Texas Scrambles To Redistrict Lone Star State
NEAL CONAN, host:
This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.
The presumed frontrunner bows in tomorrow, Michele Bachmann preps for Waterloo, and Sarah Palin holds a Times Square summit. It's Wednesday and time for a...
Former Governor SARAH PALIN (Republican, Alaska): Rocket science...
CONAN: Edition of the Political Junkie.
Former President RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
Former Vice President WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, Im reminded of that ad. Wheres the beef?
Former Senator BARRY GOLDWATER (Republican, Arizona): Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Former Senator LLOYD BENTSEN (Democrat, Texas): Senator, youre no Jack Kennedy.
Former President RICHARD NIXON: You dont have Nixon to kick around anymore.
Former Gov. PALIN: Lipstick.
Former President GEORGE W. BUSH: But Im the decider.
(Soundbite of scream)
CONAN: Every Wednesday, political junkie Ken Rudin joins us to recap the week in politics. This week, political votes on the debt ceiling and Paul Ryan's Medicare plan. President Obama's former bodyguard declares that Maryland isn't all that blue and announces for the U.S. Senate.
Former Bay State Governor Mitt Romney officially hops into the GOP presidential derby tomorrow. Rick Santorum follows suit on Monday. Michele Bachmann will say one way or the other later this month in Iowa, where non-candidate Chris Christie will also visit, while Sarah Palin's on the road to New Hampshire.
In a few moments, Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News on the scramble at the Texas statehouse to come up with a new congressional map. We want to hear from you about how redistricting is shaping up in your state.
Later in the program, which TV show do you miss the most? Attorney General Eric Holder misses "The Wire." Email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. Which TV show do you want to bring back?
But first, political junkie Ken Rudin joins us here in Studio 3A. As usual, we begin with a trivia question. Hey, Ken.
KEN RUDIN: Neal, shouldn't they make this a TV show?
CONAN: I think they should probably - and then bring it back.
RUDIN: Exactly. Trivia question, okay, we're talking about Sarah Palin, the speculation about her political plans, whether she runs. Obviously, everybody says if she runs, it would be completely unconventional. So here's a question about another unconventional campaign.
Who was the last person to win a major-party presidential nomination without winning a single primary?
CONAN: Oh, the last person to win a major-party presidential nomination without winning a single state primary? If you think you know the answer, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, email@example.com. You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION. Of course, the winner gets a fabulous no-prize T-shirt.
And Ken, Sarah Palin insists this is not a campaign bus.
KEN RUDIN: And yet we follow her - whatever she says, whatever she does - we follow her completely. There are some people who think that this is the beginning of - well, certainly it's not a straight talk...
CONAN: The Straight Talk Express.
RUDIN: John McCain Had a Straight Talk Bus Tour in 2000, but there's no talk coming from Sarah Palin. It's a No-talk Bus Tour, I guess. She is traveling up the East Coast. She started at the Pentagon this weekend. She may be going into New Hampshire. That would be very interesting if she goes into New Hampshire tomorrow, when Mitt Romney announces his candidacy.
CONAN: It may take a little longer to get there than that.
RUDIN: But some people still think that, you know, this is a Donald Trump game that she's playing, that she's - you know, a lot of people mistreated her in the media, mistreated her in 2008, and she's returning the favor in 2011.
CONAN: Well, playing a little coy with the media, but in any case, asked the question, this is what she says.
Former Gov. PALIN: I'm fired up to share with America what many of the solutions can and should be. It's all common sense, and it's really it's not rocket science.
CONAN: And so she's gone to the National Archives to share the Constitution of the United States. She's gone to Mount Vernon and now Gettysburg, on her way to Boston, Massachusetts, stopped in New York, by the way, and had a pizza with Donald Trump in Times Square.
RUDIN: She did - speaking of Donald Trump. But look, again, we follow everything she says, whatever she does. I was watching Fox News last night, and to a person, everybody on Fox News says she's not going to run.
Now, of course they should say that because if they think she is going to run, she loses her contract with Fox. That may be part of it, right.
