Tag Archives: redistricting

DesJarlais a Wildebeest & Ketron a Leopard in New 4th?

Congressman Scott DesJarlais tells Michael Collins that he optimistic about winning reelection in the overhauled 4th Congressional District. Others aren’t so sure.
The newly reconstructed district will include six new Middle Tennessee counties and some 300,000 new voters who, up until now, had been represented in Congress by someone else.
“It certainly is a pretty significant change from what I had in the past,” said DesJarlais, a Jasper Republican serving his first term in the U.S. House.
Regardless of the political challenges posed by the new district, DesJarlais is gearing up his re-election campaign and said he feels good about his chances of winning another term this fall.
“I think our message will be the same regardless of whom we represent,” he said. “We’ve been pushing a conservative message of smaller government, less spending, lower taxes and job creation and have just held a hard line on those issues.
“I think the people I represent now — and will continue to represent with the same enthusiasm through the remainder of the year — and the new friends that we meet will get behind that.”
DesJarlais’ message may be the same, but he just might be facing his toughest fight yet, said Bruce Oppenheimer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Not only does DesJarlais have to introduce himself to thousands of new voters, the most populous county in the realigned district will be Rutherford, which is also the home of state Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron.
Ketron has made no secret of his interest in running for Congress and is expected to announce his intentions soon.
Given that the dynamics of the new district would appear to favor Ketron,
DesJarlais “sort of looks like the smallest wildebeest out there and Ketron is one of the leopards looking at him,” Oppenheimer said.
Counties removed from DesJarlais’ district are Cumberland, Fentress, Campbell, Morgan, Pickett, Roane, Scott, White, Giles, Hickman, Lawrence, Lewis, Coffee and Williamson. Those that will remain in the district are Bledsoe, Franklin, Grundy, Lincoln, Marion, Maury, Moore, Sequatchie, Van Buren and Warren. The six added are Bedford, Bradley, Marshall, Meigs, Rhea and Rutherford.

Note: DesJarlais is already working Rutherford County. See his Q&A interview with the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal HERE.

Tindell Bowing Out of the House? (and Roddy running?)

From Georgiana Vines:
Democrat state Rep. Harry Tindell will not seek re-election in a redrawn 13th House District, supporters say, and Republican Marilyn Roddy, a former Knoxville City Council member who lost a state Senate race last year, may run for the new seat.
Under a redistricting plan presented by the Republican majority in the state Legislature last week, Tindell’s 13th District expands from the inner-city south to take in Sequoyah Hills and others areas in the 17th District now held by Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. Roddy lives in Sequoyah Hills.
Tindell said Friday since the Democratic caucus had suggested changes and the Legislature had not yet approved the plans, he had not made a decision about whether to run. (Note: After approval of the plan, Tindell said he’ll announce a decision no later than Thursday.)
“I want feedback from people in Knoxville who help me or who don’t help me. I will make a thoughtful decision. I do every two years anyway,” he said.
Roddy said Saturday she had “not sat down and considered it yet. I don’t have a statement yet.”
She attended the 2012 Regional Legislative Agenda put on by the Knoxville Chamber and two other chambers on Friday.

Some Commentary on Tennessee Redistricting (and a vote note)

Marrero Running, Kyle Maybe
Sen. Beverly Marrero, thrown into the same district with fellow Democratic Sen. Jim Kyle under the final redistricting plan, says she will seek reelection. Kyle says he’s thinking about it. From the Commercial Appeal:
“I am pleased to have an opportunity to run for re-election to the Senate, and I’m pleased that two-thirds of my district was kept intact (in the new District 30) because I’ve represented most of those people for nearly 30 years,” Kyle said.
Said Marrero: “It’s my district, 30, and I’m going to run. It will be interesting. Those days of women just saying, ‘You take it and I’ll go home,’ are over.”

