As the General Assembly redraws political lines, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is asking that the city remain primarily under one congressional district. Dean sent a letter to the Speaker of the House last month.
Dean says splitting up Davidson County would divide business interests and potentially diminish the city’s role as a regional leader. It would also dilute the consolidation of Democrats in Nashville with the Republican-leaning suburbs, though Dean doesn’t make that point in the letter. Congressman Jim Cooper has also cautioned against splitting up his district.
Rep. Steve McDaniel chairs the House Redistricting Committee and says he will listen to mayors when it comes to drawing lines.
“Keeping cities whole is a consideration, but there’s no law that requires congressional districts to cover an entire metropolitan area.”
While there are outside proposals floating around that split Davidson County two and three ways, McDaniel says his committee has not started work on congressional districts.
Rep. Mike Turner, who is a Democrat like the mayor, says he can’t imagine Republican Congressmen would want more Democrats in their districts, but…
“More power to them. I welcome it because it gives us a chance to take back more seats. So if they’re smart, they’ll try to consolidate on what they got.”
The GOP currently has more seats than ever in Tennessee, controlling seven of the state’s nine Congressional Districts. With majorities in the state legislature, Republicans are also in charge of redrawing political boundaries.
House Speaker Beth Harwell, a Republican, says outside input is important, but she notes the political interests.
“I know that Congressman Cooper is worried about his job. I understand that. But the bottom line is this is a state’s responsibility. This is an issue of state’s rights.”
Harwell points out that there is no Nashville seat to preserve, with the 5th Congressional District including half of Wilson County and not all of Davidson. The very southern part of the county is represented by Congressman Marsha Blackburn.