CONAN: Anyway, as you mentioned, Mitt Romney, the presumed frontrunner, announces tomorrow, and he's going to focus like a laser beam on the economy. They say if you're going to beat Mitt, you're going to beat him on the economy.
RUDIN: Which is what he should have focused on four years ago, instead of doing social conservative stuff because his acumen has always been on the economy and his business experience.
I still differ with you, Neal, a little bit in the word frontrunner. I don't think - look, the polls show him with 18 and Sarah Palin with 17. I don't think - the fact that he did run once before gives him, perhaps, a leg up, and he did raise a ton of money. He raised $10 million the other day and will raise a lot more.
I still think the word frontrunner is just far too soon to (unintelligible).
CONAN: All right.
CONAN: Rick Santorum, speaking of long shots, I think I'm safe there, will announce on Monday.
RUDIN: Yes, in Pennsylvania, where he represented the state two terms in the U.S. Senate.
CONAN: And Michele Bachmann is going to make her plans clear in Waterloo, Iowa. She represents, of course, a district in the neighboring state of Minnesota, was born in Waterloo. That's her hometown.
RUDIN: And a lot of people say that yes, she is going to enter the presidential race, and she very well could be a strong contender in the Iowa caucuses, given the fact that it is very prone to backing religious, conservative candidates. Tim Pawlenty - not Tim Pawlenty - Mike Huckabee won it four year ago, and, you know, the conservative movement there is very strong, could favor a Bachmann-type candidate.
CONAN: In the meantime, we have some people on the line who think they know the answer to this week's trivia question: Speaking of unconventional presidential candidates, who was the last person to get the nomination of a major political party without winning a single primary? 800-989-8255. Email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. And we'll begin with George(ph), George with us from Norman, Oklahoma.
GEORGE (Caller): hi.
CONAN: Hi, George.
GEORGE: Well, for this answer, I like Ike.
CONAN: Dwight David Eisenhower.
RUDIN: Well, Ike is wrong because - Tina was good, but Ike was never as good.
(Soundbite of laughter)
RUDIN: Ike, Eisenhower, defeated Robert Taft in the 1952 New Hampshire primary. That's really what got him started.
CONAN: All right, thanks, George. It might have been that D-Day thing that got him started, but anyway...
CONAN: Anyway, let's see if we can go next to - this is Ken(ph), Ken with us from Memphis.
KEN (Caller): Gerry Ford.
CONAN: Gerald Ford.
RUDIN: Well, actually Gerald Ford also beat Ronald Reagan in 1976 in the New Hampshire primaries. As a matter of fact, he won all the early primaries. It was Reagan who only came on late to make it a close race. But Ford won all the early primaries.
CONAN: Thanks very much, Ken.
RUDIN: You're welcome.
(Soundbite of laughter)
CONAN: This is Claude(ph), Claude with us from Washington.
CLAUDE (Caller): I'm going to guess - I was going to say Eisenhower, too, but I'm going to guess Herbert Hoover.
RUDIN: Herbert Hoover...
CONAN: We in radio call him Hebert Huber(ph).
RUDIN: You know something? Back then, they didn't have - they did have some -they didn't really have the presidential preference primaries. And if memory serves, Hoover did win some primaries. But in any way, I'm talking - he's not the last person to have done it.
CONAN: All right, thanks, Claude. Let's see if we can go next to - this is Joe(ph). Joe's with us from Norfolk in Virginia.
JOE (Caller): Yes, hi. I know primaries go back 100 years or more, but I don't think they became important until the '50s.
RUDIN: That's correct.
JOE: I'm going to say Tom Dewey.
CONAN: The governor of New York.
RUDIN: Well, Thomas Dewey did win a lot of primaries. He was the nominee in '44 and '48. But again, I'm looking for somebody more recent than that.
CONAN: Dewey beat Truman. I heard that.
RUDIN: I saw it in the headline.
CONAN: Let's see if we can go next - this is - let's go to Bill(ph), Bill with us from Jackson, Mississippi - Michigan.
BILL (Caller): Michigan, yes.