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey
Statement from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey:
The redistricting bills we have passed today are fair, legal and logical. The plans restore regional integrity protecting neighborhoods and other communities of interest. I am proud of the hard work by members of both parties that went into creating them. Most of all, I am excited that with this process completed we can all get back to giving Tennesseans what they have asked for — more jobs, less spending and smaller government.
Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney
Statement from Sen. Lowe Finney:
“With today’s vote to approve redistricting maps in the Senate, the majority party rushed a process that amounted to a secret reverse election. Even today, as these bills go to the Governor for his signature, members of the public have little idea who will represent them.
“The redistricting process should not be conducted this way. Tennesseans deserve openness and proper deliberation regarding such sweeping legislation.”

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris:
From TNReport:
“I think it’s the best we can do. It’s the fairest and most legal redistricting plan upon which we could agree,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, who sponsored the Republican maps in the Senate. “There’s something about this plan that just about everyone can dislike a little bit, and some dislike a lot.”
Sen. Andy Berke
On why he voted for the Senate redisricting bill (in Chattanooga TFP):
“Sen. Watson and I sat down and looked at a number of the precincts in Hamilton County. There were a number of precincts that made more sense to be in the 10th District because of the commonality of interest. They didn’t make all the changes I requested but they made some.”
Cagle: GOP Too Clever?
Excerpt from a Frank Cagle column
Tennessee has always been conservative and it has been trending Republican. Given the in-state vote in 2008 against the Democrats with a ticket led by President Barack Obama, it will be an uphill battle for Democrats this time around as he seeks re-election. As conservative Democrats from rural areas retire, they have been replaced by Republicans.
The Republicans could use a neutral computer model and likely draw districts that would result in their retaining control. But they didn’t. The question now is whether they have gone too far in trying to get a super majority and open themselves up to a court challenge and a judge intervening in the process.
Have they been too clever? We’ll see.

Bipartisan Support
House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey both made a point of declaring “bipartisan supports’ for the legislative redistricting bills that won final passage on Friday.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner and Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle both made a point of saying their ‘yes’ votes were based on a deal. Basically, they agreed a to go along with the bills – even though disliking several aspects – in exchange for Republicans accepting last-minute revisions that benefited some Democrats without harming any Republicans.
The final vote on the state House redistricting bill (HB1555) was 67-25-3 in the House; 23-10 in the Senate. Seven Democrats, including Turner, voted for the bill in the House. Three backed it in the Senate. There were no Republicans voting against it, but two were officially “present but not voting.”
The final vote on the state Senate redistricting bill (SB1514) was 21-12 in the Senate and 60-29-1 in the House. Three Democrats, including Kyle, voted yes in the Senate while two Republicans – Sens. Mae Beavers of Mount Juliet and Kerry Roberts of Springfield, who lost his seat in the plan – voted no. Five Democrats, not including Turner, voted for the bill in the House.
The final vote on the congressional redistricting bill (HB1558) was 68-25 in the House and 24-9 in the Senate. Four Democratic senators – notably including Sen. Eric Stewart of Winchester, who is running for Congress – voted yes. So did seven House Democrats.

House, Senate, Congress Redistricting Plans Get Final Legislative Approval (Kyle now paired with Marrero)

(Note: Updates, expands original post)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lawmakers on Friday approved new boundaries for the 132 seats in the Tennessee General Assembly and the state’s nine seats in the U.S. House.
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey hailed the Republican-controlled redistricting plans as “fair, legal and logical,” though Democrats complained the process was secretive and unjust.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, said it would be impossible to please every incumbent.
“It’s not perfect by any means, and there’s something about this plan that just about everyone can dislike a little bit, and some dislike a lot,” Norris said. “I’m glad this doesn’t come up any more often than every 10 years.”
Senate Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to significantly redraw the maps, though they did make a few concessions that earned them the votes of Democratic Sens. Jim Kyle of Memphis and Andy Berke of Chattanooga. The Senate redistricting proposal passed on a 21-9 vote.
In the original Senate, plan Kyle, the Senate Democratic leader, was meant to share a more conservative district with Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown. But late changes instead paired Kyle with fellow Democratic Sen. Beverly Marrero.
Kyle, who said his vote for the measure was part of the negotiation process with Republican leaders, wouldn’t say whether he plans to run against his colleague.
“The first thing you do is get in the district, and the second thing you do is decide what you’re going to do,” Kyle said. “I’m not a fast decision maker.”
Berke’s district was adjusted to include more Democratic areas of Chattanooga to offset areas he will pick up in conservative Bradley County.
Ramsey said he had agreed with Kyle’s proposal to change the district lines within the Democratic areas of Shelby County “and not messing with the Republicans.”
Sens. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet and Kerry Roberts of Springfield were the only Republicans to vote against the Senate plans, which would leave Roberts without a seat to run for when his term ends this fall.

