The National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) is a Democratic Party PAC (political action committee) conceived in late 2016 by political operatives in the Democratic Party and the Obama administration, including President Barack Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder. It officially launched on January 12, 2017. 
The NDRC serves as a “strategic hub for a comprehensive redistricting strategy” for Democrats in congressional elections in response to Republican control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2010 through the 2018 midterm elections. The PAC’s leadership claims these Republican victories are the result of what it deems Republican “gerrymandering” efforts in congressional districts, meaning congressional districts that are intentionally drawn to favor one political party over another. 
NDRC is headed by Eric Holder, who served as attorney general during the Obama administration. In 2012, Holder was held in contempt of Congress for his role in the so-called Fast and Furious investigation.  The PAC’s leadership also consists of alumni from Democratic Party PACs, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Democratic Governors Association (DGA), and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).
The National Democratic Redistricting Committee and its sister organizations were created in response to Republican victories at the state legislative and Congressional level during the Obama administration. Between President Obama’s victory in the 2008 presidential election and the end of his second term in January 2017, the Democratic Party lost control of nearly 1,000 state legislative, gubernatorial, and congressional seats, including 23 governorships, 33 state senates, and 32 state houses. 
The Republican Party gained a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2010 midterm elections. After the 2010 decennial census and the subsequent round of redistricting in 2011, Republicans maintained control of the lower house in the 2012, 2014, and 2016 elections. This led some Democrats like Holder to accuse Republicans of “gerrymandering”—unfairly manipulating the redistricting process in state congressional and legislative races—to favor Republicans in post-2011 elections.
As a 527 political action committee (PAC), the NDRC pursues a partisan mission of electing Democrats to public office (objectives its nonprofit affiliates are more restricted in engaging in). NDRC’s overtly partisan mission is often couched in “nonpartisan” language. According to a July 2017 op-ed in CNN written by Holder, NDRC was created to fix a “broken” Congress, which has “become unbound to the ‘great mass of the people’” it was created to represent due to supposedly unfair district boundaries created by Republicans after the 2010 census and 2011 redistricting efforts. Holder argues that, by aiding Democrats in future elections, they can redraw district boundaries in 2020-2021 that are more favorable. 
The NDRC boasts it is the “first organization of its kind: A Democratic group that brings together major party organizations on a multi-cycle, state-by-state redistricting strategy ahead of the 2020 Census.” 
It’s unclear when the NDRC was first proposed, but a fundraising pitch to roughly 50 major liberal donors by individuals closely connected with the Obama administration surfaced in the July 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The pitch was reportedly led by then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. 
Participants in the initial fundraising pitch reportedly included representatives from AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, the National Education Association, EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood, the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, and America Votes. Members of the Democratic Governors Association, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, and the Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC were also present. 
From the start, the project that became NDRC was deeply connected with top Democratic Party leadership. During the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, Politico reported that then-President Obama was “fully briefed on this [the NDRC fundraiser] and he is 100 percent committed, both in the short term and after he leaves office,” according to Mitch Stewart, a Democratic consultant who served as battleground states director on Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. (Stewart is a board member for the National Redistricting Foundation, an NDRC-affiliated nonprofit.)  Then-White House political director David Simas further reported to Politico that “literally every entity that’s involved in Democratic or progressive politics has been briefed and is supportive — that includes the [Hillary] Clinton campaign.” 
The NDRC uses a number of approaches to influence 2021 redistricting efforts and elect Democratic politicians to state and federal legislatures: supporting state ballot initiatives, using targeted litigation, developing partnerships with other liberal groups, and funding political campaigns.
In a February 2018 press breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Holder revealed NDRC’s goal of targeting 12 Republican “trifectas”—states where Republicans control both chambers of the legislature as well as the governorship. 
As of April 2018, NDRC’s targets, including both Republican “trifecta” states and others, included: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. 
State Ballot Initiatives
NDRC also targets state ballot initiatives that affect redistricting rules. According to NDRC’s website, its 2018 ballot initiative targets include initiatives (and potential initiatives) in Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah.