CONAN: Michigan, all right, more than one Jackson.
BILL: I was about to guess the ultimate dark horse, James Polk, but now that I know primaries didn't extend back that far, I'm just going to throw out a guess and say whew McGovern?
CONAN: George McGovern.
RUDIN: George McGovern, actually he did not win the New Hampshire primary, but his big victory in California in the primary basically won him the nomination. So McGovern did win some big primaries in '72.
CONAN: Thank you very much. Nice try, Bill, you got two shots at it, which really doesn't count. Peter(ph), Peter with us from Redmond in Oregon.
PETER (Caller): Hello, it's Hubert Horatio Humphrey in 1968.
CONAN: The happy warrior.
RUDIN: And that is the correct answer.
CONAN: Oh, ding, ding, ding, Peter. Congratulations.
RUDIN: One of the reasons is of course he got in the race after the filing deadline, when Lyndon Johnson dropped out of the race March 31st, 1968, as we all remember. Hubert Humphrey waited until the deadline had passed for all the primaries to have gone before he got into the race. So he got the nomination without winning a single primary, and there was bedlam in Chicago, as you remember.
CONAN: As a result. Peter, stay on the line, and we'll collect your particulars and send you a Political Junkie no-prize T-shirt in exchange for your promise to take a digital picture of yourself that we can post on our wall of shame.
PETER: I will do, thank you very much.
CONAN: Thanks very much. And Ken Rudin, in the meantime, there is a - well, what may be a new sex scandal in Congress.
RUDIN: Well, you know, first of all, the listeners should know that we've talked about this story a lot, whether it's worth discussing it. For the longest time, it really didn't seem to be. And we're going to eschew all the wiener jokes because we've gotten that out of our system, but we don't know what to make of this story.
This is Anthony Wiener, the congressman from Brooklyn who says his Twitter account was hacked, and basically a photograph of a man...
CONAN: From the waist down.
RUDIN: From the waist down, shall we say, was sent to a college student in Seattle, Washington, and he says that his Twitter account was hacked, and he hired a lawyer.
That was all the story, it seemed like it would disappear, and nobody cared about it. Yesterday, there was a very bizarre spectacle, when reporters -mostly from CNN but from elsewhere - cornered him and said: Did you send it? And he said: I'm not talking about it. Did you send the photos? I'm not talking about it. I want to talk about the debt limit.
The more he said he wouldn't want to talk about - now, that sounds like a very principled position: Look enough of this, this could be a very - just a completely bogus story, and there are more important things to talk about.
But then, you know, you have the Chris Lee, the congressman from upstate -Upstate New York - who sent pictures on Craig's List, you know, shirtless pictures. I mean, it seems to be feeding into a media that's dying for this kind of story.
And Wiener could have easily said: Yes, I didn't send it, and it's up to my lawyers. But by not giving a straight answer, it just fed the story on, and it's like in its fifth day already.
CONAN: And he's supposed to be making a statement today, sometime. We don't know when.
RUDIN: Well, we don't know. But, you know, yesterday, he was completely dismissive of the press. It was very ugly and again a story that could've easily disappeared. But he, by not answering, he let it continue.
CONAN: We should also note that there is now, in the state of Maryland, well, one person who used to be quite close to President Obama, it turns out, is going to be running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
RUDIN: Right, exactly, the former bodyguard. And Ben Cardin is up for a second term. Six years ago, he defeated Michael Steele, election to the Senate. Again, Maryland is a solidly Democratic seat. No Republican has been elected there to the Senate since 1980, Mac Mathias. But it's an interesting candidate.
CONAN: And we should note that the - there is an obituary we have to note today, the former governor of Texas, Bill Clements, who sort of reordered things in that state, the first Republican to win there in a long, long time.
RUDIN: Well, since Reconstruction, when he was elected in 1978. I mean, he was a former Defense Department official in Nixon and Ford administrations. When he ran in 1978, he was considered a strong a longshot. But the Democratic governor was beaten in the primary by a more liberal candidate. It allowed him to win.
