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Tuesday | May 06, 2003

GOP seeks more clout through redistricting

There's no doubt that the redistricting process is a mess, but the GOP in several states is making things worse by attempting re-redistrictings in several states where they have newfound majorities in the state legislature -- Texas, Colorado and Georgia.

Rather than let things be, Tom DeLay has been urging his state GOPers in those states to redraw their Congressional boundaries, a mere two years after the contentious process was completed (districts are redrawn every 10 years based on new census data).

In Texas, the state house just approved a new redistricting plan that would convert a 17-15 Democratic advantage in the state's U.S. House delegation into a 20-12 GOP advantage. While the proposal should pass easily through the Texas House, it will likely stall in the Texas Senate, where Democrats have the votes to block the bill.

It's interesting that the Texas GOP has been reluctant to push this bill, but has acquiesced under intense pressure from Texas strongman Tom DeLay.

Over at the Political State Report, the Colorado correspondent writes that his state's GOP is playing similar shenanigans.

Colorado's 7th Congressional District is a rare marvel -- a district where neither Democrats nor Republicans hold a voter registration advantage. It was created by a state court after the Colorado House and Senate, then controlled by different parties, could not agree on a redistricting plan in 2001. After Republican Bob Beauprez won the seat by a mere 121 votes and Republicans captured control of the state Senate by an 18-17 margin, there was some talk about re-drawing the district boundaries to give Beauprez a boost in his bid for re-election [...]

Late Friday afternoon, Senate Republicans announced that during the last week of the legislative session, they intended to pass a bill redrawing five of the state's seven U.S. congressional districts.

It does appear, however, that Colorado Democrats have the ability to run out the clock on the current session, which ends Wednesday.

Update: The Colorado Senate passed the new map last night. It should sail through the House, where the state GOP has an even bigger majority. Luis has a lot more at the Political State Report, including many of the shenanigans the GOPers used to ram through the new plan. Colorado's state attorney general, a Democrat, has already announced plans to challenge the new plan in federal court if it becomes law.

And in Georgia, the newly empowered state GOP is chaffing at a congressional map that seems to favor Democrats (though the GOP controls the state delegation). However, things in Georgia are bizarre, to say the least:

The Georgia Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday over whether the governor has the power to control the top attorney, who is independently elected.

The debate has grown so important to both men that Perdue and Baker plan to attend the hearing, a highly unusual development according to court officials.

Last month, a lower court judge ruled that Perdue could not force the attorney general to drop a case.

The governor had ordered Baker to dismiss a redistricting appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. When Baker refused, Perdue sued him over who has the power to call the states legal shots.

The governor wanted to abandon the states appeal of a Senate redistricting plan adopted two years ago when Democrats were in control of the Legislature. If Georgia wins the appeal, the state would revert to a 2001 redistricting map that was drawn to help Democrats.

Baker started the appeal under Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes, but Perdue asked him to drop it after he took office in January. Baker refused, saying the nations high court had already agreed to hear the case and that Georgia needs better guidance on how to draw district lines.

Perdue said the governor has the final say on the states legal matters. He wants to throw out the state Senate maps altogether and draw new ones to help fellow Republicans.

Update: As many commenters have already pointed out, Democrats need to learn to match GOP dirty tactics mano a mano. If the GOP wants to use its newly gained clout in the aforementioned three states to ram through new redistricting plans, why can't the Democrats do the same?

Democrats should take a good look at California and Illinois and start drawing up new plans. And perhaps even Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Michigan. We can't continue to unilaterally disarm even as the GOP keeps dropping political thermonuclear devices around the country.

Posted May 06, 2003 07:01 AM | Comments (60)


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