Here’s some reaction on the recently released plans for Virginia redistricting.
1. Redistricting: 151 Proof: The Richmond Times Dispatch editorial board writes, “Opinion on the question of how to go about drawing the lines is sharply split. On one side stands the great mass of general opinion, the state’s newspapers and pundits, civic groups, think tanks, academia, public spirit and right reason. On the other stand the 140 members of the Assembly and the 11 members of the state’s congressional delegation. It’s not even a close fight.”
2. Virginia redistricting plan sausage making continues: The Roanoke Free Press writes, “The hearing at Roanoke’s Higher Education Center held about 50 people Thursday evening. Sixteen people spoke. All were unanimous in their disapproval of the plan.”
3. Despite push for openness, Va. redistricting still secretive: DPVA spokesman Brian Coy says, “If the governor’s stated commitment to bipartisan redistricting was anything more than an empty political promise, he will fight to ensure that his commission’s recommendation is reflected in the final plan.”
4. The House Democratic Caucus writes, “That’s right folks; the Governor will not be listening to the recommendations made by his own Bi-partisan Redistricting Commission. Unbelievable!”
5. Public decries Virginia redistricting plans at Roanoke meeting: “Speaker after speaker during a Roanoke meeting of the General Assembly’s Committee on Privileges and Elections complained that both House and Senate proposals split precincts, carved up communities of interest and generally redrew districts in a confusing manner.”
6. Redistricting plan lambasted at Hampton forum: “Disgraceful. Vindictive. Mean-spirited. An abomination. Insulting and possibly illegal.Those were a few of the words hurled at a group of state lawmakers Thursday night by some 30 Hampton Roads residents stirred to anger by proposed new boundary lines for state legislative districts.”
7. Williamsburg tea partiers upset with Norment’s new district, plan for public hearings…: “Williamsburg tea partiers are working to rally supporters to head to the General Assembly public hearing at Hampton University to complain about the new extended district Senate Democrats designed for Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. “Tommy” Norment.”
8. Here on Blue Virginia, we’ve had a lively debate, kicked off by former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot the other day. Some people vociferously defended Dick Saslaw et al’s redistricting plans, while others lambasted them. Currently, the Blue Virginia poll has 50% “not pleased with either map,” 22% “very angry,” 9% “lukewarm,” and 16% who “love the Senate map, hate the House map.” That’s 72% unhappy with both maps, ZERO who like both maps, and 16% who like the Senate map but not the House map.
9. In other comments, it appears that several insiders – Sean Holihan (who works for Sen. George Barker, a major player in drawing up the Senate redistricting plan) and Democratic political strategist Shayna Englin are among the vociferous defenders of the redistricting plan(s). According to Englin, critics of the politicians’ redistricting plans are not “focusing on winning” but are engaging in “self-righteous handwringing & naval [sic] gazing.” Englin adds, sarcastically, “Because what matters more than pretty districts? Obviously not choice, education, the environment, health care, justice, housing, equality, tax reform, or any of the other myriad things the Dem Senate has largely (if not perfectly) been the bulwark for.” Englin “retweets” a comment stating wondering “if VA Dems think anyone outside the beltway & Richmond cares about gerrymandered districts.” Actually, as the articles cited above make clear, the discontent appears to be in the House Democratic Caucus and DPVA, Roanoke, Hampton Roads, Richmond, pretty much all over the Commonwealth. Finally, Englin writes, “Lessons (re)learned in VA redistricting: GOP is way more gangster than DEMs.” Hmmmm.
10. Finally, Sean Holihan – who I hear was heavily involved in drawing up the Senate districts – adds (also sarcastically), “I know, I know….I should be calling for Dems to curl into a ball and run in the same districts we have now so then Republicans can laugh at us, still deny us bipartisan redistricting and keep us in 15 very nice looking Democratic seats.”
Fascinating, isn’t it? The vast majority of regular people are not happy with these gerrymandered, “incumbent protection” plans. In addition, House Democrats and even the DPVA spokesman have lambasted Bob McDonnell for abandoning bipartisan redistricting. On the other side are, as a friend of mine put it, “A bunch of ‘Company Men’ doing their best to make s*** look like sugar with condescending blind item insults. Classy.”