He was elected in '78, defeated in '82, came back in '86. But he is the first Republican since Reconstruction. And basically he, along with John Tower, the senator, basically the founders of the modern Republican Party in Texas.
CONAN: More on Texas in a moment, where lawmakers are battling over how to draw new boundaries for congressional districts, redistricting always complicated, often contentious. It's happening in statehouses across the country. How is it playing out where you live? Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, email@example.com. As it happens, we're going to be going to Texas tomorrow to do the show from San Antonio. In the meantime, stay with us. Ken Rudin will stay with us, too. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
(Soundbite of music)
CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.
Studio 3A today, the latest stop on Ken Rudin's national bus tour. Check out his blog and his podcast. Try your hand at his notorious ScuttleButton puzzle. That's all at npr.org/junkie.
And now to the Lone Star State, where lawmakers are scrambling to come up with a new congressional map. The Texas Legislature failed to agree to a plan by the Monday deadline, so Governor Rick Perry ordered a special session.
The state gets four new seats in Washington based on the last census, and similar kinds of decisions - well, not the happy one of giving out four new seats in most places - but similar decisions are being posed in other state capitals across the country, where legislatures are proposing redrawn maps and angling for partisan advantage.
How is redistricting playing out where you live? 800-989-8255. Email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.
And joining us now from member station KUT in Austin is Wayne Slater, senior political writer with the Dallas Morning News. Wayne, always nice to have you on the program.
Mr. WAYNE SLATER (Senior Political Writer, Dallas Morning News): Great to be with you.
CONAN: And this seems like a grand gift to the party in power, four seats to give out. Everybody's Republican in Austin, anybody in control anyway. How come they can't decide?
Mr. SLATER: Look, it took six months, and they did absolutely nothing. I think the focus of the governor and the legislature was on other stuff: giant budget problems, other social issues that Rick Perry would like to have passed and largely were passed, if he runs for president. Congressional redistricting took a backseat.
CONAN: Took a backseat. This would seem to be a pretty big deal. A couple of those people in the legislature might have ambitions to be sitting in a different house in a couple years' time.
Mr. SLATER: In fact, there are. There's a very attractive Hispanic lawmaker from San Antonio, Joaquin Castro, who now under this new map is looking at new district, one of the four new districts, as a possible running place. So yeah, this is important to some folks, but it wasn't important enough to get done.
Again, it doesn't make any difference what Democrats want. This is super-majorities on the Republican House and Senate, and they didn't make this an issue.
Now, that was Monday. Tuesday, when the governor called the legislature back into special session, by that afternoon, he had put this issue on the agenda. That suggests, from what I'm hearing, that after six months of inattention, they now have a map that may, in fact, pass very quickly.
RUDIN: Wayne, Texas grew by over four million votes in the past decade. They gained four seats, and as you say, the Republicans have complete control. And yet, given the fact that we're talking about a lot of minority majority or majority minority districts, with the growth in Latino voting strength, the Republicans can't just say these next four seats, these four new seats will be Republican seats.
Mr. SLATER: Not only can they not say that because it would not be nice, but...
RUDIN: But the Voting Rights Act, right.
Mr. SLATER: The Voting Rights Act, you're exactly right, Ken. And that's in effect not what they're doing. What they - the map that was unveiled yesterday for Texas basically says look at these four new seats, we'll give two of them to Republicans and two of them Hispanic or minority majority districts that will likely go Democrat.
But the reconfiguration of the entire map, as the state delegation moves from 32 people to 36, clearly gives nothing significant in terms of a more - a greater advantage to Hispanics.
In other words, after a decade of population growth, driven in large part, two-thirds of that population growth was Hispanic, there's really nothing in this new map that demonstrates or represents their increase in population.
CONAN: So even if they do agree on a map there in the legislature, could we end up in court?
Mr. SLATER: Well, we're going to end up in court always. That's a given. It's interesting, I was talking to a state representative who was at the White House for Super Bowl Sunday. And while he was there, he talked - besides to J.Lo, who was also there...
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SLATER: He talked to Eric Holder and said to the attorney general, you know, keep your eye, if you would, on redistricting in Texas. And he says Holder told him: I'm going to keep both eyes on redistricting in Texas.