These initiatives are often organized by liberal groups friendly to NDRC. Fair Districts PA, for example, is a Pennsylvania arm of the left-leaning League of Women Voters, and played a key role in litigating a court decision that tossed out the state’s 2011 congressional map.  The group plans to introduce a ballot referendum modifying the state constitution to implement a “citizens’ commission” that would potentially favor Democrats over Republicans in future elections. 
The NDRC targets Republican state elected officials for lawsuits accusing them of illegally gerrymandering districts under the Voting Rights Act and related legislation. Two of these lawsuits, in Georgia and Wisconsin, were initiated by its sister organization, the National Redistricting Foundation. 
On October 23, 2017, NDRC announced it was forming a partnership with Organizing for Action (OFA) to pursue legislative redistricting to aid Democrats.  OFA is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit formed in 2013 as a lineal descendant of Barack Obama’s campaign committees, with which OFA shares initials. The group is run almost exclusively by Obama campaign alumni, and it maintains a close connection to the anti-Trump group Indivisible. 
In an email obtained by Politico in October 2017, Obama wrote to recipients: “OFA volunteers and supporters will provide the grassroots organizing capacity and mobilization that we’ll need to win state-level elections and move other initiatives forward ahead of the 2021 redistricting process, making sure that states are in the best position to draw fair maps.”
On December 20, 2018, the Atlantic wrote that, according to Barack Obama, Organizing for Action would be folded into the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. Obama said that the merger would create a “joint force that is focused on this issue of singular importance” (redistricting). 
NDRC is also listed as a partner of America Votes, a left-of-center progressive campaign coordination group created in 2003 by officials from the Clinton administration, Service Employees International Union, and Sierra Club. 
NDRC has reportedly planned to triple its staff in 2019 to 30 members by merging with volunteers from Organizing for America (OFA), a left-wing activist group born out of the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama.  Amanda Litman, executive director of the Democratic-aligned PAC Run for Something, is reportedly allied with NDRC in its shared goal of recruiting Democratic Party candidates to run in 12 states that NDRC founder Eric Holder will be targeting in the 2020 general election. 
Political Campaign Activities
2018 Midterm Election
In 2018, NDRC started targeting suburban areas with the aim of flipping 230 Republican-controlled state legislative seats, claiming demographic changes in those areas would aid Democrats. 
NDRC claimed it raised $35 million during the 2018 midterm cycle.  During the election, Eric Holder focused primarily on the districts of Wisconsin and its state supreme court. He advocated the election of Rebecca Dallet to the Wisconsin Supreme Court by granting $500,000 to her campaign.  Holder also endorsed left-wing judge Lisa Neubauer for another spot on the state court with a $350,000 grant.  Holder contributed funds to Black Leaders Organizing Committees (BLOC) to canvass for Dallet in Milwaukee and then-gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers.
According to its 2017 end of the year report, NDRC claims it spent $1.2 million to support the election of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) in 2017. The report notes that Northam will be the first Democratic governor in the state to hold “veto power over the redistricting process” ahead of the 2020 census since 1991. NDRC also claims it spent $50,000 in defending three Democratic Nevada state senators in a failed recall effort. 
The NDRC has two “sister” nonprofit affiliates that perform lobbying and litigation activity. All three organizations share overlapping leadership and the same Washington, D.C. office space. 
National Redistricting Foundation
Also see National Redistricting Foundation (Nonprofit)
The National Redistricting Foundation (NRF) is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of NDRC. The nonprofit was created to litigate Republican state elected officials for alleged Voting Rights Act infractions and what it deems illegal “gerrymandering” of state legislative and congressional districts.
National Redistricting Action Fund
Also see National Redistricting Action Fund (Nonprofit)
Criticism of Donald Trump
As attorney general for the Obama administration, Eric Holder was criticized for his involvement in numerous government scandals, some of which related to his partisan political views on issues like gun control. 
