Tennessee Democratic legislators could lose between four and nine seats in the state House of Representatives under a redistricting plan to be unveiled Tuesday.
The legislature must re-draw voting districts after each census to be sure districts are roughly the same size. That evens out the power wielded by each voter – one person, one vote.
Democrats knew they would lose ground in the Republican-controlled state House, but Democratic Leader Mike Turner says he’s more concerned about black representation under the GOP plan.
“The African-American population – under any circumstance, under their map, it appears they’re going to lose two members.”
In the 2010 census, the number of African-Americans in the state actually increased, Turner says.
The map could be approved by a House subcommittee Tuesday morning and could be passed by the House as early as next week. Turner hopes to slow it down for a closer look.
Democrats had the whip hand when the General Assembly drew the lines ten years ago. That plan passed with only four votes against. This one will almost certainly have more opposition.
In Davidson County, at least two Democratic incumbents are expected to be thrown into
the same district. But the map may change.
Each Democrat has seen a preview of the district he or she is expected to get, but only Democratic leadership has seen the whole map – for about a half hour, Mike Turner says.
Turner says the map throws Democrats Mike Stewart and Sherry Jones into the same district. In doing so, the map leaves an open district – no incumbent lives there – that will almost certainly elect a Democratic House member, Turner says. He called pitting Stewart and Jones against each other an unnecessarily “punitive” measure by the majority party.
Turner says he hopes the two parties can agree on a less “punitive” layout of districts.
“We put a pretty… pretty atrocious map out, I think, at first, last time… but we sat down and talked about it, and people raised Caine about it, and then I think, then, everybody …ended up getting satisfied with pretty much what they had, last time.”
In nearby Rutherford County, an increased population is expected to cause four House seats in the county instead of the current three. Nearby Dickson County, currently all in the same district, is expected to be split top to bottom. The western half will be grouped with Hickman County and part of Maury.