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