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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Gubernatorial Candidate Sonny Perdue on Gerrymandering: "When you predetermine outcomes in districts, that’s wrong. The people are the losers . . . ."

From InsiderAdvantage Georgia by Dick Pettys:

The governor hasn’t told us yet what he thinks of the recommendation from his task force to put redistricting power in the hands of a special, seven-member commission instead of the Legislature. But Republicans already have weighed-in, saying there’s no way to take politics out of politics and that the proposal won’t accomplish its stated goal of doing that. Democrats, of course, think it’s worth a shot. They’ve got nothing to lose. They’re in the minority now.

The smart money would be on this one going nowhere. But we haven’t heard from the governor yet.

Here’s what he said at his home in Bonaire four years ago when I interviewed him for a profile of him that I was preparing. I asked him when he knew that he wanted to run for governor, and what had pushed him into the race:

“It was only as I sat there during reapportionment ... and saw a governor driving a General Assembly to divide Georgia into districts that I thought were harmful to representative government that I concluded something had to be done ... I thought what was happening was a real travesty against representative government. That offended me. I became convinced that Georgia, under that kind of leadership, would not be the state that I wanted it to be if it continued.”

The transcript shows I followed up with this: “I can see a ‘Gov.' Sonny Perdue doing the same thing. You said you’re a competitor...Why would you tell people you wouldn’t?”

He responded:

“Because I have an innate sense of right and wrong, and it was wrong. I am a competitor. That’s why you have rules in sports. What happened in the General Assembly, led by Roy Barnes this last special session, was no different than stealing an election at a ballot box ... When you predetermine outcomes in districts, that’s wrong. The people are the losers ...”

The point that’s sometimes forgotten here is that redistricting is an issue that’s important to Perdue on a very personal level. Don’t be surprised if he puts some gubernatorial muscle behind this proposal if he can.
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Although I have always been and remain a big fan of former Gov. Roy Barnes, I felt the exact same way about his reapportionment legislation, and was very vocal in my opposition to it at the time.

3 Comments:

Blogger Lyman Hall said...

I agree that the people need to start choosing their representatives again, instead of the representatives choosing their people. I'd rather have lots of competitive districts so we could have battles of ideas and records instead of who drew the safest seats.
I think this year's gerrymander was particularly pathetic, though. The GOP leadership singled out one open seat and made it impossible for the announced Democratic candidate, Rep. Jane Kidd, to win. They gave all kinds of excuses, but the arrogance of drawing a district that benefits the outgoing Senator's brother-in-law and gets an incumbent Senator a better committee assignment is pathetic.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Lyman Hall said...

I forgot to mention that the 46th district was one of those rare competitive districts in Georgia until the gerrymander. The campaigns were tough, and Senators were attentive to the district so that they could win re-election. The old district was about 51-52% Democratic. It had been held by both a Democrat and Republican. Now, Clarke County has the two Senators that others felt we needed so badly, though they are both Republicans. Clarke County voted 61% and 66% for Democratic Senate candidates, yet we have two rubber stamp Republican Senators.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Lyman Hall said...

I forgot to mention that the 46th district was one of those rare competitive districts in Georgia until the gerrymander. The campaigns were tough, and Senators were attentive to the district so that they could win re-election. The old district was about 51-52% Democratic. It had been held by both a Democrat and Republican. Now, Clarke County has the two Senators that others felt we needed so badly, though they are both Republicans. Clarke County voted 61% and 66% for Democratic Senate candidates, yet we have two rubber stamp Republican Senators.

9:17 PM  

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