TN Congressional Redistricting a Dilemma for GOP

A Washington Post blogger who has been looking at congressional redistricting in various states has turned his eye toward Tennessee..
…(I)n Tennessee, there’s still a difference between conservative and Republican. Despite DesJarlais’ 4th district having a Cook Partisan Voting Index rating of R+13 — i.e. heavily leaning toward the GOP — he represents a lot of conservative rural Democrats. And Fincher, especially in the eastern part of his western Tennessee 8th district (just west of Nashville) hs lots of conservative Democrats too.
Republican line-drawers’ first priority is keeping those two seats. Until last year, Republicans were still a minority in the state’s congressional delegation and that not-so-distant memory is likely to weigh heavily on the party.
Shoring up Fincher is job number one. The best thing for him would be to give away his eastern Democratic territory to somebody (Cooper’s 5th district, for example) and pick up more of the heavily Republican Memphis suburbs from Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s (R) very safe 7th district.
As for DesJarlais, sources say the GOP would like to make the unwieldy, 200-mile-long district a bit more logical. Currently, it incorporates disparate groups of people with little in common, stretching from near the Virginia border to near the Mississippi border.
The idea in his district is to cut out as many of the rural Democratic pockets as possible, and move DesJarlais into more Republican areas, with the most obvious solution being to take Murfreesboro from freshman Rep. Diane Black’s (R) safe 6th district. (Of course, this could also earn DesJarlais a primary challenge, given his many new constituents.)
The problem for the GOP, in this scenario, is that giving Murfreesboro to DesJarlais and taking the conservative Democrats out of Fincher’s seat makes targeting Cooper much more difficult, because the leftover Democrats will have to find a home. Blackburn and Black can both take on some of them, but only so many.
Blackburn, in particular, would already be giving up the heavily conservative Memphis suburbs for her district. The easiest solution, Republicans acknowledge, is just to pack as many Democrats as possible into Cooper’s district and assure that the DesJarlais and Fincher districts are safe for years to come
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