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Former Arlington County Democratic Chair: Saslaw/Whipple Redistricting Plan "should be repudiated"

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 09:00:00 AM EDT


The following is a guest post from 2-term Arlington County Democratic Committee chair Peter Rousselot. In addition, Peter ran for DPVA Chair last year, although unfortunately he was not victorious. Anyway, thanks to Peter for his thoughts on the Democratic Senate redistricting plan. Let's hope this kicks off a much-needed discussion!

The Saslaw/Whipple Senate Democratic Caucus redistricting plan should be repudiated. You can check out their plan here.

The Saslaw/Whipple plan should be repudiated because it is the product of top down, hierarchical, dictatorial planning designed to protect individual incumbent Democratic Senators behind a supposed "firewall" to preserve a Democratic majority in the Virginia State Senate. This "planning" is bad policy and bad politics. The general public and editorial writers across the Commonwealth have the common sense to realize that this process is decidedly un-democratic.

Has the Republican majority in the House of Delegates done any better? Of course not! Their re-districting plan for the House of Delegates is just as bad or worse. So what? As Democrats, why should we join them in a race to the bottom? Why not strive for something better--and more effective too? Instead, we are cringing while our supposed Democratic leaders are bragging about being just as, or more devious than, Virginia Republicans.

What's wrong with this picture?

lowkell :: Former Arlington County Democratic Chair: Saslaw/Whipple Redistricting Plan "should be repudiated"
The Senate Democratic Caucus plan was developed based on a long standing, but fundamentally flawed, perception of the right way to maximize the chances to elect as many Democrats as possible in Virginia. There is no question that one core mission of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) is to elect as many Democrats as possible in every general election.

However, DPVA ought to have no stake whatsoever in insuring (in between general elections) that any particular incumbent Democratic elected official gets to keep his or her current job. Instead, Democratic leaders ought to be working 24/7/365 to strengthen the grassroots of the Democratic Party so that any Democrat's chances to win anywhere and everywhere are maximized. If incumbent Democratic elected officials want to retain the support of the Democratic grass roots, they should keep doing things to earn that support. If they do, they will richly deserve re-election.

What should be done now?

The Senate Democratic Caucus leadership loudly argues that we all have to hurry up and approve its respective incumbent protection plan. There's no time to waste, they'll say, because the necessary DOJ review of their plan will be time-consuming, and we have to get all this done in time for the August 23 primary date.

Don't be fooled by their scare tactics. There is plenty of time to scrap both the Senate Democratic Caucus plan and the House Republican caucus plan, and instead to adopt one of the non-partisan re-districting plans developed by Virginia's college and university students.

And you know what? If our legislators need more time to hold hearings in order to consider and adopt one of these non-partisan re-districting plans, there is an easy way for them to do it: all our Democratic incumbents and candidates can run in the current districts in 2011, and then in the new districts in 2012. Virginians have done this before in 1981 and 1982, and we can do it again.

Our new district boundaries have to last for ten years. How do you want to spend those ten years: living in hyper-partisan-drawn districts or living in districts drawn with the public's welfare uppermost in mind? Wouldn't it be worth one extra year of waiting in order to get the best result for the next 10 years?

How can you help?

Contact your State Senator and let tell her/him how you feel about this situation. Also, go to one of the few public forums which have been scheduled about these plans, and tell the Virginia Legislature to go back to the drawing board and start over. You can see a list of these public forums here.

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I agree! We should press for (4.00 / 1)
adoption of one of the College plans and/or look at the Governor's Bi-partisan Commission's plan.  What has been offered up by our elected leaders is ridiculous!

Bravo (4.00 / 1)
These district lines are indefensible.  Kudos to Peter for speaking out.

Here's the thing (0.00 / 0)
Due to the way Democratic voters are clustered into urban areas while Republican voters are spread out, Democrats are at a natural disadvantage when it comes to drawing "clean" lines. Is it democratic to have compact districts that will only elect 15 or 16 Democratic Senators when the state is split 50/50? Yes, the commission maps may look better, but they would be worse at representing the partisan balance of the state. It might give Democrats more seats in the House, but Democrats would probably be plunged into a permanent 55-45 minority in both chambers.

It's facile to say that "compact = better" when it would result in a bunch of 80-20 Democratic seats and 60-40 Republican seats. The only way you're going to get truly representative delegation is through a system of proportional representation, but unfortunately U.S. law would probably not allow that (due to "one man, one vote").  


What I know is that my rural county of 10,000 voters is being (4.00 / 1)
dissected into two House districts.  We normally vote for the Dem, but the House plan effectively splits our Dem votes into two Republican districts. From analysis by NotLarrySabato, the Republicans in the House have effectively arranged the House Districts so that they will claim as many as 72 seats...not even close to a 50/50 split.  I'd rather take my chances with one of the other plans than the nonsense that is being proposed by the House Republicans and the Senate Dems.

[ Parent ]
So once again (0.00 / 0)
A call to take the high road - and lose.  Will someone please tell Dems like this that we tried that route for 40 years and all it led to was losses.  Republicans don't give a crap about fairness.  They want control.  If you want to play nice when they aren't, you're going to end up losing. They're not going to change, in fact, they've been getting progressively worse over the last 40+ years.  They're not going to suddenly wake up and say "we've been morally and intellectual wrong for several generations and we're coming clean today".  They're not going to learn.  Every Republican who reads Peter's quote - "As Democrats, why should we join them in a race to the bottom? Why not strive for something better--and more effective too?" - smiled and laughed and said "now there's a wimpy Democrat for you".

The world is not Arlington.  You're not going to "be effective" anytime soon by throwing a little bit of money at newbie candidates out in the hinterlands and expecting them to win seats for Dems.  All the while, you keep a seat in Arlington that's 80% Democratic when just across the border there are precincts that lean Republican.  

I'm not in this for righteous indignation.  I don't feel better losing but "knowing I played fair".  Republicans will not accept a bi-partisan approach.  It's a non-starter.  

Here's a post I wrote on NLS last night.  I actually feel more strongly about it his morning:

"As for Ben's worries about Arlington and Alexandria become hotbeds of Republican activity, while I don't agree with the way they move around the 31st and 32nd, it does unpack the Democratic districts a little bit. The 30th gets redder - using VPAPs numbers, from a whopping 36.9% for Bob to a scary 41%. The 31st is even more of a move, from 34.7% to 44%. Still, fairly safe Dem districts and those numbers are the worst-case Deeds Disaster performance numbers for Republicans. The 30th and 31st aren't as massively blue as they were, but unlocking them helps out Mark Herring, George Barker, Dave Marsden.

I think Ben's just upset that Arlington is split 3 ways. Over on Blue Virginia there was a heated argument a few weeks ago where the Arlington guys were crying over the thought that Arlington and Alexandria may have to pitch in and help out the districts further out by taking on some Republican areas. Hey, it's called taking one for the team.

If an election comes and Arlington and Alexandria are either so apathetic no one votes or the vote Republican, the state will be lost cause already.

This will just mean that the Arlington and Alexandria committees will have to work hard on the state campaigns from now on. The districts are safe but no longer invincible and to be honest, Alexandria Dems need to get their act together. They were horrible with the C. Herring special election where they didn't even organize anything for the election, and they were lazy during those city elections where the Republicans only put two candidates on the ballot and only voted for those two and undervoted for the other seats. Next time, but exactly the number of Dems on the ballot for the number of seats and stop treating elections like guaranteed Democratic victories for all candidates."

