Dear Missouri Political Observers,In January we quietly whispered to a few of our Republican and Democrat friends that we thought the Courts were going to redraw the Congressional map in order to avoid a nasty primary between Clay and Carnahan. We were basically laughed at and told that was impossible.
The ridicule made us think that they were right and that it probably was a farfetched idea, so we dropped the thought. The reason we began thinking that the Supreme Court might change the lines was because Russ Carnahan never stopped campaigning or fundraising. When those lines came out we thought any normal candidate (especially with his name ID) would make the move into another race. Then after Robin Carnahan decided not to seek re-election we were sure Russ would run for Secretary of State. But he didn’t. He just kept campaigning and fundraising and working the new district.That’s when we started wondering if a birdie told him to sit tight, stay the course and things would change. After all the Supreme Court leans slightly to the left and a few of the judges have close ties with the Carnahans. On top of that the Republicans basically rammed through a map (with Clay’s help) that will result in 6 Republicans and 2 Democrats. It wouldn’t be hard for a judge to feel like that was not fair.
Then the Senate maps were thrown out, while the House maps were upheld and we thought about what our friends had said to us and decided they must have been right. That was at the beginning of April.Now we are in the middle of May and we are still wondering why the court challenge to the congressional maps has not been decided. Would you like to hear our crazy theory?
It could be that the Supremes are waiting for session to be over so that the Republican legislature cannot be called back into a special session to pass a map without the Governor. That would mean the Court has to draw the lines. Under that scenario they could do several things.In both these scenarios they could easily fix Cleavers district and make it much more compact and winnable.
Option 1- They could draw Clay a nice district and give Carnahan a winnable district that would avoid a Democratic primary. This would shift the other districts around and most likely put two Republican candidates together. Luetkemeyer and Wagner could easily find themselves running in a heated primary with less than 60 days away. Depending on how the lines were drawn Wagner could have more primary votes in her eastern region of the district which would be a bloodbath for republicans.Option 2- Clay and Carnahan get the same deal as option 1 but this time they put Luetkemeyer in with Hartzler. This would create a wild primary between the Republicans leaving Hensley in a stronger position for the general election against the bruised and battered Republican primary winner.
We know it sounds crazy and this probably never will happen … BUT it would keep our congressional districts more in line with the competitive nature of the state and it would avoid a costly primary for the Democrats while forcing a bloody Republican primary and drawing attention, resources and focus away from the U.S. Senate race.We know what you’re thinking. Your saying, “Bug, judges are just not that partisan!” We know you want to believe that and we want to believe that but history shows how hard it is to keep politics from creeping into the bench, and in this case it would be easy for a judge to feel like the Republicans overstepped their bounds by overriding the Governor.
Then you add, “It’s too late for a new map because the ballots are already printed.” No, the ballots have to be printed by the end of June.So you point out, “This won’t help Russ he will have to take Jefferson County back and he lost Jefferson County to Martin in 2010. He will still have a primary.” We doubt he will have a primary with less than 60 days for a candidate to raise over $1M million. We think if they redraw the lines the only candidates that could run would be those who already are raising money, and attending events.
A few experts even predict that Russ has a legitimate chance to beat Clay in a primary, which we feel only bolsters the odds that any of Clay's friends in the judiciary may be angling for a new map.
But you ask, “Bug, for this to work Gov. Nixon has to know about it. Why did the Gov. endorse Clay if he knew this was going to happen?” Good point. We haven’t figured that one out yet.Finally you state, “There is no way the judges can re-draw congressional lines without the legislature or governor at this late date.” We know seems odd, but they really do have jurisdiction.
Bottom line is our whole hypothesis is probably completely off base, BUT why haven’t they put this case to rest? They threw out the Missouri House challenge. So why haven’t they dropped this one weeks ago? What are they waiting for?
Keep in mind we have no inside scoop and no one has told us this might happen. (the opposite is what we have heard) We are just reading the tea leaves and things are not adding up.We may be crazy for even mentioning this, but we would appreciate your thoughts on why we are wrong.