Del. Patrick Hope vs. Del. David Englin on House Redistricting Vote


    It’s been fascinating to watch as two strong, dedicated progressives – Del. Patrick Hope and Del. David Englin – debate the House of Delegates 87-10 vote yesterday in favor of the Republican gerrymandering redistricting plan. Personally, I can’t understand why any Democrat would have voted for this plan, for two main reasons: 1) Republicans could have passed this with zero Democratic support, which means that Democrats had a completely free pass to vote “no” if they wanted to; and 2) Democrats certainly could have, and should have, used this as an opportunity to express their displeasure with the anti-democratic gerrymandering process, as well as with the fact that Republicans are de facto locking in their control of the House of Delegates for the next decade (in spite of the fact that Barack Obama carried 55 House of Delegates districts in 2008).

    In the end, the only “nay” votes against this plan were Robin Abbott (D), Ward Armstrong (D), William Barlow (D), Adam Ebbin (D), Patrick Hope (D), Paula Miller (D), Joe Morrissey (D), Ken Plum (D), Jim Shuler (D), and David Toscano (D). Among those voting “aye” were several progressive Democrats, including – perhaps most surprisingly – David Englin of Alexandria.  Cue the debate between Delegates Hope and Englin. Del. Hope kicks it off:

    …spoke against the House redistricting plan that racially dilutes minorities an equal opportunity to participate in the district’s political process. Political equality demands more than a mere mathematical compliance with the “one person, one vote” standard. Election districting schemes must ensure each voter an equally effective voice in the political process. This plan fails that standard.


    Del. Englin then responds:

    Now now, Patrick…before your throw the rest of us under the bus…as you know, the objective, empirical analyses of the plan do not support your assertions about minority dilution. I’m a staunch advocate of nonpartisan redistricting reform, but that’s not the law, and this was the fairest plan we could have hoped for from the existing partisan process. It pains me to admit it, but we both know that they treated us WAY better than we would have treated them under a partisan process.

    PS – I still love you and think you should man up and run for the Senate!


    Hope retorts:

    The argument in favor is that it could have been worse is about the weakest one I’ve heard.

    Englin retorts to the retort:

    That’s not the argument. The argument is that this was objectively better than the alternatives, such as the nonpartisan winning student plans that packed minorities into fewer districts, diminishing their voting power, and allowed as much as a 9% variance, giving more power to some districts over others.

    And finally, Patrick Hope lands this zinger:

    Thankfully, the Voting Rights Act and DOJ have a higher standard than “was it better than the alternatives.”

    Also chiming in on Facebook were several others, all in support of Del. Hope’s position. That includes yours truly, who added the following:

    By the way, I hear that the corrupt bigot Lionel Spruill put on quite a show in support of the Republican’ redistricting monstrosity on the floor of the House. I’m told it was so pathetic, even the Republicans were talking about it, basically laughing at us for having someone so disloyal in sucha high position. Of course, Spruill is Randy Forbes BFF, so what else would we expect. The only question is, why in h*** is he on the DNC? I hope Debbi Wasserman Schultz will do something about this egregious situation ASAP.

    So, who do you side with? Patrick Hope? David Englin? Lionel Spruill? Other? Feel free to discuss in the comments section! Thanks.

    • Peter Rousselot

      Democrats in both chambers should be voting against both the House GOP plan and the Senate Dems plan for the same reasons: blatant political gerrymandering in both cases. Time may be needed to agree to the best non partisan plan. To allow for thoughtful consideration, it is much better for all candidates to run in their old districts this year and in their new nonpartisan districts next year. I support Hope’s position on this vote, and believe Englin made a serious error of principle.

    • englin

      I love Patrick, be he’s objectively wrong about the plan.  All of the empirical evidence we’ve seen demonstrates that it meets the standards of the Voting Rights Act, etc.  But why let facts get in the way of a good circular firing squad?

    • englin

      Peter – You’re sorely mistaken if you think next year the districts would somehow, magically be nonpartisan.  President Obama’s coattails are the best argument for Democrats to try to force people to run in their current districts this year and then new districts next year.  Of course, that would be rather partisan, wouldn’t it?