So again, Peter and the Arlington crew are upset because they won't have complete control over Senate seat that is practically impossible for a Republican to ever win.  Now, they'll have to actually work with their neighbors in the suburbs to win those seats.  It's dumb politics for Dems to pack ourselves into 100% safe fortress districts that would number well under the 21 seats needed to control the Senate.  Especially when we really need 23 or 24, since we'll always have a rural Dem or two who will vote against us on issues like abortion or coal or guns or gays.  


Hear, hear! (4.00 / 1)
Politics are the are of the possible.  A more bi-partisan way of districting was possible, but the Republicans turned it down.  This is the best alternative available to us.  

A negotiation where only one side is willing to make concessions is really just a capitulation, and I don't want to see anymore Democratic capitulations to Republican intransigence.

The Richmonder


[ Parent ]
I disagree (4.00 / 2)
These districts are hideously long, reduce effective representation, do not respect jurisdictional boundaries, split contiguous communities, and to address your specific points will do very little to actually improve Democratic chances in the long run. We are better off with the districts we have.  

From an Arlington perspective, the 31st District is now anything but safe. It could be won by someone outside Arlington (as could the 30th), leaving the community with NO homegrown representation. Worse, a moderate Republican in the 31st could potentially take that district by winning Fairfax and farther flung precincts while capturing 40% of Arlington votes. The end result may well be that you marginalized Democratic chances even more.  

If you think the views of Peter and I are quixotic, look at what you have written. If you think we're all going to haul out and campaign in Landsdowne to hold the 31st, you are nuts. If you think all the affected Democratic Committees are are going to work together effectively, you haven't worked for a Democratic Committee.

If the party leadership want to maximize our chances of winning, start by recruiting candidates and developing a platform to move Virgina forward. Instead, they are doing the opposite. Why are some Democratic leaders working so hard to reduce the number of candidates in districts where we have an abundance of well-qualified people, when they could be spending their time doing something to recruit candidates and build the party where it is weak? Why, after a flurry of initial interest in the 31st, to give one example, is no one running?

I am core Democrat, but I am not in this simply to hold power. I'm in politics to advance my principles. I'm going to speak my mind whether it is on Libya, the debt, redistricting or any other issue. And I believe firmly that, as we have seen in the past, attempts to manipulate the districts rarely work out as expected.  

Ultimately, there is nothing weaker than Democrats who place power over principle. They stand for nothing and eventually the voters will turn them out just as surely.  


[ Parent ]
I think this is about more than Arlington. (0.00 / 0)
While Peter may have been the one to start the discussion, I agree that we should go with a plan other than what has been offered.  If we take the "parties" out of the equation, we would hopefully get districts that are compact and competitive.  Perhaps that is pie in the sky, but has anyone proven that the plans by the colleges don't create competitive districts?

[ Parent ]
Of course it's about more than Arlington (0.00 / 0)
I attended the bipartisan redistricting committee forum the other day at GMU, which last I checked, is in Fairfax not Arlington. :)  What I saw there was citizen after citizen, person after person, standing up and talking about several things:

1. They did NOT want redistricting to be done as "incumbent protection"
2. They did NOT want clear "communities of interest" split up, if at all possible.
3. They did NOT want "gerrymandering"
4. They did NOT want this to be done in a partisan way. Instead, they DID want a bipartisan or nonpartisan approach.
5. They did NOT want this done without input from the people.
6. In sum, they did NOT want elected officials choosing their voters, they wanted voters choosing their elected officials.

My guess is that if you polled on this, you'd get about 80%-90% support for each of these items. Anyone disagree with that? So how is this now about "Arlington?" You can argue that people in general are naive or wrong about what they want, but I'm not sure how you can argue that this isn't what people want, or that somehow they're happy with - to the extent they pay attention to it at all - the way political districts and candidates are selected in this country right now.

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[ Parent ]
It is definitely about more than Arlington (0.00 / 0)
I just haven't spent as much time on the maps in other portions of the state. But from what I have looked at these concerns are, or should be, widespread. I hope we start hearing from more folks on this.

[ Parent ]
It's about process in large part (0.00 / 0)
Note that there's wide support among voters across the country for bipartisan or (even better) nonpartisan redistricting (see PPP for instance. So of course people aren't going to be happy to see their wishes completely overridden by the politicians trying to gerrymander to maximize their party's electoral chances and to protect incumbents.  

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[ Parent ]
Albert Pollard (Northern Neck) Rips Senate Redistricting plan (0.00 / 0)
Gee, I could have sworn that Albert Pollard wasn't from Arlington. :)

POLLARD RELEASES STATEMENT ON REDISTRICTING PLAN

LANCASTER - Delegate Albert Pollard today released the following statement regarding the Senate redistricting plan:

"Breaking up the Northern Neck into multiple legislative or congressional districts is terrible public policy. I will vigorously fight the Senate redistricting plan and any other plan which splits our distinct community of interest."

Pollard further noted that the Boards of Supervisors for the counties of Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond and Westmoreland had all passed resolutions forwarded to the respective Privileges and Elections Committee chairs requesting that the Northern Neck remain together in legislative and congressional districts.



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[ Parent ]
And the plot thickens (0.00 / 0)
Go Albert!

[ Parent ]
Sit On it Albert (0.00 / 0)
Either you are for maintaing a Democratic Majority or Not.  You cut and ran on the House Caucus twice.  Yours is not a voice of leadership

[ Parent ]
And another thing (0.00 / 0)
Albert

Do you have anything to say about the House plan?


[ Parent ]
Great, your response is to attack (0.00 / 0)
Albert Pollard. That's it?!?

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[ Parent ]
Yep thats it (0.00 / 0)
I am satisfied with the Senate Plan.  Where is his plan?  A number of people here and other blogs are complaining but they dont have the challange of getting 22 people to sign off on a plan that enhances the chances of Dems holding the majority in the Senate.  I want to see another plan put forth that does that in a better way.  Until then, in my humble opinion, those who complain are full of sound and fury signifying nothing

[ Parent ]
One point though (0.00 / 0)
Compact and competitive sounds workable in the rural areas where you could base a seat on the City of Harrisonburg or Martinsville or wherever.  You would have a seat that encompasses the entire town/city/county, and Dems would probably do well there.  

However, in NoVA, compact actually means less competitive.  Arlington is about the exact size - 207,000 people - for a single Senate seat. Throw in Falls Church and Alexandria cities - with another 150,000 - with Fairfax precincts along Columbia Pike and Little River Turnpike and you have 2 compact districts - that are each about 80% Democratic.  15 miles away, you have districts that would be centered on areas that, while in Fairfax, would be almost 50/50.  So what have you done with compact districts?  You've created a few fortress districts and left a half-dozen others that are vulnerable.  

Unpacking some of those districts makes life harder for the local parties there, but it really helps the neighboring parties a little further out.


[ Parent ]
If compact and competitive is workable in rural areas, (0.00 / 0)
why has the new House map divided my county, splitting the Dem vote into two Republican House districts.  The plans presented have everything to do with Republicans in the House ensuring that they win for at least the next 10 years, and Dems in the Senate then trying to screw the Republicans in turn.  

