Virginia Redistricting Commission consultants told to compromise on Congressional maps
Virginia’s bipartisan Redistricting Commission put work on House of Delegates and state Senate districts behind it Thursday and moved on to redrawing congressional district boundaries.
In taking up the state’s 11 U.S. House boundaries, the bipartisan commission punted on its duty to remap state legislative districts to the Virginia Supreme Court.
Without comment on partisan rifts that scuttled their work on the 40 state Senate districts and 100 House of Delegates seats, commissioners got their first glimpse of tentative competing congressional drafts from Democratic and Republican consultants advising the panel. And within minutes, partisan differences emerged anew alongside related concerns about geography, demography and topography.
Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, one of eight state legislators (four from each party) on the evenly split 16-member panel, questioned a proposal from GOP consultants that grafts a small sliver of an affluent Henrico County suburb bounding the James River west of Richmond onto the massive 5th Congressional District, which elected U.S. Rep. Bob Good, R-Campbell, last year.
“The thing that sort of stands out … is you take out a little bit of Henrico County (and) put it all the way in with Southside,” Simon said. “That is what starts to feel like a gerrymander to the extent that its cracking suburbs that were trending blue.
“I can’t imagine someone in Henrico feels like they have any congressional representation under that map; that they have anything in common with District 5″ he said. “For all the folks on public comment who says we need to put our differences behind us, this is the kind of a move that makes me feel a little suspicious of where these lines really go.”
Another Democratic legislative member of the panel, Sen. George Barker of Fairfax, voiced a similar concern, noting that the 5th district pushes significantly into another increasingly Democratic Richmond suburb, Chesterfield County. Large parts of neighboring Henrico and Chesterfield are currently part of the 7th District, which is represented by Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.
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