Gov. Perdue reportedly now favors congressional redistricting, but the Czar has not yet spoken. I find the "apparent" independence refreshing.
Monday night on Lawmakers House Majority Leader Jerry Keen and Speaker Pro-Tem Mark Burkhalter spoke about Congressional redistricting. Their comments, along with those of Sen. Chip Rogers who chairs the Senate Reapportionment Committee andRep. Bobby Franklin who does so in the House Reapportionment Committee, all insist that while they have no idea whether redistricting will come up this year, it it does, it will be the legislature -- and not anyone else (read U.S. congressmen) -- that will be doing the redistricting.
U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey even went so far as to tell Baxter & Galloway that he loves all 15 counties in his district, and that he's happy to have the lines just the way they are. Further, altering the districts is no concern of his. "That's Sonny's call — and the Georgia Legislature's," Gingrey said. Only when — or if — they present him with a map will he weigh in with his opinion, said the congressman.
Despite such baloney from Gingrey, in the 2-8-05 ajc Tom Baxter tells us that Georgia's seven Republican U.S. House members have reached agreement on a new congressional district map.
They also report that according to Keen, House leaders' thinking has changed because the Republican-majority Legislature has made speedier than expected progress on such potentially thorny issues as the state budget and overhauling tort laws. That could leave it more time to deal with a map Keen described as "offensive" and "egregious."
On the state Senate side, Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens cast doubt on the idea of redrawing the map this year.
This ajc article also reports that the state's Republican congressmen have "a handshake agreement" on a new map that would make Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey's west Georgia district more Republican, consolidate Democratic Rep. David Scott's sprawling south metro Atlanta district without altering its African-American flavor, and put Democrat Reps. John Barrow and Jim Marshall into more challenging districts.
The new map would draw Barrow, of Athens, into Republican Rep. Charlie Norwood's Augusta area district, while leaving Republican Max Burns in the 12th District, where he was defeated by Barrow last year. Marshall's 3rd District, surrounding Macon, would be redrawn to include the home of former Republican Rep. Mac Collins.
While there has been great interest among Washington Republicans in redrawing the Georgia map, Republican legislators — and Gov. Sonny Perdue — have been reluctant to return to a subject they worry that voters have little interest in.
This ajc article reports that the governor's spokesman would not confirm a report that the governor met Monday with Republican members of Congress. And that although the Washington newspaper Roll Call described Perdue as having signed on to the new map, this was not clear from interviews with Republicans in Atlanta.
A 2-7-05 UPI article I saw Monday also noted the Roll Call article, and reports that Gov. Perdue now supports the idea of redistricting after having been initially thought to be opposed to altering the lines crafted by Democrats in 2001.
The UPI article quoted U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland as saying:
"Hopefully the leaders in Georgia, because it's a legislative decision, will make that decision to try to put Georgia back together. Put counties and cities back together. Put county seats with their counties and hopefully make it just more of a conventional looking map than what we've got now."
The Macon Telegraph has a 2-8-05 opposing redistricting until after the 2010 census, and also discussing the present districts. It notes in part:
The Republicans rightly complained about the political gerrymandering accomplished by Democrats. There are districts that look like an ink-blot test that split counties and have widely variant areas of interest - from rural to urban. Having such districts, at least on a state legislative level, makes it more difficult for lawmakers to do an effective job. On the federal level, the one Republicans would like to change, it's more difficult to avoid shaping congressional districts without a mixture of rural and urban interests.
At present, Georgia's ugliest districts are: the 1st Congressional District, represented by Jack Kingston; the 8th Congressional District, represented by Lynn Westmoreland; and the 11th Congressional District represented by Phil Gingrey. However, all are Republican, and they are sure to have a say in whatever changes are proposed. After all, the districts may be ugly, but they did elect Republicans.
The real targets of any redistricting plan is Jim Marshall's 3rd Congressional District and Sanford Bishop's 2nd Congressional District, both held by Democrats. The other four Democratic districts are in the Atlanta metro area. Try as they might, Republicans just can't make Democrats disappear off the map entirely.
The Republicans should not follow the Democrats' example. Moving any of the lines could mean drastic changes - and not just for Democrats. Redistricting could bring this session to a sudden halt with bickering and infighting. Better they spend their scant time in Atlanta dealing with real issues than over a battle they've already won.
In their 1-24-05 PI column, Baxter & Galloway state:
Much of the pressure [for congressional redistricting] flows from U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey and Lynn Westmoreland. Both have floated maps — though separately — dividing Georgia into seven largely Republican districts and five Democratic ones, plus one swing seat. Not much different than we have now.