We should all remember that we are Virginians first, and what is best for Virginia is what we should all want.  Gerrymandering and incumbent protection is not what is best for Virginia and that is what these plans are all about in my opinion.


[ Parent ]
Compact works (0.00 / 0)
for Dems in rural areas since you can create a critical mass of Dems - pack them in - and win a seat.  Republicans, in rural areas, always want to split Dems areas up to spread them out into areas that are otherwise extremely Republican.  In large Democratic areas, Dems need to unpack the Dems and spread them out - district wise - to as many districts as possible with the idea that you can make them 55% Dem and beat out the Republican areas.  Republicans want to pack in Dem areas to make them super Democratic and they won't effect the more Republican areas. In rural areas, the general rules are reversed and Dems want to pack to get critical mass while Republicans want to divide and conquer.

In your case, you're probably surrounded by a sea of Republican rural areas, so they can divide up your fairly small area of Democrats into two or more Republican-dominated districts.  Since Republicans drew the map for House districts, they chose divide and conquer for your area.


[ Parent ]
Actually, we are directly (0.00 / 0)
south of Albemarle and Charlottesville.

[ Parent ]
Are you in Nelson? (0.00 / 0)
I don't know that area well on the HoD side, will you end up in the 59th or 20th?  I have no real idea why they moved the 20th way over there. Toscano will now have Charlottesville and the immediate surrounding areas without the big gerrymander that's currently in place.  Most likely, you guys ended up getting cut up because the surround Republican districts needed to add 5k or so in population and you guys were in the middle.

[ Parent ]
Yes, I'm in Nelson. (0.00 / 0)
And we'll be split between the 20th and the 59th.  I've looked and Bell won in the 20th with 71% of the vote and of course, Watkins Abbitt had no competition.  We'll have no chance of electing a Dem in either of those districts, and if the Congressional district map is accepted, we'll have no chance of electing a Dem to Congress either.

[ Parent ]
But then again (0.00 / 0)
you didn't have a chance with the old HoD districts either.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps not...but we weren't split apart (0.00 / 0)
into two Republican districts which is demoralizing the Dems in the county who have worked very hard over the last few years.  After all Kerry won here by a mere 4 votes, while Obama won by 750 and Perriello won in Nelson in 2008 by over 1000 votes.  In 2010, Perriello won here again.  Perhaps I should think like this...The Repubs wanted to split us up because we've become too successful.  Is that it?  That will make us feel lots better.

[ Parent ]
Well (0.00 / 0)
think of it as you're a hard-assed 10k population. That said, I doubt if there was a conspiracy to thwart a Democratic stronghold by splitting Nelson up.

[ Parent ]
I really didn't think there was a (0.00 / 0)
conspiracy.  It was my lame attempt at being funny.

[ Parent ]
Completely Disagree (0.00 / 0)
I completely disagree with almost everything that NotJohnMosby has said, but I'll confine this comment to what NJM has said about his being tired of trying to play fair with the Republicans. The Saslaw/Whipple plan claims it's playing hardball, but it fails miserably to do so: http://notlarrysabato.typepad.... The Saslaw/Whipple plan depends for its success on a Devil's bargain with the VA House GOP leadership: if you'll vote for our plan, we'll vote for yours. Thus, Saslaw and Whipple have agreed to support and vote for a VA House GOP redistricting plan that guarantees Virginia Republicans a veto-proof majority in the HOD for a generation. And you call that "hardball"? Dick "the Hammer" Saslaw has not only hit his own thumb hard on this one, he has tried to hit all of our thumbs as well. I for one am not buying it.

[ Parent ]
Peter (0.00 / 0)
The Republicans are not going to draw a House plan that splits power 50/50.  Now, if we want to leverage the Howell plan to improve the Bell HoD plan a bit, that's fine, but we only have 39 seats right now.  The HoD isn't in play.  The Senate is, we have 22 seats but that's counting Colgan and Puckett, who are hanging on by a thread.  The Puckett district goes Republican the minute he steps down, so there really is no room for margin on the Senate side.  

Would I trade much of a chance of capturing the HoD the next 10 years to greatly increase the chances of Dems holding the Senate?  Absolutely, 100% I would, because we're barely in the majority in the Senate as is.  We need to expand it if possible, hold as is at 22 seats at worse.


[ Parent ]
Ditto (0.00 / 0)
NJSM is exactly right

[ Parent ]
@ NotJohnSMosby re: upcoming elections, etc. (0.00 / 0)
I'll have a longer post up on my diary page soon about elections, primaries, and the role of local committees, though if you happen to live in Alexandria, or want to touch base to talk strategy, etc. I'd love to hear from you. My email is scmercer@gmail.com In addition to our own races this fall, Alexandria and Arlington Committees have put together a joint effort to focus on 1-2 competitive/close Senate races outside our jurisdictions to help keep the Senate Democratic. I certainly think learning from past experiences is important, and I want to do that, with an eye towards building for the future. Also, towards that end, and I'll post something on this soon, the ADC is going to host a Candidates School starting Wed., April 27 and it will run the last Wed. of the month for 6 months for anyone- in Alexandria or not- that has even the slightest interest in running for office as a Democrat in the future. Got some good feedback and interest at the joint DPVA-OFA training at George Mason this past weekend from folks outside of Alexandria who plan to attend these trainings. At any rate, wanted to make sure that just because I (and others) don't post as often as others, that we're aren't listening and aren't trying to improve things.

-Clark Mercer

Chair, Alexandria Democratic Committee


Helping out is great (0.00 / 0)
And the best way to help out is to counter some Republican precincts in South Fairfax and PWC with strong Dem turnout in George Barker's new precincts in Alexandria.  Like I said, taking on some of the burden is the best way to help out, even if it means that Alexandria gets chopped up a bit.

The new plan looks weird.  It's radically different.  But, remember, the current setup was done by a Republican House and Senate and signed off by a Republican governor to pack as many Dems into the smallest number of districts as possible.  So we need weird and different to unpack those districts and to level the playing field on the Senate side.


[ Parent ]
If anyone wants to try their hand (4.00 / 1)
at showing what they think the map should look like, this makes it pretty easy: http://www.gardow.com/davebrad...

I don't think its perfect, but I don't think its terrible either.

Even though communities of interest, etc. might be laudable goals, that should be balanced against the risk of this state turning into another Wisconsin if Dems don't hold the Senate.

Also, did House Dems not even bother to create a plan?


Here's how I feel about all this (0.00 / 0)
I would much rather have everything done fairly rather than have this plan. Not only for the principles of it, but because the congressional map is more important to me than the state legislative map. What really sucks about this, IMO, is that we are trading control of the state senate for a congressional plan that pretty much guarantees an 8-3 split until Frank Wolf retires. A fair map might cost us the state senate, but it would result in at least four and easily five congressional seats for us. So if I could get these maps drawn by commission, that would be much preferable to this.

But the choice here is really not between having everything done fairly and this. My understanding of the law is that state legislative redistricting has to happen in 2011, but congressional redistricting can wait until after the 2011 elections. Republicans aren't going to agree to fair redistricting. So if Democrats try to kill this plan, what I see happening is that the state house and senate maps get drawn by the courts, which would mean that more likely than not we lose the senate in 2011. After that, the Republicans draw the congressional districts to lock in an 8-3 split. So we are left with an unfavorable congressional map and full McBollinelli control of Virginia's government. That's really the alternative. We can either keep the state senate and lose the state house and congress, or we can lose the state senate, the state house, and congress. The former clearly seems like the best option.