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Senate Joins House in Approving Congressional, House Redistricting Bills

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state Senate has approved new boundaries for Tennessee’s nine congressional seats.
The chamber voted 24-9 Friday to approve the map passed by the House a day before. The measure now heads to the governor for his signature.
Republicans rejected efforts to redraw the lines for the 9th District in Memphis, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen has complained that the new boundaries would remove all the major Jewish institutions and much of the Jewish vote from his district.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville said that the new district lines are less divisive, because Shelby County will now only be represented by two congressmen, instead of three.
The Senate also voted 23-10 to approve new House districts that the lower chamber passed earlier.

4th District Congressional Candidate Proposes 4th District Congressional District Amendment

Sen. Eric Stewart, who has announced as a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 4th Congressional District, has offered an amendment to the Republican-drafted congressional redistricting bill that the Senate is scheduled to vote on Friday.
Offhandedly, it appears from Stewart’s description in the news release below to make the district more Democat-friendly by putting Coffee County, which tends to be Democratic and is part of Stewart’s state Senate district, back into the 4th while removing the Republican-oriented portion of Bradley County that becomes part of the 4th under the GOP plan.
Of course, it may be safely predicted that the Senate’s Republican majority will vote down the idea. But Stewart might get one GOP vote. Republican Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, who now represents Bradley County in the Senate, has voiced opposition to splitting the county.
Also, Andy Sher notes: .Bradley County Republican Party and majority Republicans on the Bradley County Commission have gone on record saying they don’t want the county split in congressional and state Senate redistricting.
Here’s Stewart’s news release:
NASHVILLE – State Senator Eric Stewart sponsored an amendment Thursday to restore counties within a Congressional redistricting proposal that will go before the Senate on Friday.
“We can make this plan both legal and fair to counties so that they might stay whole and within their current districts,” Stewart said. “I would hope such a plan would receive a fair look in what has been an otherwise hurried process.”

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GOP House Redistricing Plan Revised, Approved

A state House redistricting plan was revised Thursday to eliminate two incumbent-versus-incumbent races that would have been mandated by the original version and to make minor changes in the Knox County district now held by Rep. Harry Tindell.
After the last-minute revisions, the House redistricting bill (HB1555) was approved on a somewhat bipartisan 66-25 voted with four abstentions. A congressional redistricting bill (HB1558) was similarly approved 68-25.
(Note: The revised state House map is HERE.)
The House and Senate both plan to meet today to complete work on redistricting. Plans call for the Senate to act first on its own redistricting bill (SB1514), which will then go to the House for approval. The Senate will then act on the House and congressional redistricting plans already approved by the House.
The Republican-drafted House redistricting plan, as written when unveiled last week, would have paired 12 incumbent representatives in six districts, forcing six races of incumbents running against one another.
The new version eliminates two pairings – Democratic Reps. Mike Stewart and Sherry Jones in Nashville and Republican Rep. Vance Dennis of Savannah with Democratic Rep. Eddie Bass of Prospect in southern Middle Tennessee The other four pairings – three of Democrat-versus-Democrat matchups in Shelby County – remain.

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League of Women Voters: Redistricting Secrecy Not in Public Interest

