Special redistribution experts working for the Virginia Supreme Court have submitted redesigned federal and state legislative districts.
New cards for the U.S. House of Representatives, House of Delegates, and state Senate are undergoing public review ahead of the court’s public hearings on December 15 and 17. The court will review the comments and approve the new cards by December 15. 19.
Lawmakers and others rushed to consider the proposed cards on Thursday.
Conversations with some of them show that the efforts of Special Masters Sean P. Trende and Bernard N. Grofman have met the expectations of drawn maps with communities in mind, not politicians.
âIt’s getting pretty close to being fair,â Del said. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg.
A key principle that the masters kept in mind was the idea of ââ”communities of interest” in which the actual groupings of voters around linked towns, villages and counties carried more weight than drawing districts. oddly shaped designed to maintain the political status quo.
“We carefully designed districts that met constitutional and regulatory population requirements,” wrote Trende and Grofman in their summary released on December 8. ) to the extent possible. “
This, said Liz White, director of OneVirginia2021, a nonprofit that has done everything possible to get the redistribution out of the hands of the majority party in the General Assembly, is “an important part of the national redistribution movement.”
âAt first glance, they seem fair within the framework of a partisan balance,â White said. “It’s great that they are coming out so early to give the audience a chance to watch them.”
Findings from early card reviews tended to show that cards tended to favor Democrats more than Republicans, as they are concentrated around natural social centers, such as cities.
The proposed redesign of the 7e The Congressional District, however, was immediately controversial as Special Masters recommended that the entire district be moved further north to include the rapidly diversifying and increasingly democratic counties of Stafford and Prince Williams.
The current 7e The district would be split between the 5th and 1st Districts of Congress, seats now held by Republicans Bob Good and Rob Wittman.
The loser in the plans appears to be U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger, D-Henrico, a promising politician who has gained national attention and has been a major GOP target. She had planned to run for a third term, but if she wants to do so now, she will have to run elsewhere.
Possibilities include racing in the 1st District and facing Wittman, who would be a serious contender or the new 7e District, which is 50 miles from his home in Henrico County.
“This is bad news for Spanberger but good news overall for Democrats,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington.
White, of OneVirginia2021, said that “it’s not the job of special masters to protect anyone.” Spanberger’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Of the. Sally Hudson, D-Charlottesville, gave a positive assessment of the new proposal 57e district that it currently represents. The map places Charlottesville squarely in the center of the neighborhood with the suburbs sprawling out “like a donut,” she said. âIt’s natural. Voters can work in the city and live, shop and gamble just outside. Several Republican lawmakers have not responded to requests for comment on the new cards. Garren Shipley, spokesperson GOP’s new House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, said, âWe have a general policy without comment on the redistribution.
After the public hearings and the final decision of the Supreme Court, the new maps will be drawn up. There will be no legislative or governor’s review, White says.
Reshuffling the cards has long been a controversial process, as the party in charge of the General Assembly has generally been successful in creating new cards that kept its people in power.
Fed up, voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2020 calling for a 16-member redistribution commission made up of eight citizens appointed by lawmakers and eight lawmakers.
The commission, however, was crippled by partisanship and acrimony, failing to agree on a single deck of cards.