This seems to me like it’s a statement of self-interest, not about good government or good districts.” -Democratic citizen commissioner Sean Kumar
Washington, DC — Virginia Democrats last year promised that an independent commission would take politics out of the redistricting process and lead to fair maps, but recent actions by liberal state lawmakers serving on the commission show that promise was one big lie. A new report out this morning from the Virginia Mercury details how Democrat state Senator George Baker is facing backlash from his own party for attempting to use his influence on the commission to ensure his new district will not present him with a primary threat.
As the Virginia Mercury this morning reported,
“A week after noting a consultant-drawn draft map would push him out of his district, Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, drew an amended plan that shuffled just a few precincts, putting himself back in a Senate district with no other incumbents. The attempt came as a shock to other commissioners, one of whom said it looked like the very thing Virginia voters voted overwhelmingly to end…Democratic citizen commissioner Sean Kumar asked why the group would even entertain the idea of letting a legislator draw his own district. ‘I’m not sure why we’re hearing this,’ Kumar said. ‘This seems to me like it’s a statement of self-interest, not about good government or good districts.’
The Mercury goes on to note that Baker’s actions were part of a broader push by Virginia state Democrats on the commission to avoid a new map that would pit incumbents against each other in primaries.
- “It’s become increasingly clear that approach, which drew multiple incumbents into the same district while creating some districts with no incumbents, isn’t sitting well with some Northern Virginia Democrats. Ken Strasma, a Democratic map-drawer working with the bipartisan commission, acknowledged Thursday that he had made some tweaks to his draft maps for Northern Virginia in response to concerns about incumbent pairing.”
“The chaos in Virginia is just another example of how Democrats across the country are doing everything they can to gerrymander maps to benefit themselves, even exploiting the very independent redistricting commissions they claim produce ‘fair maps.’ Eric Holder and the rest of the national Democrats who pushed for this redistricting commission in Virginia should denounce these power grabs for what they are, but their quest for power will keep them silent – just like they have been on the left’s hypocritical gerrymandering efforts in states like Illinois and New York.” – RSLC Communications Director Andrew Romeo
National Democrats like Eric Holder have been vocal about ‘unfair’ redistricting processes in red states, but have refused to condemn mounting efforts by Democrats to gerrymander themselves into power in blue states. Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker ran in support of independent redistricting commissions only to break his promise by signing a heavily partisan new legislative map into law in June. The chair of the DCCC and Eric Holder have urged Democrats in New York to override the state’s redistricting commission to draw maps that favor Democrats. Watchdog groups have also highlighted that Maryland is at “extreme” risk for gerrymandering, as Democrats have repeatedly rejected Governor Hogan’s efforts to make the redistricting process bipartisan.