Leading Off:• VA Redistricting: That was definitely one short special session. Virginia lawmakers had been called back to the state capitol on Monday to hammer out a new congressional map, seeing as the current lines were ruled an unconstitutional racial gerrymander by a federal court earlier this year. But with the state House and Senate in Republican hands and forever at loggerheads with Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, odds were always high that the two sides would never reach an agreement and would instead send the whole matter back to court to have the judges serve as cartographers.
Now that’s a near certainty, though for reasons unrelated to redistricting. At the start of the new session, Republican lawmakers attempted to oust state Supreme Court Justice Jane Roush, whom McAuliffe appointed on an interim basis last month, with a judge more to their liking, Ronnie Alston. However, the vote failed, thanks to a defection by retiring GOP state Sen. John Watkins, who was disgusted by his own party’s flagrant partisan posturing.
But had the legislature remained in session to work on redistricting, Republicans could have kept trying to install Alston in place of Roush. Since Democrats were pissed at Republicans for trying to bump off Roush in the first place, and since they knew there was no longer any hope of any kind of deal on a new map, they banded together with Watkins a second time to adjourn the special session—all on the very day it began.
It’s a pretty fascinating exercise in power, with one chamber basically saying “fuck you” to the other. Republicans say they think the Senate might not be able to adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the House, so we could be back here right quick. But if Watkins continues to defect, the GOP will lack a quorum and won’t be able to conduct any business; in that scenario, McAuliffe would be able to re-appoint Roush to a second interim term when her current one expires in September. And Republicans, who could have traded a favorable congressional map for a Democratic priority like, say, Medicaid expansion, will instead walk away with nothing—and at least several more months of Jane Roush on the high court.
• CO-Sen: Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler’s name has come up as a possible statewide candidate for some time—as far back as last cycle, in fact, when fellow Republicans talked him up as a possible challenger to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. Then as now, however, Brauchler has suggested he’s been too busy overseeing the prosecution of James Holmes, the shooter who murdered 12 people and wounded 70 others at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012.
However, Holmes was recently convicted and sentenced to life in prison (Brauchler had sought the death penalty), so now, presumably, Brauchler has more time to devote to politics. But maybe not just yet: In a recent interview, he did not rule out a bid against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, but said he still has additional charges to attend to regarding the Holmes case. So far, no serious Republicans have stepped forward.
• NC-Sen: All of a sudden, we’re hearing quite a bit more chatter from potential Democratic Senate candidates in North Carolina than we have been all cycle. Chris Rey, the mayor of Spring Lake (pop. 13,000), now says he’s considering a bid and will decide by the second week of September. Rey is young (just 38), and he’s also African American, which sets him apart from the other three Democrats who have expressed varying degrees of interest lately: former Rep. Heath Shuler, former state Rep. Deborah Ross, and state Rep. Duane Hall.
• WI-Sen: If you scratch your head hard enough to figure out why a conservative group called Restoration PAC just released this new poll of Wisconsin’s Senate race, you’re going to draw blood—a lot of it. The survey, an online-only affair from Luntz Global, finds Democratic ex-Sen. Russ Feingold beating GOP Sen. Ron Johnson by a 50-42 margin, an absolutely punishing place for an incumbent to find himself. What’s more, it’s very close to a March PPP poll that had Feingold up 50-41, numbers that were confirmed by a 54-38 Feingold lead Marquette found in April….