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Redistricting Q&A: Tom Reynolds Redistricting Q&A: Tom Reynolds

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Politics

Redistricting Q&A: Tom Reynolds

January 21, 2011

TR: I think some of the history of that is who is controlling statehouses when there's redistricting. The 1992 redistricting brought about an opportunity that strengthened Republicans across the country. We saw some of those gains in the House in '92, but it really came in '94, obviously. So, when you look at the 2002 -- again, we picked up a sizable statehouse representation that helped us to strengthen redistricting from the Republican equation for the first time in nearly 30 years.

This time, in 2012, it will be even substantially more. We now have elected more Republican legislators this past election in the statehouses than any time in the history. It exceeds the 1974 election. So, the Republican Party nationwide is stronger than it's ever been able to be at the table.

A good example is Alabama. It has a Republican Governor; it's also now flipped the statehouse and senate I think for the first time since reconstruction. Look at North Carolina. Years ago they changed the law because we were electing Republican governors and the statehouse was controlled by Democrats so they took away the governor's veto. [Now] just the reverse has happened -- they have a Democratic governor but Republicans now have control of both legislative chambers. So now you have a total flip of what was keeping the Republicans from having at least one more seat down there. That's going to change.

Hotline: Let's talk about New York. Republicans picked up a handful of seats. But the state will lose two seats. Should those new members be worried?

TR: All the upstate members will want to look over their shoulder. I don't think the final spread of the enrollment of what the counties are hasn't come out yet. And the devil is in the details interms of where the population loss occurred. More than likely in New York one of those seats comes from upstate West, west of Syracuse. And the other one depends on what the loss of population was in the Eastern part of New York versus New York City and its boroughs of growth. The question is, what happened in the areas of Eliot Engel (D), Carolyn Maloney (D) and Maurice Hinchey (D). We need to wait and see. But Dean Skelos (R), who headed the Reapportionment Committee Task Force for the Senate in the '90s and 2000s is now the Senate majority leader, so he's a veteran in understanding how redistricting works.

Hotline: How do you anticipate the map changing?

TR: We gotta watch the census numbers. We don't know yet. My guess is, due to immigration, both legal and potentially illegal, the population will be higher in the boroughs of growth in New York City - the Bronx and Brooklyn - and slower upstate.

Hotline: What advice do you have for current members?

TR: So the first thing I would say to members of Congress is many of us worked very hard to get Republican control of redistricting or shared power in that. Now, the next step is the process of research, and what it's going to look like. But if you're not beginning to have a dialogue in the state capital where you came from, you should. Just so you are able to have relationships there that will give you your best chance to be heard when that time comes.

When you look at the big picture, we have 85 brand-new elective representatives, many have not served in the statehouse. Most have not seen redistricting. Redistricting is one of the toughest levels of politics I've seen. And so when lines are being drawn, you need to have relationships in your statehouse so state legislators know who you are, know what you're thinking; know what some of the unique aspects of your district are. You need to understand how redistricting is done in your state and what you need to do to have input.

Previous Redistricting Q&As:
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Executive Director Arturo Vargas
Texas Democratic Strategist Matt Angle
Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland
California Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson
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