Statement on redistricting from the Tennessee League of Women Voters:
Representative democracy depends on voters freely choosing their elected officials, not elected officials choosing them.The League works to promote transparent and accountable redistricting processes and to end hyper-partisan practices that don’t benefit constituents.
In our view, the Tennessee redistricting process that has been in the news lately certainly lacks transparency and accountability. We do not have a position on where
to draw district lines nor do we necessarily believe this process is worse than previous legislative efforts.
We do believe, however, that the secret discussions which lead to this “take it or leave it plan” do not serve the public interest. Tennessee can do better.
The League continues its work to encourage development of a better system well in advance of any future redistricting processes. Recently, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee sponsored a contest, which resulted in many Tennessee redistricting maps
being developed on a voluntary basis by students and other Tennesseans.
These maps were judged based on several criteria including:
Compactness. Are all parts of the district within a close geographic area?
 Community Preservation. Are counties kept intact as much as possible?  Population. Is the variance from the ideal population as small as practicable?
 Competitiveness. Are there districts that could be won by either party? It seems clear to the League that the maps submitted by students and others to the Tennessee Map It Out! competition demonstrate how it is possible to use new census data for rational redistricting. For more information see the following website:

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization, encourages the informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages. With more than 90 years of experience and 850 local and state affiliates, the League is one of America’s most trusted grassroots organizations.
Margie Parsley, President, League of Women Voters of Tennessee

Senate Redistricting Plan Splits Knoxville

The new state Senate redistricting plan, which likely will be enacted into law on Friday, divides the city of Knoxville among three senators in a move some Democratic legislators say will dilute city influence.
That criticism is disputed by Republicans and, along with other complaints, was been set aside as GOP majorities in House and Senate committees approved the bills drawing new lines for Senate, House and congressional districts statewide.
The House has a final floor vote scheduled for today on all three redistricting bills with the Senate planning to give its approval on Friday. That would send the measures to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature just over a week after they were made public.
Late Wednesday, Democrats were meeting behind closed doors with Republican leadership about redistricting, several lawmakers said. The apparent topic was to have Democrats drop parliamentary maneuvering that could stall the final vote in exchange for some minor adjustments to the plans in specific House and Senate districts.
Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, noted that the Senate plan will bring Sen. Randy McNally’s district from suburban and rural areas adjoining Anderson County into the downtown area for the first time. He joked that districts of McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and fellow Republican Sens. Stacey Campfield and Becky Duncan Massey “will intersect on Gay Street.”

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Change in Senate Redistricting Leave Kyle Nowhere to Run

State Senate Republican leaders unveiled a plan Tuesday that would leave Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis without a district to represent in November, reports Rick Locker.
The plan, which involves a switch in district numbers from the redistricting plan unveiled last week, would force Kyle out of the Senate when his term ends in November. Kyle told reporters he saw the renumbered districts for the first time Tuesday afternoon
. “I have represented certain neighborhoods in Shelby County for right at 30 years and have a knowledge and rapport with those constituents, and it appears this plan tries to diminish that — but also it appears to try to make it impossible for me to run.
“They’ve been writing my political obituary ever since last fall’s elections, but I am working hard to keep it from being published. I do believe that this rush is to try to get it out of the public’s view and viewpoint,” Kyle said.
The legislature convened its 2012 session Tuesday and immediately began fighting over the decennial redistricting of the legislature as well as Tennessee’s nine congressional districts. By Tuesday night, the new maps had won committee approval in both chambers and were headed to floor votes in the House on Thursday and the Senate on Friday.
The biggest surprise occurred in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where GOP leaders unveiled precinct-level details for the new state Senate district maps they presented only in broad strokes last week.
The plan for the state Senate eliminates a district in Shelby County, due to slow population growth, and creates a new one in Middle Tennessee that would have the same number, District 28, as the one Kyle currently represents.
That was a change from the map unveiled last week, and it cancels a general election contest this year between Kyle and Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown that was set up by the earlier proposal.
Even under the scenario created by last week’s map, Kyle would have faced stiff odds against Kelsey in the new heavily Republican, Germantown-based district. But switching the new district in which Kelsey and Kyle both reside from District 28 on last week’s map to District 31 on the new version makes it odd-numbered, and only even-numbered Senate districts are up for election this year.
Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris of Collierville and Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said they were advised by lawyers that the plan last week would have meant Kelsey and Democratic Sen. Reginald Tate would both have to resign in the middle of their current four-year terms and run in newly numbered districts.
The change Tuesday removes that requirement, and means Kyle is left without a district to run in this year with his term expiring with the November election. His District 28 will be moved to Middle Tennessee and Kelsey’s District 31 is not up for election until 2014.