So yeah, we're going to see this, and Democrats are fairly confident that if the current proposed map passes that it will not pass muster with the Justice Department, but we'll see.
CONAN: We're talking with Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News, 800-989-8255, as we consider redistricting. How's it going in your state? Email us, email@example.com. And Karen's(ph) on the line from San Antonio.
KAREN (Caller): Hi, I just - I guess you all are going to be here tomorrow. Unfortunately, I won't be able to see you, but I will be able to listen.
KAREN: But bring your own water.
(Soundbite of laughter)
CONAN: Okay, I will do that.
(Soundbite of laughter)
KAREN: I just feel that the (unintelligible) on redistricting is I always got the impression that the Republicans, what their main goal is, and if they can accomplish this, they've accomplished everything, was just to get rid of Lloyd Doggett.
They tried to redistrict him out of office once. It didn't work. You know, he's a thorn in the side of the Republicans in the House, and I was just wondering if you all had any comments.
CONAN: Wayne Slater, is that a Republican goal here?
Mr. SLATER: You betcha. You're - she has it exactly right. Lloyd Doggett is the bete noir of the Republican Party in Texas. She's right. In 2003, when Tom DeLay came here and basically redid the districting maps of two years earlier, it was Lloyd Doggett who was in the crosshairs. He survived.
To show you how, from the Democrat point of view, how egregious - again from a Democrat point of view - this current map is, Travis County, the most liberal county in Texas, would be divided five ways, into five separate districts. And Austin, which is the closest thing to Soviet Russia in Texas...
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SLATER: ...and this is where I sit right now at the University of Texas, would be represented by a Republican. So this is a target at Lloyd Doggett, to get rid of him, and obviously an effort for the Republican Party to flex its muscles.
CONAN: Karen, thanks very much for the call.
KAREN (Caller): Thank you. You all have a good trip.
CONAN: Thanks very much, and we're sorry we're not going to get a chance to see you tomorrow. By the way, Wayne Slater, has anybody asked Tom DeLay for his ideas on a map here?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SLATER: Last time I saw Tom DeLay was in court, before he was convicted of money laundering in connection with the 2003 thing. But most of what we talked about was his stint on "Dancing with the Stars."
CONAN: Well, at least you have your priorities straight.
Mr. SLATER: I think he's staying away from this.
CONAN: I think you're probably right about that. In the meantime, you dropped a really interesting nugget there. Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, running for president?
Mr. SLATER: You know, he says he isn't, and he's absolutely made no moves. There's no apparatus, unlike George Bush 11 years ago really had the apparatus of a campaign in June of 1999, no evidence of anything significant, which I think is a guarantee in this Tea Party year, where emotion counts, that Rick Perry is seriously looking at running for governor.
He told a friend just the other...
CONAN: For president.
Mr. SLATER: I'm sorry, for president, yeah, we moved - he told a friend just the other day that he was shocked. That was the word that Governor Perry used, shocked at the Republican field, at the weakness of the Republican field. And he asked whether it was possible that his party could produce somebody credible without the kind of baggage that seems to be encumbering other folks.
He's looking seriously at this. I'm going to be in New Orleans in a couple of weeks with him at a Republican gathering. He's got four speeches, including one in New York, where he's substituting for Donald Trump, who bailed out, speaking to Republicans.
He's - I would not be surprised if he gets into this race.
CONAN: And he plans to visit his close relatives in Des Moines?
Mr. SLATER: No specific - well, they haven't told me but no specific Iowa plans on the book right now. But I absolutely would expect him to be there.
But if he does it, I think he understands, he and his political consultant Dave Carney, who actually works for Newt Gingrich right now, which is kind of difficult, but he and his sort of sort of team understands that this is a different kind of year, in which you just show up at different places, and you don't have to announce your candidacy like you did 10 years ago, so early.
He thinks that there is an opportunity here, and if the party really concludes that he's - that they need somebody else that he wants to be positioned to be that person.
