May 1, 2019

Democrats' other 2020 battle: gerrymandering

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Democrats' ultimate ability to maintain control of the House after the 2020 election depends on whether they can flip state legislatures in Florida, Texas and North Carolina, according to a new report by the Democratic super PAC Forward Majority that was shared with Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans won 16 more U.S. House seats than suggested by vote share because of gerrymandered maps, per an AP analysis. The new report asserts that Democrats need to flip at least one legislative chamber in Florida, Texas and North Carolina "to avoid giving Republicans a structural advantage in Congress through 2032."

  • The backdrop: Democrats flipped legislative chambers in blue states like Maine, New York and Connecticut, and won gubernatorial races in battleground states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan during the midterms. They also flipped 12 House seats in Texas' state legislature and 7 House seats in Florida's.

Between the lines: Some Democrats are worried that the presidential race in 2020 will hurt the party's ability to focus more on key state legislature races, especially after Democratic state House candidates were out-raised 3-to-1 in both Florida and Texas in 2018.

  • "We worry folks are already becoming so consumed by the presidential race that we could lose sight of this again," said Benjamin Wexler-Waite, communications director for Forward Majority.
  • "We have to be honest with ourselves: what happened in 2018 was not enough and Republicans are on the brink of gerrymandering dozens of seats in Congress all over again," Wexler-Waite added.

The bottom line: Democrats will have to win a lot more state legislative seats than they did in 2018 if they want to grow their congressional power. 2020 holds a lot more consequence than just the presidential election.

Go deeper: Federal judges rule Michigan's voting maps are illegally gerrymandered

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George Zimmerman sues Buttigieg and Warren for $265M

George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Fla. seeking $265 million in damages from Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, accusing them of defaming him to "garner votes in the black community."

Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.

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Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The relative civility of the last eight Democratic debates was thrown by the wayside Wednesday night, the first debate to feature the billionaire "boogeyman," Michael Bloomberg, whose massive advertising buys and polling surge have drawn the ire of the entire field.

The big picture: Pete Buttigieg captured the state of the race early on, noting that after Super Tuesday, the "two most polarizing figures on this stage" — Bloomberg and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — could be the only ones left competing for the nomination. The rest of candidates fought to stop that momentum.

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Buttigieg and Klobuchar in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the debate stage Wednesday for voting to confirm Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and voting in 2007 to make English the national language.

What she's saying: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena. ... I did not one bit agree with these draconian policies to separate kids from their parents, and in my first 100 days, I would immediately change that."