State House Passes New Districts for Self, Congress

It took only an hour this afternoon for the Republican majority in the Tennessee House of Representatives to approve some of the new voting lines for the next decade of elections. The House passed a new congressional map, and one for its own chamber.

Democratic leaders say they were able to win a few concessions from their GOP counterparts. For instance, they were able to head off a plan that would have made Nashville’s Sherry Jones and Mike Stewart run against each other.

For the most part, Demcratic Caucus Chairman Craig Fitzhugh appeared to shrug off the short time his party had to look at the plan.

“We understand to the victors go the spoils, and we understand that this is an ‘inside baseball’ process that probably people in this building probably care more about on the surface than people across the state do, but the problem that we had with it, was, the people across the state didn’t have the opportunity to care about it.”

The deal with the Republicans called for either Fitzhugh or House Democratic Leader Mike Turner to vote for the plan. The two played rock, paper, scissors to decide who would sign on – Turner (on the right) lost:


The state Senate’s districts were left up to the upper house to decide – in return the Senate is expected to go along with the House’s preference for its own map.

Both chambers are scheduled for an unusual Friday meeting to take final action.

The new House map passed, 66-25 with four abstentions, largely along party lines.

The state Senate is scheduled to take up the new district map for its own members at 9 a.m. Friday. The House meets at 11 a.m. If both houses pass the same wording for the redistricting plans, they could go to the governor by Friday afternoon.

In the House, the only concessions that Republicans made to the Democrats were:
• to allow Nashville Rep. Sherry Jones to run in what had been drawn as an “open” 59th district in the Southeast part of Davidson County,
• to add some precincts to the district now represented by Knoxville Democrat Harry Tindell, and
• to condense the district represented by Democrat Eddie Bass. Originally Bass’s redrawn district stretched from Hardin County in West Tennessee eastward to Lincoln County.

The House took up the new map at 1:15 p.m. It was passed by 2:16 p.m.

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