He has the three things I think from his side that are important. One is he's credible on financial issues, on fiscal issues. Two, the talk radio guys who don't like compromise like him, especially Rush Limbaugh. And three, he has worked for years cultivating social conservatives and the religious right. That's a pretty strong group of advantages.
RUDIN: And quickly, and of course he'd be the only candidate from the South. But doesn't he remind you a little bit of Fred Thompson? Could you imagine him really working to get the nomination?
Mr. SLATER: Actually, I could, to be honest with you. I remember going out with George Bush in 1999 and 2000 and realizing how hard this is to run. Rick Perry, if he decides to do this, truly would work.
I remember traveling with Thompson some, and it was palpable, as you remember, that he didn't want to do this. If Rick Perry gets into this, he will want to do it. I wonder, however, if he's raising his name ID and ultimately positioning himself for a vice presidential pick...
CONAN: I thought you were going to say for a TV show on Fox.
Mr. SLATER: Well, actually, he would be great on a TV show for Fox.
CONAN: Wayne Slater, thanks very much for your time today.
Mr. SLATER: Great to be with you.
CONAN: Wayne Slater, a senior writer for the Dallas Morning News, with us today from the studios of member station KUT in Austin.
Our focus is on redistricting, what is happening where you live.
Nancy is on the line, calling from Suffolk(ph) in Massachusetts.
NANCY (Caller): Hi.
NANCY: Well, I was telling a guy who answered the phone that I actually testified at a redistricting hearing yesterday, and I'm from western Mass, John Olver's district. And, you know, bottom line is, I don't envy these guys, their task at all because, as you know, we have an extremely powerful delegation and to try to figure out which one of them have to go away is, you know, it's a completely thankless task but...
CONAN: Massachusetts has all Democratic members of Congress. They're losing a seat. Somebody's got to go, Ken.
RUDIN: Yeah, exactly. And they're going from 11 to 10, and I think there's a lot of pressure on least - if they don't force one Democratic member to run against another Democratic member in a primary, then maybe they can get them to run against Scott Brown for the Senate, but this is a very unenviable task because even though the Democrats control everything, it's only - it's a Democrat who's going to lose his seat.
CONAN: So almost to the opposite situation as they have in Texas.
Nancy, what were you hoping to see come out of this process?
NANCY: Well, I'm hoping that the western part of the state, you know, gets to keep Richie Neal and John Olver, and, you know, other than that, I don't really know because...
(Soundbite of laughter)
NANCY: ...it's just hard to, you know, to figure out what to do. You know, I guess the best thing to do is go with our - you know, getting rid of our most junior member, who's Bill Keating. You know, nice guy, but he is the freshman, so...
CONAN: Last hired, first fired. OK, Nancy...
CONAN: ...thanks very much for the phone call. We appreciate it. We should mention - last week we talked a lot about the election in New York's 26th Congressional District. A Democrat, Nancy Hochul, won with a surprise election there, sworn in as a new member of the House of Representatives today. But, how does that election changed the calculations in upstate New York?
RUDIN: Well, that's a good question, because New York loses two seats, and the Republicans control the state Senate, so they have a say in what happens. We figure one Democrat from the city, one Republican from upstate loses his or her seat, but now, that she, the Democrat...
CONAN: It's in a Republican district.
RUDIN: It's in a Republican district. They have to lose, you know, they have to pick another Republican, but that's going to be very tough. There's a tremendous amount of lobbying going on right now in Albany.
CONAN: We're talking with Ken Rudin, our political junkie, as we do every Wednesday. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
And let's go next to Amanda. Amanda with us from Oglesby in Illinois.
AMANDA (Caller): Hi, Neal. Thanks for taking my call.
AMANDA: Yeah. So we've got kind of an interesting situation here. We have four Democrats lose their seats in the last election, and now, the Illinois Legislature, they're trying to control the Democratic Party, has redrawn the state to effectively take away four of the Republican seats.
RUDIN: Well, actually, I think it's even worse than that. The map that passed the legislature, I guess, Governor Quinn is either about to sign or has already signed 10 of the 11 Republicans in the state - the congressional delegation are either going to be merged with other incumbents or moved into Democratic seats and...
