House Minority Leader David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, is flanked by Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Henrico, and Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, as he introduces Democrats redistricting proposal. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury – Aug. 29, 2018)
A redistricting plan floated by Democrats in the House of Delegates this afternoon would move 55,000 black voters out of majority-minority districts that a court has ruled are unconstitutional. Most of them would instead be placed in the districts of five vulnerable Republicans.
The plan cuts another two Republicans out of the districts they currently represent.
“When we find that the voting power of black Virginians is being diluted, we must do everything in our power to correct the situation as soon as possible,” said Legislative Black Caucus Chair Lamont Bagby. “The 2011 plan diluted African-American influence in some districts by packing as many as possible into other districts.”
Nobody’s district would pick up more new black voters under the plan than Del. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, the architect of the 2011 redistricting plan that a court has ruled was racially gerrymandered. Jones’ 76th-District, which went for Gov. Ralph Northam last year in a 50-49 split, would see the percentage of black voters increase by 18 percentage points.
Other affected Republicans:
- David Yancey, R-Newport News, would see the number of black voters in the 94th District increase by eight percentage points. Northam easily won the district last year 55-44.
- Riley Ingram, R-Hopewell, would see the number of black voters in the 62nd District increase by nine percentage points. That district was split 49-49 between Republicans and Democrats in last year’s election. Ingram has said he might be considering retirement.
- Roxann Robinson, R-Chesterfield, would see the number of black voters in the 27th District increase seven percentage points. Northam carried the district last year 51-48.
- And Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, would see the number of black voters in the 83rd District increase 6.6 percentage points. Northam carried the district last year 50-48.
The Democrats plan would also add black voters to four districts carried by Democrats last year. The biggest increase would go to Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, who unseated Republican Del. Manoli Loupassi last year.
House Democrats weren’t immediately able to say who the two Republicans were that were drawn out of their districts, but they were able to say that under their plan John J. McGuire, R-Goochland, and Buddy Fowler, R-Caroline, would be in the same district. So would Chris Stolle, R-Norfolk, and Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach.
A spokeswoman said keeping lawmakers in their district wasn’t a factor they considered when they set about redrawing the districts.
Of course, all of this is likely an exercise in futility because Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, are highly unlikely to embrace the plan. See our explainer today on where all this goes when lawmakers reconvene for a special session tomorrow.
Cracks were already forming Wednesday evening, with Democrats calling their work a good first step toward addressing the court order and Republicans offering harsh criticism.
GOP majority leader, Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, issued a statement assailing the effort as a “hypocritical partisan power grab that would fail to pass legal muster.”
He took aim at a statement by Toscano, who erroneously told reporters Wednedsay that no incumbents would be paired together. (Democrats called Toscano’s statement a misunderstanding, which they said stemmed from the fact that they hadn’t considered delegates’ residences when they redrew the lines.)
“We have discovered they drew multiple Republican delegates into the same districts and made five seats currently held by Republicans safe Democratic seats,” Gilbert said. “More importantly, we have discovered they failed to comply with their own stated criteria, failed to comply with several provisions of the court’s order, and consciously used race when drawing their map.”
UPDATE: This post has been edited to add comment from Republicans and Democrats on the proposed maps.
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