redistricting little more than a year after Brat defeated ex-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary. Brat also voted against Boehner for speaker this winter.
In North Carolina, the GOP congressional delegation is packed with members who have experience and connections in the state legislature that may redraw their map—advantages that Meadows, who recently filed a motion to remove Boehner from power, does not have.
Webster himself told National Journal he doesn't blame state legislators or think they're out to get him. In a state with an anti-gerrymandering amendment to the constitution, other factors are just working against the onetime speaker candidate.
In Virginia, a court directed lawmakers to shift African-American voters out of Rep. Bobby Scott's heavily Democratic district, leaving the neighboring Brat as an appealing target.
Ironically, Brat's saving grace could end up being Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who can sign or veto whatever plan the legislature approves.
In North Carolina, Meadows said he has faith that the process will be fair. "I trust the state legislature and the North Carolina Supreme Court, both of which have my admiration and respect," Meadows said.