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House 2024: It Is About Time to Put up or Shut Up

Primary season is around the corner, and before that is the holiday season, when it takes a lot more time to get things done. So, we're getting close to the point of no return when it comes to the 2024 House elections.

We actually mean that in two ways. First, if there's going to be monkeying with the various district maps, that needs to be wrapped up fairly soon so that candidates can decide where they will run, or if they will run at all. And there were two bits of news on the district map front yesterday. The story that will gladden Democrats' hearts is that Georgia's district maps have been struck down as racial gerrymanders by U.S. District Judge Steve Jones. He decreed that the state must redraw the maps by Dec. 8, and that the new maps must have an additional majority-Black congressional district in the western part of the Atlanta metro, along with two more majority-Black state Senate districts and five more majority-Black state House districts.

Georgia officials are still deciding whether or not to appeal the order. Presumably they will, although if they do, the situation in Georgia bears much resemblance to the one in Alabama. The state is very clearly gerrymandered, and the number of Black-majority political districts hasn't changed since 2010, despite the fact that all of the population growth has been among Black Georgians. In other words, as in Alabama, it's clear that something fishy—and racially based—is going on here. So, we would expect any appeals to fail.

On the other side of that particular coin, the North Carolina legislature has officially approved the maps that could give the GOP up to four more seats in the U.S. House. Keep in mind that the legal issue here involves state, and not federal, law, and that what changed is that conservatives got control of the North Carolina Supreme Court. So, just as the Georgia ruling is likely to stand, the North Carolina maps are likely to remain in place, too. There is a pending federal case, and it could wend its way through the courts AND lead to the North Carolina maps being struck down. But that's a lot of maybes, and the odds of a resolution before the 2024 maps have to be locked are pretty low.

And that leads directly into our second meaning of "put up or shut up." The time has also come for individual candidates to decide if they are running or not. Taking a look at the North Carolina situation, and reaching the same conclusion we did, Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-NC) decided that he's in trouble, thanks to the new maps. So, he'll be retiring from the House, and instead will run for Attorney General in his home state. The Tar Heel State hasn't elected a Republican AG since the 19th century, and Jackson is far and away the best-known candidate in the AG race (current AG Josh Stein is running for governor). Consequently, people who know North Carolina politics far better than we do say Jackson is a near shoo-in for the job.

Also announcing his retirement yesterday was Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD). Representing the D+10 MD-03, and a member of a dynastic Maryland political family, he was not in danger of losing his reelection bid. Having served 9 terms, he's just tired of the ongoing circus that is the current House of Representatives. So, he's done, and some other Democrat will take his place in Jan. 2025.

And finally, former wannabe senator Blake Masters is now wannabe representative Blake Masters. The Arizona Republican decided that another run for the Senate was not right for him, especially given how crowded that race is, and so will try for the seat Rep. Debbie Lesko (R) is vacating in the R+10 AZ-08. We presume, by virtue of his name recognition and his Peter Thiel-funded PAC, Masters will be the favorite. Whatever happens, however, that district will be represented by a Trumper. And Kari Lake's life just got a little easier, as next year's U.S. Senate primary just got a little less tough. (Z)

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