After he leaves the White House, President Obama will make a major priority of his post-presidency political activity working with a campaign being spearheaded by former Attorney General Eric Holder that will focus on redistricting reform, a major elections issue that has allowed Republicans to trounce Democrats in state houses and in the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to a Politico report Monday, Holder will serve as chair of a new umbrella group called the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which will bring together national and state-level Democratic political groups, as well as unions and progressive organizations. The group will mobilize around elections in the years to come that will determine who gets to draw the districting maps after the 2020 census which will be in place for the following decade of elections. The White House has worked closely on launching the campaign, and the President strongly backed the choice of Holder as its chair, Politico said.
“American voters deserve fair maps that represent our diverse communities—and we need a coordinated strategy to make that happen,” Holder said, according to Politico. “This unprecedented new effort will ensure Democrats have a seat at the table to create fairer maps after 2020.”
Obama’s involvement will be most focused at the state-legislative level, White House political director David Simas told Politico.
The Tea Party wave of elections in 2010 gave Republicans outsized influence over redistricting after the last census, which tilted the electoral map significantly in their favor. The GOP controls a vast majority of statehouses and has, since 2010, maintained a comfortable margin in the U.S. House, even as President Obama was able to win in 2012 by four percentage points nationwide. According to Politico, Republicans won 57 percent of seats in 2014, even as they only earned 52 percent of votes.
Gerrymandering is also commonly blamed for the dysfunction in the national legislature, as Republican representatives are often more worried about a primary challenge to their right rather than a Democrat running against them for their seat.
Elizabeth Pearson, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, has been brought on as National Democratic Redistricting Committee’s president, and House Majority PAC executive director Ali Lapp as its vice president. It plans to bring on more staff come December, and is already pitching donors on supporting its efforts in next year’s state elections in Virginia and New Jersey, Politico reported.