Democrats Pour Millions into a Campaign to Fight GOP Redistricting

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The American Prospect

(June 1, 2017) Democrats have mounted an aggressive, multi-million dollar effort to fight back against district lines that they say were unfairly and even illegally drawn. And they may get an assist from the Supreme Court.

The practice of gerrymandering—manipulating electoral boundaries to favor the party in power—is hardly new, and the arcane topic of redistricting typically makes voters’ eyes glaze over. But the issue is drawing national attention amid mounting voter anger, a string of state and federal lawsuits, and growing concern among Democrats that gerrymandering could lock them out of power for another decade.

“It is unfair, it is undemocratic and in many of these states it is illegal,” says Kelly Ward, executive director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a new super PAC that is raising big money from Democratic donors and has a projected budget in the millions for the 2018 election cycle.

Unveiled in January by Eric Holder, President Obama’s former attorney general, the PAC will use legal, political and high technology tools to help tilt the playing field back toward Democrats. To that end, the PAC will help Democrats in their efforts to win gubernatorial and state legislative seats so that the party has a say in drawing district lines in 2021, following the 2020 Census.

Organizers are also eyeing ballot initiatives in such states as Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio that would require better bipartisan representation in the drawing of electoral maps. Their biggest champion is Obama himself, who has flagged redistricting changes as a leading priority, and called for district lines that “encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not to rigid extremes” in his farewell address.

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