This is my conclusion as well (4.00 / 1)
And I reluctantly have accepted it.  I just don't think there is a way to make changes to the process in a way that both sides would find acceptable.  That says a lot about how badly the political process is right now, but I'm not sure that giving up the state senate improves upon that.

I am totally sympathetic as to why Arlington and even places like Nelson County (after living in C'ville, I came to love Nelson County) feeling as though they have been gutted.  It is demoralizing to build up a coalition of people and ideas and a disciplined party structure -- to do everything "right" by any standard -- and to see that sliced and diced for short term political advantage, even by your own side.  I would be angry too.

But please know how much your support and help is needed -- many districts will have a lot to learn from you, and I truly believe that Democratic ideals are the better of the two, and not even the most gerrymandered map can keep good Democrats from coming to the aid of their party.  Let's decide now that no matter what kind of hand we're dealt, we won't let Republicans have the last word when it comes to getting people to the voting booth this fall, next fall, and all of the Novembers for the next 10 years!


[ Parent ]
I'm now glad Rousselot is not party chair...... (3.00 / 2)
Democrats who complain about the state Senate Dem proposed map are stupid.

Not that there can't hypothetically be smart opposition to it, but the only smart opposition is if you can argue that an even better map for Dems can pass the legislature and McDonnell and pass DOJ muster.

But no Dem I've seen here or on NLS is arguing that.  Instead, it's nonsensical whining that the map protects Democratic incumbents or that the districts split up this or that county or community.

Good God, get over yourselves, this is war.  The state Senate is our only firewall against the Rethugs, and we have only a tenuous hold on it.  This map improves our odds of holding it.

I can't get over how myopic the blogosphere really is sometimes.

I do hope this map becomes reality.


Three points. (0.00 / 1)
1. Ad hominem attacks are not allowed on this site. You basically just called Peter Rousselot, who by the way is one of the smartest people I know, "stupid." Not cool.
2. You haven't offered any counter-argument except "this is war" and the Senate "is our only firewall against the Rethugs." Do you think that Peter Rousselot - or anyone else, for that matter - doesn't understand that?
3. Criticizing "the blogosphere" for the fact that it was used to transmit someone's opinion makes about as much sense as criticizing the telephone, the television, or any other communications technology for communicating peoples' opinions.  

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[ Parent ]
By the way, to the extent (0.00 / 0)
you're right about us being in a "war" with Republicans, how's the Virginia Democratic leadership been doing on that front the past couple years? Oh, that's right, they've been getting their butts kicked!  Yet you're advocating that we blindly follow them? No thanks.

P.S. Guess who Dick Saslaw endorsed in 2006? That's right, Harris Miller. 'Nuff said.

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[ Parent ]
I'm so sorry to have offended your sensibilities DCCyclone. (0.00 / 1)
If you don't like what we say on this blog, then don't participate.  You certainly aren't required to be here.    Wanting what is best for Virginia is not stupid. I have worked extremely hard to elect Democrats to every position possible.  I will continue to do so, but I'm not stupid, nor is Peter, for expecting better from the people we elect to represent us. If you don't understand that, then you are the one with issues.

[ Parent ]
I don't understand this (4.00 / 2)
Keeping Republicans from controlling the House, Senate and Governor's mansion is what is best for the state.  I don't see evidence that keeping amorphous communities of interest together would lead to more progressive legislation.  

I don't see how that is possible under the proposed maps by the students, which look even less favorable than the current map.  Democrats would probably win 16 or 17 seats.  The compactness requirement makes them all essentially pro-Republican gerrymanders. With complete control, I shudder to think what McDonnell will do.

I'm not saying that the Senate map is that great, it is simply the best map to keep a Democratic majority in the Senate, imperfect though it may be.  A better solution to that would be primaries, not different district lines, I think.


[ Parent ]
Best proposed map, not best map (0.00 / 0)
nt

[ Parent ]
I hereby apologize for my tone and choice of words...... (4.00 / 1)
You guys are right, I was wrong to use rhetoric like "stupid" and whatever else offends common sensibilities.

Regarding Lowell's point on a counterargument, I am upset because I don't see the complaints about the proposed map take into consideration the overriding priority of maximizing our seats in the state Senate.  There's so much high-mindedness self-destructiveness in the complaints here and on NLS.  The proposed map is about maximizing Democratic seats.  It does it well.  A Democrat who complains about it has an obligation first and foremost to offer an alternative map that maximizes our chances of winning at least as many seats as this map does.  I expect that especially from someone who is or wants to be in party leadership.  Absent that, state Senate Democrats should not honor any complaints.  When I say "this is war," I'm talking about the electoral reality that Republicans are going to do whatever it takes to win as many seats as possible, all the way to veto-proof majorities and then some.  I don't see their own supporters complaining about gerrymandered maps that help their party.  And that electoral reality ultimately dictates everything the state government does  between elections.

And when I refer to the blogosphere, I'm referring to what so far in my review of comments on liberal blogs--and I've read everything posted as of earlier today--has been the overwhelming sentiment, i.e., opposition to the map.

Do the Republicans even have to agree to legislative maps before November?...my understanding is that legally, no, that they can wait until afterward even if that means another election under new lines next year.  If my understanding is correct, they can stall; they believe they have a self-interest in getting this done now, but if Democrats make it hard for them, they can throw down the gauntlet and wait until after taking the state Senate under current lines this November.

Even if my understanding just above is incorrect, we have nothing to gain under a different map unless and until someone provides a map to prove otherwise.


[ Parent ]
Thanks for the apology (0.00 / 0)
and I think you make some valid points. Clearly, we need to hold the State Senate. Let me repeat that: we need to hold the State Senate! How to do that is the question, and whether we think the Saslaw/Barker/Howell map is our best shot at doing that. Also, there's the broader/longer-term question of how we draw districts in this country. Personally, I think it's completely FUBAR, corrosive to Democracy, etc. However, I'm pragmatic enough to realize that we need to play the game.  Doesn't mean I'm happy about it, but I'm also a political junkie and kind of enjoy the game. Weird, I know, not like "normal" people at all.

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[ Parent ]
And if we just agreed.... (0.00 / 0)
Democratic politics wouldn't be very fun!  :)

[ Parent ]
No politics would be. (0.00 / 0)
It wouldn't be a democracy either.

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[ Parent ]
I agree (4.00 / 1)
Kicking the Congressional redistricting to next year may actually lead to Connolly's district getting cut up and possibly losing it if the Dems can't hang onto a majority this year.  I'm confident they will, but why risk it?  Oh, and the little idea of having state elections this year and next? Even with Obama at the top of the ticket, I don't think any state delegate or senator wants to run 2-3 years in a row.  

From people in Fairfax and Loudoun I've spoken with today, everyone agrees the new map is very different, but most think it's good politics.  Who doesn't?  People in Arlington mostly, and some in Alexandria.  Dems in Fairfax are happy to see Barker get some deep blue precincts in Alexandria and for the 31st to run out and wipe out Dick Black and Caren Merrick - two presumptive Republican Senate candidates - in one shot.  The like that Marsden has a bit of breathing room, and that Herring has a fairly safe Dem district now.  

