In the current edition of the Richmond Free Press, there’s an article entitled, “Congressman Scott’s district safe, but he continues to push for fair representation.” As I read it, I was amazed at the level of heat, vitriol, division, even anger, between the House and Senate black caucuses. Here’s a sampling:
In a surprise move, six members of the Legislative Black Caucus broke ranks with Rep. Scott and fellow Democrats to support the House plan as the best option.
Hampton Sen. Mamie Locke, the Caucus chair, blasted those members in a strongly worded statement.
“Well over 300 years ago, slave owner William ‘Willie’ Lynch devised a plan through which he assured Virginia slave owners that if they adopted his practices, slaves/black people could be controlled for centuries,” Sen. Locke declared after the House vote.
“It seems that this prediction is alive and well in the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus in 2012,” she continued.
Norfolk Delegate Kenneth C. Alexander, former Caucus chairman and one of the six, called that criticism “over the top” and unwarranted. Among the 21 Democrats who voted against the House plan were seven members of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Among them was Richmond Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan, who passionately argued against the plan on the House floor. On Monday, she told the
Free Press that she opposed the plan because “it packs too many African-Americans into the 3rd District, diluting their voting strength in the other congressional districts.”
The full House vote is here. As you can see, the black caucus was deeply split, even within the House, let alone between the House and Senate.
With regard to the Senate, the Free Press notes Sen. McEachin and three other black senators, L. Louise Lucas of Portsmouth. Henry L. Marsh III of Richmond and Yvonne B. Miller of Norfolk, are committed to opposing the House plan.” I asked Del. McEachin for further comment, and I received the following statement:
I am disappointed that any of my Democratic colleagues in the House could vote for a plan which fails to meet the constitutional requirement of being completed in 2011, and which packs minority voters into one district, diluting their influence. We had an opportunity here to stand up for our values and our principles and, unfortunately, some of my colleagues made other choices and decisions.
Ouch. For the record, I’m strongly with Senators McEachin, Locke, Lucas, Marsh, and Miller on this one. Also, I’m fascinated with the vehemence of Senator Locke’s opposition, and would love to hear more of her thoughts, fleshed out, on what exactly she’s getting at. I’d also love to have Del. Ware explain exactly how it is, in a state with a nearly 20% African American population, that there aren’t enough African Americans to support two “majority minority” districts, out of 11 districts (2/11=18%). Finally, I’d be very curious to hear more from “[t]he three other Caucus members who voted for the House bill, Norfolk Delegate Algie T. Howell Jr., Chesapeake Delegate Lionell Spruill
Sr. and Dumfries Delegate Luke E. Torian,” who so far have “declined comment on their votes.” C’mon, guys, let’s hear what you’ve got to say on this; we’re all ears! 🙂
P.S. While it’s not surprising that the pathetic excuse for a delegate, Lionell Spruill, voted the way he did on this, it’s outrageous that this guy’s on the Democratic National Committee. Get him off of there now!