    • A knowledgeable Virginia Democrat just emailed me this possibility:

      Don’t you think this is part of a Republican strategy to get the House Dems to throw the Senate Dems under the bus to save their own hides?  If the House Republicans can make almost every Democrat safe, then there will be virtually no money going into House races, leaving the focus for ALL House Republicans to focus on flipping the Senate – equaling complete Republican control of Virginia.  This means that the selfish and shortsighted House democrats just sealed the deal for Republican control for less competitive elections.  

      Boy, I sure hope this is wrong.

    • “We must change the way our legislative districts are drawn in Virginia,” said Del. Brian Moran (D-46), the Democrat’s caucus chair.

      By allowing the party in power to establish political boundaries, fewer races are competitive, which suppresses voter turnout, Moran said.

      Moreover, he said, because lawmakers are in single-party districts, they have an incentive to be especially conservative or especially liberal. Legislators must play to their base, Moran said, because the only competition they are likely to face is from within their own party during primaries.

      By pushing lawmakers to the extremes of their party – both Republican and Democrat – redistricting has indirectly fueled the bitter partisanship of the General Assembly, Moran said.

      With a nonpartisan redistricting system that created more competitive districts, a greater number of Virginia voters would have a voice in how they are governed, Moran said.

      Wednesday, October 12, 2005


    • From NLS:

      Another question from NLS.  Joe asks: “As the other two candidates running for the Democratic nomination have already explicitly stated their support for bipartisan or nonpartisan redistricting, what is your stance? Would you be willing to veto any proposed redistricting maps that are obviously gerrymandered, even if in favor of the Democrats?”

      Terry said “Yes would veto them.  Independent commissions should be drawing these lines.  Competition is good- it is why I like primaries.  Competition keeps you on your toes.”  Terry also added   “That’s why they (Republicans) want the Governors office” (i.e. to redistrict the Democrats into oblivion again).

    • FreeDem

      I just finished a diary on this very topic:

      I particularly focus on the support for the plan from Lionell Spruill, who seems to be in some sort of corrupt bargain with Republican Chris Jones so they both can benefit from screwing over Virgina’s minority community.

      David Englin is way out of line on this, putting up only the student’s nonpartisan redistricting plans as the alternative. He seems to overlook that the competition had two categories, one specifically encouraging the students to draw more competitive districts, sometimes at the expense of being compact. Not to mention that they were plans put together by a bunch of college students! Is that the best he can come up with? That the GOP gerrymandering is better than what a bunch of kids put together?


    • Anonymous

      for the Republican plan?  Did I get the math right?  I hope someone will correct me.

    • The Democratic Party of Virginia has long supported the concept of bipartisan redistricting.  See, e.g., 2008 platform,… at 7.  The problem is that Gov McDonnell scheduled his Commission process so its final report came way too late to have any meaningful impact.  

    • FreeDem

      Watkins Abbitt voted for the plan. Robin Abbott voted against.

      I know the General Assembly specifics the first and middle initial for names that are identical (Like Danny and Bob Marshall), but it’s interesting that they don’t do this for names that are very, very similar. If you look at Congress you’ll find they specify the state for names that are not only the exact same (like multiple members with the last name Johnson) but ones that sound similar (like Bradley and Braley, Griffith and Griffin, even Poe and Roe). The General Assembly should do the same.

    • cragghines

      It’s bad enough that Senate Democrats will have to vote for the plan ordained by King Richard and Princess Janet. There was no reason for accommodationist Democrats in the House of Delegates to vote for the Republican abomination. Talk about manning up.

    • gg2landy

      Not only do we have 2 HOD reps ( if the House plan is approved). Both Delegates ( Scott Garrett and Kathy Byron) are in the pocket of Jerry Falwell Jr. Byron will be the HOD rep for the predominately African American Ward II in the city and the most historic part of the city as well. Everyone ( Senate Dems and the House) has written off Lynchburg as a Republican stronghold even though Warner,Kaine and Valentine carried the city and the city council is mostly Dem. Thanks for nothing!