It's different and it looks weird compared to today's map, and to be honest it's more aggressive than I would have done, but it creates lots of thin but long districts, all the way from the Roosevelt Bridge, out west and south.  That benefits Dems in NoVA and around the state a lot more than a couple of 80% Dem districts close-in, a couple more safe Dem districts a little further out, and then some dicey 55-45 or worse districts out along and in the Loudoun and PWC borders.


[ Parent ]
Better Maps (2.00 / 2)
Your comment does not deserve a response for the reasons Lowell cited.  But I challenge you to compare the Saslaw plan to any of the student designed plans in the VA Redistricting Competition:

http://www.varedistrictingcomp...

To a one, these plans are better for VA Democrats. There are more competitive districts and the maps make a great deal more sense in terms of compactness and community contiguity. Saslaw's gerrymandering is so over the top that it actually fails its own test.  I do not believe it will hold the Senate, and in the long run will make Democrats less competitive.  

What's stupid is the Saslaw map.  It is bad public policy and bad political strategy.

The people should choose their leaders, not the other way around.  


[ Parent ]
Exactly. Even with all Saslaw's gerrymandering (0.00 / 1)
we're STILL likely to lose the State Senate. Then, we get the worst of all worlds: ridiculous, gerrymandered districts AND a Republican Senate AND a Republican House AND a Republican Governor AND we're screwed.

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[ Parent ]
Which seats would flip this year? (0.00 / 0)
Which of the current Dem seats would lose this year if the Howell plan passes?

[ Parent ]
How do you figure? (0.00 / 0)
Which Senators do you expect to lose under Saslaw's plan?

[ Parent ]
There are a number of vulnerable Dem Senators (0.00 / 0)
or potentially vulnerable Dem Senators: Colgan, Puckett, Miller, Northam, Houck, Reynolds, Herring, Howell, maybe the 31st district now.  So, let me throw it back to you: please explain how the lines Saslaw et al. drew make these people safer than the lines that the bipartisan commission might present (we don't even know what they might be), or a truly non-partisan commission, or the college students, or whatever? It's basically impossible, since we don't know what those lines would be, but it seems that the only argument here is: "We don't know what anyone else's lines might have been, but we're confident that Dick Saslaw's are the best." Why we'd trust Dick Saslaw per se, I have no idea.

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[ Parent ]
Okay I'll give it a go (0.00 / 0)
I agree with you that the plan isn't perfect -- frankly because the requirements of the VRA, Dem's hyper clustering in urban areas, and the format of voting in off-off year elections -- we're at a structural disadvantage. That being said, the plan is a significant improvement for all the Senators you mentioned.

At the start I should note that almost all of these improvements required intentional decisions that split counties in ways that a bi-partisan panel would not.

Colgan - One of the biggest improvements on the map. Trades exurban blood red parts of PW for majority-minority areas. Demographically trending in our direction and can now likely be held after he retires.

Puckett -- not much can be done for him at all because of where he's located but his plan does inch to the left by trading some non-union areas of SWVA for Radford.

Miller -- The biggest improvement for any Democratic incumbent in the entire plan - trades blood red parts of Poqoson and York county for strongly Dem areas of Williamsburg and Newport News

Northam - Can't change too much b/c of VRA districts but has some important marginal changes that are very intentional. Specifically it sheds 50/50 areas of Norfolk and VA. Beach and picks up strongly Dem areas in Ghent and Park Place.

Houck -- Defintely benefits from the gerrymander - Trades very conservative areas of Madison and Spotsylvania County for very Democratic areas immediately north of C-Ville in Albemarle county. Still Rep leaning but has favorable demographic trends and could potentially  be held by another D after he retires

Reynolds - Another big beneficiary - trades red and trending redder parts of SW VA for heavily African-American areas of Danville, Halifax, and Pittsylvania counties. Rep-leaning, but at least a potential hold when he retires

Herring - Due to massive population growth in the area, the district mainly just contracts. To the extent it has to shed population it loses the more Republican friendly areas and keeps the Dem-friendly areas like Leesburg

Howell - trades swingy areas along the Potomac river for dark blue areas of Arlington and more Dem-friendly areas of Fairfax

31st district - still voted strongly for Deeds. More than half of the population still in Arlington. Moreover, unlike other areas with strong Dem areas (like PW, Richmond, Norfolk, etc.) Arlington is high turnout even in off year elections because of its upscale, highly educated Dem profile. Plus Deeds still on the district by 10+ points even while losing the state by almost 20.



[ Parent ]
Excellent analysis, thanks. (0.00 / 0)
Now, the question is, how does the Saslaw plan compare to other plans - college students, bipartisan commission, whatever - in efficacy and other criteria? I mean, fine, if we HAVE to gerrymander, then let's at least make it as good as possible. Does Saslaw's plan do that? I have no idea, really.

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[ Parent ]
I've analyzed them (0.00 / 0)
and while the non-partisan plans could be called more fair for the local counties/cities, every one of them gives Republicans the Senate the minute Colgan and one of the downstate Dems retires.  Of course, the House plans do the opposite and would have the House at about a 55-45 Republican advantage, but primarily because of the VRA districts, which by definition are gerrymanders to pack in a 50%+ majority of blacks, you can't draw a House map that makes it competitive for a Dem takeover anytime soon.

The Howell map, from my calculations, is geared to give Dems a fairly strong 22-23 seat setup 5-6 years down the road, when guys like Puckett are gone and their seats go Republican and guys like Colgan are gone and those open seats are toss-ups.  It's not a plan that gives Dems 28 or more seats - which would be the equivalent of the House plan which strives for 65 or more Republican seats.  


[ Parent ]
Well, that's not my argument at all (0.00 / 0)
What I said was, using "communities of interest" as your only metric for fair redistricting is inherently biased against the Democrats due to the difference in distribution of Democratic voters versus Republican voters.

And if you think you can draw a better map than Saslaw, have at it.


[ Parent ]
I agree with you (0.00 / 0)
that "communities of interest" shouldn't be the only metric for redistricting. Did anyone ever say that? The issues here are about process, efficacy, and also broader questions about how we want to run our party and our democracy. But whatever, this is a never-ending debate with little chance of resolution. I just hope Saslaw knows what he's doing.

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[ Parent ]
Ok Lowell (0.00 / 0)
Where is your plan...post it that would be a better one than the one Saslaw and company drew?  All vulnerable districts were improved to the max extent possible.  If you have seen a better plan or have one post it.

[ Parent ]
Yes, you're absolutely right (0.00 / 0)
Who am I - or anyone else, for that matter (Peter Rousselot, Albert Pollard, whoever) - to challenge the great, all-knowing, all-powerful Dick Saslaw? You sure put us all in our place there by demanding we present our own plans or STFU!  Clever, clever. (snark)

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[ Parent ]
Lowell (0.00 / 0)
You really did bash Saslaw's plan pretty hard by saying the Senate will STILL go Republican.  I mean that was pretty definitive. I don't think his comment was anything more than "show your work."


[ Parent ]
I didn't say it WILL go Republican (0.00 / 0)
I said there's still a pretty good chance it will, just looking at the seats and the possible retirements...

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[ Parent ]
Lowell, Your argument is then (0.00 / 0)
We could still lose the Senate (retirements, ballot box) and the Senate Dems participated in this awful process which makes everything that much worse.