AMANDA: Yeah, yeah.
RUDIN: ...so it looks like as many as six Republicans could lose their seats in 2012, which would wipe out the gains they had in 2010.
AMANDA: Yeah. And I think probably the most interesting one is Adam Kinzinger who was sort of talking about as an up-and-comer who's now going to run against Democrat Jesse Jackson to keep his seat.
CONAN: All right. Amanda, thanks very much.
AMANDA: You're welcome. Thank you.
CONAN: Email from Marlan in Michigan. This - in Michigan, we were the only state to lose population and thus a congressional seat. The latest map proposals coming out of the state legislature show that Congressman Sandy Levin would end up facing Congressman Gary Peters. There's some talk, however, the matchup may never happen because Congressman Peters is considering running for Oakland County executive. All in all, the maps hurt the Dems but still keeps two majority - minority seats for Detroit, thus bearing Representative John Conyers and Hanson Clarke.
RUDIN: Exactly. And that's what happening in a lot of states. For example, in Indiana, where the Republicans control the legislative process there, Joe Donnelly's seat was - the Democrat was basically wiped out, but he's announcing he's going to run for the Senate seat that Dick Lugar holds. So a lot of Democrats are looking to see, well, maybe I should run elsewhere if I can't keep my seat.
CONAN: Maybe even Washington State.
(Soundbite of laughter)
RUDIN: Right. As Dennis Kucinich is talking about in Ohio.
CONAN: Let's get Glenn on the line, and Glenn is with us from Columbus.
GLENN (Caller): Hi. I know here in Ohio, Dennis Kucinich believes he's going to be redistricted out. I don't know if that's true or not. And Schwarzenegger tried to get a nonpartisan redistricting plan done in California, and to be fair, he came to Ohio to campaign for the same thing, and it would have benefited the Democrats. Is there any state that has, like, a truly nonpartisan, like, computer geek setup system?
RUDIN: Oh, yes. Many of them. Iowa just had a map released a few weeks ago, a few months ago. Iowa, Arizona, I believe New Jersey is one of them. I think California has a redistricting commission. There are more and more states that are getting tired of the partisan battles between whoever controls the legislature and the governorship controls the redistricting process. And so they're to get more and more nonpartisan, civic-minded redistricting plans coming.
GLENN: We lost the plan here in Ohio. It says, like on the constitutional vote. We lost that chance here.
RUDIN: Right. And the Republicans control everything in Ohio - the governorship, the legislature, and Kucinich's district is, as you say, all but gone.
GLENN: I see. Thanks.
CONAN: Thanks, Glenn.
Interesting mentioning California. The first time I think in its history, that state is not picking up any congressional seats.
RUDIN: That's absolutely true, and that is a shocker. The big gain, of course, is Texas, but having said that, they're still going to redraw all the 51, 52 seats in California, and there's going to be a lot of battling between Asian groups and Hispanic groups for political control. A lot of white Democratic seats in the Los Angeles era area - has seen a tremendous influx of Latino political strength. So there's - even though there will be no change in the number and may stay as many Democrats as there was before, there will be a lot of new faces in the 2013 delegation.
CONAN: And quickly, let's go the state of Missouri.
RUDIN: Well, Russ Carnahan, who represents the second district there, his district has been wiped out by the Republican legislature. He could run in Saint Louis against Lacy Clay, who's African-American, or he could run in a new suburban Republican district. Some people are saying he should run for lieutenant governor, which is (unintelligible)'s father, Mel Carnahan won, a job he's - Mel Carnahan once held.
CONAN: All right. Ken, we're going to ask you to stay with us. Ken Rudin, our political junkie, is with us every Wednesday, but we're going put him on the spot on another subject in just a minute.
CONAN: Coming up, the attorney general yesterday all but ordered the creators of the HBO show "The Wire" to give us all another season. Well, he was kidding, mostly. But if you have the power, what show would you bring back to TV? Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Drop us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Ken's pick - no, no, no. It's not going to be "McHale's Navy." Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
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