Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Will the GOP Senate Gerrymandering Plan Survive?

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In addition to seeking to reduce the number of poor and minority voters who will be allowed to cast their votes at the polls, the Virginia GOP is also seeking to redraw state senate districts lines so as to increase the strongly Republican districts while piling as many Democratic voters as possible into existing pro-Democrat districts.  It is all part of the goal of gerrymandering districts and suppressing the voting of non-Republican voters so that GOP candidates can win by stealing elections rather than securing the majority of votes in non-gerrymandered districts.  If they could, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Virginia GOP seeking to rescind the right to vote to non-whites and women.  Here are highlights from a piece in the Washington Post that speculates whether the GOP will succeed in stealing control of the Virginia Senate:

House Speaker William J. Howell intends to use a procedural move to kill the GOP’s surprise Senate redistricting plan Wednesday, according to several people familiar with his plans.

Howell (R-Stafford) is expected to rule that the new Senate map radically altered the legislation to which it was attached, according to three legislators and a Capitol staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about private discussions involving the speaker.

Howell spokesman Matthew Moran said Tuesday night that he could not comment on whether the speaker was prepared to rule against the measure, which is slated to appear on the House calendar Wednesday. “The Speaker will rule on any questions regarding the legislation when they are raised on the floor,” Moran wrote in an e-mail.

If Howell decides against the legislation, he would also rid the General Assembly of an issue that has inflamed partisan tensions and threatened to derail Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s bid for a standout legacy in his last year in office. The distraction that resulted from the redistricting bill has made some Democrats less inclined to vote for the Republican governor’s signature transportation funding plan.

Taking up a bill that called for minor “technical adjustments” to House district boundaries, Senate Republicans amended it on the floor Jan. 21 to redraw the entire Senate map. The bill creates a sixth majority-black district but disperses the black vote elsewhere to make at least eight other districts more heavily Republican.

The new map could give Republicans control of the Senate for decades to come. But Democratic anger over it could also make it more difficult for McDonnell and Howell to push through their transportation plan, which died in the Senate on a party line vote Tuesday but remains alive in the House.

The Senate map caught McDonnell and Howell by surprise and put them in a political quandary. Both have the power to kill the measure, the governor with a veto and the speaker by ruling it not germane.

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