- The Washington Times - Monday, October 22, 2001

The combination of Republican redistricting gains and fewer competitive races is making a Democratic takeover of the House increasingly remote next year, say election analysts.
"Those few states that have either completed redistricting or are moving ahead with likely plans seem to be drawing relatively few competitive districts," says Stuart Rothenberg, a veteran congressional elections analyst.
"Obviously, the fewer the number of competitive races nationally, the more difficult it will be for the Democrats to gain the six net seats that they will need to take over the House," Mr. Rothenberg said in a recent report assessing next year's congressional races.
Of course, the 2002 midterm congressional elections are still a year away and anything can happen to change the political dynamics between now and then, especially if the economy takes a lot longer to recover than current forecasts suggest.
But for now, the chance of the Democrats taking control of the House "seems a formidable task," Mr. Rothenberg said.
The biggest factor that Republicans have going for them is the congressional redistricting process, which is drawing new district lines to adjust for changes in each state's population. Republican campaign officials believe they may pick up a net gain of 10 House seats once all the lines are drawn, largely in those states where they control the legislative redistricting.
Some Republican National Committee officials think their gains may be somewhat less than that, perhaps half a dozen or so. Democratic congressional campaign officials now believe that the redistricting trade-offs probably will be a wash at best.
About half the states have not yet drawn or approved their new district boundary maps, a process that is unlikely to be completed until sometime next summer, and several of the changes are expected to be challenged in the courts. In many cases, that will delay candidate recruitment in both parties.
But the early indications are that Republicans stand to make significant gains from redistricting alone.
In Michigan, for example, Republican lawmakers have merged two Democratic districts and have made Democratic Rep. David E. Bonior's seat which he intends to leave to run for governor more Republican, resulting in a potential three-seat loss for the Democrats there.
Pennsylvania will lose two House seats under the reapportionment process, but Republicans, who control the state redistricting machinery, are attempting to create another two Republican seats by erasing two to three Democratic districts. "The GOP's 11-10 congressional district advantage is likely to grow to 12-7 or even 13-6," Mr. Rothenberg forecasts.
In Texas, which will gain two additional seats, a redistricting plan being fought out in a state court could boost the Republican delegation by at least two seats and perhaps more if Republicans are successful in their appeal.
California, which will gain one new seat, is turning into a debacle for the Democrats, who have hoped to make its biggest congressional gains there. However, deal-making between the parties to protect their incumbents probably will result in giving the Democrats only a single pickup, though even that could be offset by a Republican victory in Rep. Gary A. Condit's district. Democratic officials there were urging Mr. Condit not to run in the wake of the disappearance of a former intern with whom he had an intimate relationship.
Elsewhere, Republicans are expected to pick up new seats in Florida, Arizona and Nevada.
Democrats likely will offset some of these redistricting losses by picking up at least two new seats in Georgia, and perhaps two other redrawn Republican districts that have opened them up to Democratic takeover.
Democrats in North Carolina, where they control the entire redistricting process, seem likely to pick up that state's new seat as well.

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