This could very well be the prettiest redistricting map that you’re going to see this cycle:
You see, Missouri is in an interesting place where the state is: losing a Congressional seat; just coming off an election cycle where they flipped a seat to the GOP (making the current ratio 6 GOP / 3 DEM) ; and in possession of an almost veto-proof Republican legislature. So, Missouri Republicans decided to handle the situation by creating a 6 GOP / 2 DEM district map that cut up Russ Carnahan’s district and forced him to compete in a heavily African-American district (as per the Voting Rights Act) against incumbent William Lacy Clay. They also more or less left Emanuel Cleaver’s seat alone – Rep. Cleaver does not represent a majority-minority district, by the way; this will be important later. And then the legislature sent the map to Democratic governor Jay Nixon, who promptly vetoed it.
Oddly enough, when it came to the override, four Democrats crossed over to vote for the map, thus overriding the veto! Oddly enough, all four are African-Americans (who readily admitted that they were protecting Clay’s and Cleaver’s seats)! And oddly enough, Russ is not taking it well! And by ‘not taking it well’ I mean ‘engaging in profanity-laden, bitterly sarcastic invective,’ although I’m not entirely certain that Russ can actually spell any of those words*. It’s probably not helping that the Carnahan name may be a bit… colored, in Missouri African-American eyes… by virtue of past history.
Moving on, this is going to be a real headache for the Democratic party, both in Missouri and nationally. The state problems are obvious – hey, live by racial gerrymandering and identity politics, die by ‘em – but the issue on the national level is a bit more subtle. You see, Cleaver happens to head the Congressional Black Caucus, which is a bit more powerful in the Democratic party these days by virtue of the fact that its membership was not particularly affected by the Great Democratic Shellacking of 2010. Russ, on the other hand, is enough of an earner in the Democratic party that he could possibly challenge Clay for the seat anyway… and the fellow is apparently aggrieved enough to try (there’s no question that Russ is petty enough, of course). That means a messy, expensive primary, in a district that’s usually not vulnerable to such things.
In other words, it’s a lovely day out today.