If you are right, why bother even trying?  Let the judge draw a map that keeps the House Ds in the minority and roll the dice he draws a better incumbent protection map for the Senate Ds than Saslaw/Whipple?

Did we fight for ten years to win Senate elections only to hand it back to the Republicans because the constitutionally mandated redistricting proces is so flawed?

I did not.


[ Parent ]
snark back at you (0.00 / 0)
It easy to throw stones Lowkell...that does not help anything.  Put up a plan.  Otherwise you look foolish

[ Parent ]
Try (0.00 / 0)
this one. But overall, there's no way to figure out which of these districts will, in the end, perform better in November, as it depends on a million variables that nobody can really calculate. Bottom line: this is NOT all quantifiable, there's a great deal of judgment, guesswork, chance, etc. here.

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[ Parent ]
I don't see it (0.00 / 0)
Why are we still likely to lose the Senate?  I read Ben's comments - no numbers just thoughts.

Can someone walk me through it since several people have made it very clear they know why we are STILL likely to lose the Senate?


[ Parent ]
See my comment above for a list (0.00 / 0)
of potentially vulnerable Democratic Senators. Then, consider what turnout will be like in August of an off-year election. Will Republicans and teabaggers turn out? Highly likely. Will the Democratic "base?" We'll see, but they sure didn't in 2009 and 2010. We've also got retirements to worry about, plus an extremely slim margin for error. Put that all together, and there's certainly a decent shot that Republicans will pick up the seats they need to take control of the Senate (with Bolling breaking the tie or not).

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[ Parent ]
Ok (4.00 / 1)
The downstate Senate districts will always be at risk, unless 20,000 loyal voting-age Dems move into each of their hometowns.  Colgan, Herring and Howell district are actually safer now, particularly Colgan's, which is drawn as a generic Dem district since Chuck may not even run this year for reeelection.  As for the 31st, aside from the complaints from Arlington, if you guys can't hold a 60%+ Dem district, then you deserve to have a Republican.  Ben draws up a scenario where the Republicans have the perfect moderate candidate and the Dems a bad one and it's off year and the young don't come out and the blah blah blah. Give most Dem districts a minimum 60% rating and it's a Christmas present.

Not to overly criticize Arlington but you guys are used to 100% Democratic victory even on the worst of days.  That's a luxury most Dems, even in Fairfax, don't have.  So, help us out a bit.


[ Parent ]
I'm trying to make sense of those senate maps (4.00 / 1)
The two maps in the "competition" category look just as jumbled and gerrymandered as Saslaw's plan, and with the William and Mary "commission" plan, I'd be surprised if a single Democrat was elected outside of NoVa, Richmond, and Hampton Roads. Interesting how all of them chop up Albemarle.  

[ Parent ]
Where does this urge for unilateral disarmament come from? (0.00 / 0)
I don't agree at all with DCC's tone, but I don't know where this urge to give the Senate to the Republicans out of some vague notion of what constitutes a "fair redistricting." I will say that if any of the critics can show me a better map that can stop the Republicans from taking over the Senate I'm all ears.

However, none the critics (on this blog or NLS) has done so yet and -- as someone who's done a lot of work on Virginia redistricting through Dave's redistricting app -- I think that's because there is no such plan that can possibly be enacted without giving the Republicans control of the Senate.


Why Give The Republicans the HOD for a Generation? (0.00 / 0)
Talk about "unilateral disarmament"?! How can you justify the Saslaw/Whipple plan which is premised on the assumption that VA Senate Dems should vote for a GOP HOD plan that will enable a veto-proof HOD for a generation under GOP control? That is reason enough to repudiate Saslaw/Whipple. Another reason to repudiate Saslaw/Whipple is, yes, the focus on trying to protect the current incumbents rather than trying to maximize a Democratic majority--in both houses--that will be lasting. Building a plan for both houses from the grassroots up rather than from the top down, is what I am advocating, so I respectfully decline the challenge to come forward with my own personal plan, claiming it is better than Saslaw/Whipple. And, if the legislature deadlocks because the Republicans block every bottom up plan, I would rather trust a special master appointed by a court or a non-partisan Commission, than to trust the incumbent protection plans that the Republicans and Democrats unveiled yesterday.  

[ Parent ]
How Do you bild a plan for both houses (0.00 / 0)
from the grassroots up?  Which is what you say you are advocating.

This idea is tremendous in isolation but it must meet reality at some point.  How do you get the Republicans to pass this plan?  They will gladly pass any plan the Senate Dems do not draw because any other plan benefits the Republicans - just look at the college plans - Senate majority over after November.

If the legislature deadlocks "you would trust a special master" to draw the lines?  Seriously?  

Why should one person - even with that title - be allowed to draw the lines.  Giving one peron the power to draw the lines over the elected representatives of the people is not Democratic.  

As for the non-partisan commission which you prefer would still give the Republicans the majority.  

Your values, noble indeed, all lead to complete one-party domination.  At least if the Senate draws the pan - we have a chance to keep it.



[ Parent ]
Should we let the Republicans Draw the Map? (4.00 / 1)
I am not sure what to make of Mr. Rousselot's argument:

"There is plenty of time to scrap both the Senate Democratic Caucus plan and the House Republican caucus plan, and instead to adopt one of the non-partisan re-districting plans developed by Virginia's college and university students."

What!!!!?  Are the Republicans actually going to vote for any plan that does not help them gain seat?  Of course not.  

The Democrats drew a plan that helps them.  Will it work, I hope so, but in the end we'll see.  We have seen what the Senate Republicans map does - Dems down to 14 seats.



Another of Mr. Rousselot's Arguments (0.00 / 0)
I mean not to pick on the author, only to debate his argument.

Mr. Rousselot argues - The "planning" by Democratic Senators to preserve a majority is "bad policy and bad politics."

Why?  If the Democrats do not "plan" this way, the Senate goes Republican.  Now, everything the Republicans want, they get.  I argue that is very bad policy.

Bad politics?  Voters did not punish the Republicans when they drew the districts in 2001.  Republicans tied in the Senate and picked up around 20 seats in the House (which was a true gerrymandering).  Voters did not cared about the change when it came time to vote.



Cost is another point I would like to discuss. (0.00 / 0)
We all know that the Repubs are all about fiscal responsibility...I guess except when it comes to offering tax breaks to the rich and their corporate cronies....and now when it comes to voting.

Breaking up all these localities has to be more costly to the Commonwealth.  It will require localities to have several versions of sample ballots, several versions of paper ballots, and more electronic voting machines. As I see our map, one of our precincts would be in both HoD districts.  I wonder how much more expensive it will be and did they plan for that in their budget process?


Here's One Bottom Line (0.00 / 0)
1) We are stuck with a non-progressive way to draw maps because the Republicans killed it every year the last 8 years.

2)  The Senate Dems map is better than the one now - substantially.  The question is, will it hold up?  If the electorate is the same as it was in November 2010 - there is no map that would keep the Dems in control of the Senate.
However by taking Democrats from invincible areas and moving them to weaker areas - Democrats have a much better chance.

3) We should not punish Saslaw/Whipple for participating in the only process that is left for them.  Should we really demand that they fight for a non-partisan plan that will cede control of the Senate to the Republicans or let the courts draw one that leads to the same?  

