Now that Dick Saslaw has executed his preordained cave-in to the governor who dared to use his veto pen following the GOP in the House of Delegates snookering the Dems there into a “bipartisan” vote on their redistricting plan, those of us in Roanoke still don’t know where we will land in congressional redistricting. As expected, the Republicans in the House of Delegates want to keep Roanoke, a Democratic stronghold of 97,000 people, in the 6th District, which is the reddest of Virginia’s red districts. That way, Augusta and Rockingham counties can continue to more than offset Roanoke’s votes.
The State Senate’s original congressional plan put the city of Roanoke in the 9th District. I’m sure the rationale there is that the 9th District is far more likely to flip than the 6th, assuming that the Democrats can field a strong candidate against Morgan Griffith, whose home under both proposed plans is finally in the district he represents in Congress. The dilemma for Roanokers is this: Do we have more in common with the Shenandoah Valley or with the New River Valley, with Harrisonburg or with Blacksburg?
Republicans wanted to be sure to put Griffith’s home base of Salem in the 9th. Democrats evidently decided they would go along with that but, in return, also give Mrogan an area guaranteed to vote Democratic in 2012. According to the Roanoke Times, in 2008 President Obama carried Roanoke by 9,540 votes. In contrast, Griffith carried the entire 9th in 2010 by 8,963 votes.
So, where does the orphaned Roanoke belong? I would opt for the 9th. However, there are those who say, “But, we have nothing in common with Gate City, Wise, or Bristol.” Well, who does? Don’t those folks actually have more in common with east Kentucky and east Tennessee than with Roanoke? For years, Roanoke has sold itself as the city of Southwest Virginia. Putting us in the 9th simply validates that truism.