Saturday, September 19, 2009

Possible implications for the 2012 reapportionment if the voter numbers in the last post reflect population numbers

The last post gave more details about where voter registration figures have increased dramatically, the shore area in Eastern Sussex County and the MOT-Smyrna area. The Bear-Glasgow area in New Castle County and Kent County between Milford and Smyrna showed some growth,but less dramatic. The other six areas showed stagnation in relative voter numbers ( an area's percentage of the statewide registration total). In the zero sum game of reapportionment, an area's numbers only matter in relation to other areas. If the shore or MOT pick up an additional legislative seat, it has to come from somewhere.

I would say for House Democrats the shore area is more of a problem.For MOT to get additional representation , Newark-Bear-Glasgow districts could be extended southward. This happened in 2002 when the 10th State Senate District which had been mostly in Newark moved much of the district below the C&D canal while maintaining enough territory in Newark for incumbent State Senator Steve Amick,who is from Newark, to retain his seat through two elections.In 2008 Amick retired and the seat was filled by Rep Bethany Hall-Long,who had represented the MOT area since 2002.

To add an additional seat at the shore it has to come from somewhere and it is possible it could come from New Castle County which may have several areas with stagnant growth, if registration figures mirror population trends at all. It is not necessarily a given that any incumbents will be redistricted out of a viable re-election bid,but in each of the last three reapportionments at least one incumbent in the House was not serving in the next legislative session with reapportionment as a possible factor.

In 1982 6th Representative District incumbent Tom Brady and 4th Representative District incumbent Kevin Free, both Republicans, were both placed in the newly reconfigured 4th Representative District as the designation of 6th Rep District moved from the City of Wilmington to the Penny Hill area along Philadelphia Pike. Brady retired and a primary was avoided. Free went on to represent the newly configured 4th Rep District .

In 1992 Roarke Moore, D-2nd Rep District lost the seat he won in 1990 to the man he had beaten, Rep Al O Plant, in the Democratic primary. Moore had beaten Plant by only 35 votes in 1990,so I am not sure how much redistricting had to do with the change. 1992 had a heated mayoral primary in Wilmington between Dan Frawley & Jim Sills and this may have had as much impact on turnout in the district as the change in boundary lines. 2249 voters cast ballots in the 1992 rematch . Only 1187 voted in this race in 1990 . It is possible that the mayor's race may have brought out more voters who would vote for Plant, who did not make it to the polls in the 1990 off year primary.

In 2002 Democrats Hazel Plant, 2nd Rep District , and Arthur Scott, 3rd Rep District, faced off in a primary which Plant won to represent the newly configured 2nd representative district in which they both lived. Sussex County Democratic Representatives Shirley Price and John Schroeder each lost re-election bids to Republicans in the General election after district lines were redrawn. Democrat Rep Rick DiLiberto saw his 14th representative district designation go to the Rehoboth area with his old district split among adjacent districts . He chose to run for state senate instead and lost in a bid to unseat Republican Liane Sorenson. Democrat Dave Brady's 8th district in Brandywine Hundred was split between adjacent districts and the 8th district designation went to the MOT area.His home election district was placed in the 7th Rep District along with Republican Majority Leader Wayne Smith ,who beat Brady in the 2002 general election.

The map will constrain the stretching of geography for many districts as adjacent state borders to the west statewide, to the north in New Castle County and to the south in Sussex County limit movement of boundary lines. Districts throughout the state along the coast and the Delaware River are inhibited from moving eastward. The less stretching of current districts that is possible will have a direct impact on how many new districts are lost when new districts are created, if census data supports such a change.
As always, political will is going to be a major factor and the election of 2010 will impact who is around in 2012 to exert political will.

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