4) Why did many of us fight the last ten years to win senate seats?  Now people want the Senators to give it up by fighting for a non-partsian plan that won't pass, would  end up in court and have some judge give the Senate to the Republicans.    

5) Republican Ideas are Crazy Bad Right Now - the TEA Party agenda is insane.  Have folks seen what was killed last session?  Yeah, the Senate (and NARAL and PP) missed an anti-choice trick play but I am glad the Senate Democrats are doing what it takes to keep the other side from turning Virginia into a test-lab for every right-wing social and economic idea Cuccinelli, Marshall, Pogge, etc can dream up.

6) Electoral politics is tough.  You need to be tough to win and tough to govern and redistricting is one of the toughest games in town.  The Republicans have no problem doing everything they can to win and I have no problem with our Democratic Senators standing up to the Rs, winning elections and basically doing the same thing - all legally of course.


Yeah, I don't necessarily disagree (0.00 / 0)
with any of this. More than anything, though, I think I'm just getting worn out by this debate, especially since it's probably 100% moot at this point anyway (e.g., it's a done deal). I just hope we keep the Senate. If not, it's going to be a horrible 2 years for Virginia.

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[ Parent ]
Some Arguments Here Devastate Dem Recruitment for HOD (0.00 / 0)
Some of the Saslaw/Whipple plan defenders on BV have argued variations on this theme: "It really is too bad we have to support the HOD GOP plan, but you know what, VA Dems have no hope of recapturing a majority in the HOD, so that is just the price we have to pay for trying to build a firewall in the VA Senate". Aside from the other reasons that I and many others have already posted as to why this argument is full of holes, there is another reason: can you imagine what this argument from Virginia Democrats does to attempts to recruit good--or any--Dem candidates to run for the VA House of Delegates? We're telling them, "you know what, we're sorry, but there is just no hope for a Dem majority in the House in this decade, but if you want to run, best of luck to you". That is defeatist and it is wrong.  

what kind of political sense does this statement make (0.00 / 0)
Ok Peter lets look at the chess board.  Map out step by step how the Senate Dems rescue the House Dems, with the House Dems in the minority and a Republican in the Governor's Mansion.  Go ahead map it out.  Lets see your strategy.

[ Parent ]
One More Time (0.00 / 0)
OK, Nubiandem. I will repeat it one last time. I explained this in my original post and in one or more comments earlier today. Here it is again: How can you justify the Saslaw/Whipple plan which is premised on the assumption that VA Senate Dems should vote for a GOP HOD plan that will enable a veto-proof HOD for a generation under GOP control? That is reason enough to repudiate Saslaw/Whipple. Another reason to repudiate Saslaw/Whipple is, yes, the focus on trying to protect the current incumbents rather than trying to maximize a Democratic majority--in both houses--that will be lasting. Building a plan for both houses from the grassroots up rather than from the top down, is what I am advocating, so I respectfully decline the challenge to come forward with my own personal plan, claiming it is better than Saslaw/Whipple. And, in the case of your comment, I am not going to provide you with a "map". However, if your assumption is that the HOD Republicans will block every sensible plan, and therefore thatthe legislature deadlocks because the Republicans block every bottom up plan, I would rather trust a special master appointed by a court or a non-partisan Commission, than to trust the incumbent protection plans that the Republicans and Democrats unveiled yesterday.  

[ Parent ]
what are you talking about (0.00 / 0)
There is no non partisan commission to turn to.  You are living in fantasy land

[ Parent ]
I would rather trust a commission too, but that's not the choice we have (0.00 / 0)
If senate Dems refuse to pass this, the state house and senate maps may go to the courts, but the congressional map wouldn't because that can wait until 2012. Because Democrats are distributed across the state less efficiently than Republicans and because of the legal requirement to retain a certain number of majority-minority districts, we are at a natural disadvantage under a fair redistricting plan. Not to mention that 2011 will be an off-year election with turnout that favors the GOP, etc. If the maps go to court, we are likely to lose the state senate. Then we are left with the McDonnell having a rubber-stamp legislature to do whatever he wants. The GOP will draw the congressional lines however they want, so it wouldn't even remove gerrymandering for the most important offices. The question is not whether fair redistricting or gerrymandering is preferable. The question here is whether goals like drawing neat lines and keeping communities together in the state legislative map is worth the setbacks to worker's rights, women's rights, LGBT rights, environmental protection, effective transportation, etc that would come from leaving the GOP in full control of the state legislature, especially when the congressional map will still be gerrymandered. I think the answer to that question is a resounding "no".  

[ Parent ]
I would rather trust a commission too, but that's not the choice we have (0.00 / 0)
If senate Dems refuse to pass this, the state house and senate maps may go to the courts, but the congressional map wouldn't because that can wait until 2012. Because Democrats are distributed across the state less efficiently than Republicans and because of the legal requirement to retain a certain number of majority-minority districts, we are at a natural disadvantage under a fair redistricting plan. Not to mention that 2011 will be an off-year election with turnout that favors the GOP, etc. If the maps go to court, we are likely to lose the state senate. Then we are left with the McDonnell having a rubber-stamp legislature to do whatever he wants. The GOP will draw the congressional lines however they want, so it wouldn't even remove gerrymandering for the most important offices. The question is not whether fair redistricting or gerrymandering is preferable. The question here is whether goals like drawing neat lines and keeping communities together in the state legislative map is worth the setbacks to worker's rights, women's rights, LGBT rights, environmental protection, effective transportation, etc that would come from leaving the GOP in full control of the state legislature, especially when the congressional map will still be gerrymandered. I think the answer to that question is a resounding "no".  

[ Parent ]
Agree, I think one must remember what our starting point is...... (0.00 / 0)
We barely hold the state Senate, but we're already wiped out in the Assembly at 61-39.

The House Republicans will not go along with a plan that jeopardizes more than, say, 5 of their seats, and they'll sacrifice that much only in exchange for our surrendering the state Senate for a decade.

Some people seem to act as if Democrats get to write a unilateral plan.


[ Parent ]
No Way Out for House Democrats (0.00 / 0)
There are only 39-40 Democratic seats - the best you will get under your scenario is this:  a legislative deadlock, the courts will draw a map and that map will be pro-Republican.  

There is no legal, non-partisan guidelines for the judges to use in the state of Virginia.  They will have to defer to the voters who have put 60 Republicans in office and draw a map that leaves the Rs in huge control of the House.  Dems gain a few seats best case.

So, the Senate Democrats should throw away their majority (see the college plans) in a Don Quixote-esque crusade to save a life that cannot be saved.

Noble, yes.  Realistic no.

The real problem for the House Democrats is that they came into this year with only 39 members (not their fault the election cycle fell in 2009 - bad year).

You do not see Republicans bashing the House Rs for ditching the Senate Rs because everyone knows the system is the way it is.  Nothing can be done.



[ Parent ]
Realistic Yes, Defeatist No (0.00 / 0)
Nubian Dem and "Anonymous" are recommending static and defeatist band aid solutions to a systemic problem. As for Numbian Dem, in a case of a legislative deadlock, or in a case in which a Virginia court finds that the Senate plan is in violation of law, a Virginia court could appoint a special master or could ask the existing non-partisan Commission for recommendations. Anonymous says "Nothing can be done". That is not a very inspiring rallying cry for the Virginia Democratic Party. It is up to you: do you want to follow a "nothing can be done" philosophy, or do you want to stand for something better?

[ Parent ]
Not at all (0.00 / 0)
I offered no "band aid" solutions so please do not put words in my mouth - where did that come from?  I have not written one word about how to solve the "systemic problem."  Let's stick to the arguments.

As for your argument, you trust the court more than the current process.  The judge can ask anyone they want for advice, but in the end the court will hand down a map.  (I am glad to see you re-thought your non-partisan commission idea). Unlike you, I do not trust the Virginia Supreme Court to save the House Ds in any way nor produce a better map for the Senate Ds than the one the Democrats wrote.  That is where we differ.

I also differ with you in that I do not want to punish Saslaw/Whipple for participating in this process when they are the ones who voted for the last 7-8 years to change it and the Rs were the ones who killed the unicorn.

Democrats fought ten years to win the Senate.  Now you are asking us to take a chance on the Virginia Supreme Court to write two plans that help Democrats more than we are getting out of the status quo.

The solution is non-partisan commission not bashing Democrats protecting what they fought for under the current system - especially when those Democrats voted repeatedly to give up their map-drawing power.


[ Parent ]
Peter's Bottom Line (0.00 / 0)
We're moving here.

Under Peter's plan we will have legislative deadlock.  I think most of us agree the House Rs kill every potential Senate Democratic attempt to help the House Ds.  Especially when House Rs have the Governor's veto pen on their side.

Peter says if deadlock happens "I would rather trust a special master appointed by a court or a non-partisan Commission, than to trust the incumbent protection plans that the Republicans and Democrats unveiled yesterday."

Peter, first understand this.  There is no non-partisan commission. It does not exist. The Republicans have deemed this special life source shall not exist in VA.  The plan will be drawn by a judge because that is the law in case of legisltative deadlock.  Drop the commission drawing the plan already.  It is a unicorn.  

Unlike Peter, I do not trust the courts to draw a map that gives Senate Democrats, who hold a slim majority, a better chance to keep the Senate Democratic than the Saslaw/Whipple plan.  Call me crazy but politicians have leeway to do this judges - not as much.  And there is no way I trust the judges to draw two maps that give the Senate Dems a better chance to keep the majority and the House Ds a striking chance.  If those maps were ever drawn  y a judge they would be appealed to the VA Supreme Court and in the end, that court will not do it.


I Reject the "Nothing Can Be Done" Philosophy (0.00 / 0)
Unlike "Anonymous", I believe the "Nothing Can Be Done" philosphy that Anonymous espouses is a recipe for failure. Unlike Anonymous, I trust a court more than I trust a Devil's bargain to give the Republicans a veto-proof lock on the Virginia House of Delegates for a generation. Unlike Anonymous, I believe the Saslaw/Whipple plan should be voted down by the Virginia Senate because of the way in which it was prepared and the enormous number of embedded flaws that are just beginning to emerge about it

[ Parent ]
Where to begin? (0.00 / 0)
You trust the Virginia Supreme Court to produce two plans -
One that gives the Senate Dems a better chance to keep the Senate while also helping get the House Dems to some sort of significance.  Our Virginia State Supreme Court?  OK, let's just agree to disagree here.  

"Veto-proof lock in the HoD for generations" - you seriously want to keep the word generations (you wrote it several times - but you can't really believe it)?  In 2001 the House Dems went below veto-proof and got to 45.  There is no reason they won't get to 36 and  above in the next 8-10 years - that map is not that good and there are too many Democrats.  Seriously, with all your political experience and acumen, you believe this will last for generations?
The problem is the House Dems started with 39 members (not all their fault - 2009 bad year).

Vote down the plan because:
1) "the way in which it was prepared." I addressed this numerous places.  "Top-down-hierarchical etc." - You can let the Supreme Court of VA draw the maps or leave it the way it is now.  That is all we get.

2) "embedded flaws only just coming out" - No where in this article where you call for punishing Saslaw and Whipple did you mention any flaws in the plan, only the process.  You can introduce new arguments that have nothing to do with your original post but if you think this plan is seriously flawed, show your work.  



[ Parent ]
On the positive side, this diary (0.00 / 0)
has 81 comments (and counting). Also, it's actually been quite informative, IMHO. On the negative side, I've already spent several hours more on this issue than any sentient human being should ever have to do in their lifetimes. So, everyone enjoy the conversation if you care to continue it, I'm moving on to other things, like the cheery topic of the continued assault on clean energy and the environment in Congress.  

Follow me on Twitter. Follow Blue Virginia on Facebook and Twitter.

Well (0.00 / 0)
I'm moving on also - but there is no reason not to draft Peter to run for this seat unless they think its not too late to redraw the seat around him  

[ Parent ]
My thoughts (0.00 / 0)
Let's grab a random issue, the widening of 66. Arlington is very opposed to this, additional traffic, noise, pollution, etc. Candidates over here run on this issue of trying to stop this project.

In Great Falls and the Loudoun precincts in this district, many people commute to DC and use 66, and are stuck in traffic on it daily, and widening it would be very popular.

In a Democratic primary where the electorate tilts heavier to the Dem areas (i.e. Arlington) candidates would be tempted to oppose widening 66 to get votes.

In the general election, that would be used against them in Great Falls and Loudoun.

Might they win anyway? Yes. But if they lose those areas, people who don't have parts of Arlington to save them (Supervisor, Delegate, etc.) would be hurt by the top of their ticket underperforming in their areas.

This is something I've seen before in Fairfax races when candidates have strong regional bases head to head, and it will be much worse with districts like this which are combined with areas that don't just have uncommon interests, but often have opposing interests.


I'm still waiting to see your map (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
And I'm curious why you ... (0.00 / 0)
Have left 3 of the 4 Blue Virginia comments in your account's history on this one thread.  Who are you, and what is your special interest in this issue?

[ Parent ]
Haha i'm so flattered that you looked me up (0.00 / 0)
Not that it makes any difference, but I'm been lurking (and infrequently commenting) on Virginia blogs since the days of Raising Kaine in 2005. I'm a much more frequent commenter on swingstateproject these days.

And in all serious, if you can really post a map that does anything like you'd claim I'd very much like to see it, as I'm sure would the Dems in the State Senate.  


[ Parent ]
Me, too, on NLS' map, and further I don't buy the coattails argument here...... (0.00 / 0)
Coattails, when they happen at all, come from high-profile races at the top of a ticket.

A state Senate race is just another local race, it's not going to produce coattails for a party in Delegate or county races.

It's easy enough for John Foust and other Democrats to simply publicly support widening 66, and publicly disagree with their ticket-mate on that issue.

Ticket-splitting is the norm, so that even in most Governor's or Senate or Presidential elections, you don't usually see the winning candidate at the top carrying his party-mates to victory.  The coattails we saw the past few cycles are the exception, not the rule, which is easy to forget since we have obviously had several wave cycles in a row.  But that won't last, and it will never be normal.


[ Parent ]
Tell Cooch you don't buy the ticketmates mattering argument (0.00 / 0)
Since he held his Senate seat by 101 votes in 2007 on the strength of Pat Herrity and Tim Hugo's big wins in his precincts.  Janet Oleszek hit the number she needed in the places she didn't overlap with them.

[ Parent ]
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The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

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