In his capacity as NDRC chair, Eric Holder has been critical of President Donald Trump and the Trump administration, calling the President the “orange man.” He has also insinuated that some conservatives in the Trump era harbor neo-Nazis, saying:
“The election of Barack Obama did not magically transform us as a people and eradicate bigotry, eradicate neo-Nazis and, you know, white nationalists. They were still there, but they didn’t feel empowered in the way that I think they do now,” Holder said. “Is this a different America? I think we’re going to know on the basis of the election we see here in Virginia in 2017, what happens in the midterms in 2018, and ultimately, what happens in 2020.” 
On March 27, 2018, NDRC released a statement criticizing the U.S. Commerce Department’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, calling it “a direct attack on our representative democracy” that will lead to “decade-long impacts on voting rights and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funding.” 
NDRC is operated by staff with backgrounds in Democratic Party politics.
Officers and Board of Directors
Kelly Ward is NDRC executive director and PAC treasurer. Ward previously served as first political director and then executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).  Ward is also president and chief executive officer of the National Redistricting Foundation. 
Elisabeth Pearson is NDRC president and serves on the board of directors for the National Redistricting Foundation.  From 2013 to December 2018, Pearson served as executive director of the Democratic Governors Association; prior to that she was campaign director of the DGA and has also served as political director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).  
Alixandria “Ali” Lapp serves as NDRC vice president. Lapp is also founder and president of the Democratic Party-aligned House Majority PAC, and served as a political consultant to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in the 2008 election. 
Jessica Post is a member of the NDRC board of directors. Post is executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), and is a former staffer for disgraced Sen. Al Franken and a former political director for the left-wing PAC EMILY’s List.  
Former Congressman and failed Michigan gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer served as senior advisor to the NDRC from August 2016 to May 2017. Schauer served as director of Advantage 2020, a hybrid PAC created in 2015 to support Democratic majorities in state legislatures by 2020. Advantage 2020 was terminated in June 2016.   Schauer also served as co-chair of the Job 21! campaign of the BlueGreen Alliance, a partnership between labor unions and environmentalist groups. 
Edward Tortorici is a professional management consultant and advisor to the NDRC board. 
John Bisognano is director of campaigns and state engagement for NDRC. Bisognano previously served as coordinated campaign director for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, associate director of public engagement for the Obama White House, and executive director for the Association of State Democratic Chairs for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). 
Marina Jenkins is litigation director for both the NDRC and the National Redistricting Foundation. She previously worked as a private attorney involved in election law and redistricting public policy firms. Jenkins also briefly served as a pro bono fellow for the Advancement Project, a group created in 1999 by left-leaning lawyers to oppose voter identification laws. 
José Morales is director of special projects for NDRC. Prior to that, Morales worked as an assistant to Kelly Ward during her tenure as executive director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 
Patrick Rodenbush is communications director for NDRC. Rodenbush previously served as assistant press secretary for the Obama administration, and in similar public affairs and communications roles for the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Democratic National Committee. 
Hayley Dierker is chief of staff at NDRC. Dierker previously served in advisory and operations roles to the chair of the DCCC, and for Democratic members of Congress. 
2018 Midterm Election
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, as of March 2018 the NDRC had raised $1.16 million during the 2018 midterm election cycle and spent just under $350,000 on administrative and fundraising fees, mainly to the fundraising platform ActBlue, which serves left-wing nonprofits and PACs, and the law firm Perkins Coie. 
The Center for Responsive Politics reports that NDRC’s 2018 contributors as of March 31, 2018 included the American Federation of Government Employees, a labor union which gave NDRC $100,000; the Amalgamated Transit Union, a labor union which gave it $5,000; and End Citizens United, a Democratic PAC that gave NDRC $5,000. 
The NDRC reports that it raised more than $11 million for NDRC, the National Redistricting Action Fund, and the National Redistricting Foundation in 2017, the year the groups were created.  According to the Washington Post, donors included Democratic Party “mega-donors” like Fred Eychaner, Donald Sussman, Jon Stryker, and Martha Samuelson, as well as film director J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath.