Political Musical Chairs


    In my part of the Commonwealth, the musical chairs following redistricting are creating quite a bit of business for moving vans. My right-wing Republican senator, Ralph Smith, is packing his bags and moving to the district now represented by fellow right-wing Republican Bill Stanley, the 19th. Stanley, meanwhile, has reportedly decided to move his residence to the 20th senatorial district, where Democrat Roscoe Reynolds is the incumbent. Sadly for me, redistricting put both Smith and Jerry Falwell acolyte Steve Newman into my redrawn district, one that has become even more Republican. So, I get rid of one right-winger only to likely get another right-winger, one who believes he is doing “God’s work.”

    Both Stanley and Smith may have some difficulty in winning election from the districts they have chosen for their new abodes. The new 20th district, which resembles some sort of “sleeping dragon” stretching from Galax in the west to South Boston and also taking in Martinsville and Danville, has become 7.1% more Democratic, according to VPAP. While that district does include more than 30% of Stanley’s old district, he will be hard-pressed to overcome the incumbent protection engineered into the new district lines.

    Smith might have an easier time in Stanley’s old district, which VPAP calculates will be 2% more Republican than it already is. However, he is not well-known at all in that area, since his only other political forays have been one term as mayor of Roanoke City and his term in the state senate from an area north of Roanoke. The new 19th meanders from southwest of Lynchburg all the way to Wythville. The Republican gains comes from precincts in Salem, home to that champion of dirty coal and mountaintop removal, Rep. Morgan Griffith.

    Another interesting political story playing out in my area involves that old House of Delegates fossil from Bedford, Lacey Putney, bless his heart. He may have been cozy with the Republicans for years, but they did him no favors in their redistricting plan. His new district, which lost reliably Republican parts of Bedford County, now includes Clifton Forge and Covington and stretches to the West Virginia border. According to VPAP, the district may still lean slightly Republican, but it gained 11.7% in Democratic strength.

    So, population gains in northern Virginia are making strange new neighbors and odd political bedfellows out here in the hinterland.


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