How Quickly They Forget

February 4, 2011 0:43 am

by Erick · 30 comments

Jim Galloway notes an AP story that the Democrats in the state legislature are upset about Republican plans for redistricting.

Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown said he repeatedly raised questions about the plan for redistricting but got vague responses from GOP leaders. He said Thursday’s news was “very much a surprise.”

“It’s obviously not nonpartisan,” Brown said. “I don’t know what this is. I’ve heard rumor after rumor about redistricting. We’re not a part of this process.”

Redistricting had been handled through a state contract with the University of Georgia’s nonpartisan Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

The Democrats seem to conveniently forget just how politicized they handled redistricting. I had personal experience in the matter in the 1991 and 2001 redistricting battles — which were ongoing sagas several years later.

In fact, the Democrats so butchered the state in 2001 that the maps made it up to the Supreme Court. In both the 90s and 2000s, judges ultimately had to participate.

One of the most egregious examples was the 11th Congressional District in 2002. The district went from Rome down US-27 to Carroll County, cut over to southern Cobb County and down through Fayette, Coweta, Upson, Muscogee, etc. At one point the district could be pole vaulted, starting in the 11th and ending in the 11th while jumping over a few meters of the 3rd Congressional District. The 11th was also connected using islands north of West Point in the reservoir.

Jack Kingston’s 1st Congressional District stretched along the southeast of the state then shot up I-75 to take in Robins Air Force Base.

The 3rd Congressional District looked like a crushed Daddy Long Legs.

State House and State Senate districts were no better. At one point, Macon was represented by Seth Harp who lived in Muscogee County and represented, in parts, a 15 foot wide strip of land stretching across the state with no people in it. Milledgeville had representation from Augusta.

Robert Brown and the other Democrats can complain all they want, but there is no way that the redistricting maps of 2011 will be anywhere near as egregious as what Robert Brown supported in 2001, crocodile tears notwithstanding.

At the same time, Republicans should remember just how badly Democrats treated them in redistricting years past and what Republicans claimed as their principles — communities of interest, compactness, and sensible design. They should be willing to do to the Democrats and themselves what the Democrats never did in the nineties and 2001.

Mike Hassinger February 4, 2011 at 1:00 am

“The 11th was also connected using islands north of West Point in the reservoir.”
I had to look up the phrase ‘duck contiguity,’ when I wrote an earlier post about redistricting. Argument was if a duck can swim it, the district is contiguous. Court found otherwise.

seenbetrdayz February 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm

how do those ducks vote? r or d? it makes a difference, you see.

Howard Roark February 4, 2011 at 6:30 am

To quote former Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor,

“Cry me a river.”

Howard Roark February 4, 2011 at 6:31 am

For the record I want to see maps that don’t divide communities and counties as much as possible.

saltycracker February 4, 2011 at 8:53 am

Ditto – keep towns, counties & logical links as a top homogenizing priority.

Max Power February 4, 2011 at 9:07 am

Wouldn’t it be great if our maps looked like Iowa’s?

http://www.legis.state.ia.us/Redist/congress-color.pdf

Mark Rountree February 4, 2011 at 7:42 am

BEST QUOTE EVER! on redistricting, from the 2001 butchering of legislative districts by the Democrats:

“”What in the world are we going to do with a Republican?” asked Cynthia Brown, executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce in Toccoa.” AJC, Jim Galloway, August 11th, 2001
http://tiny.cc/bestquoteever

These people egregiously butchered the legislative lines of the state of Georgia a decade ago. Anyone have an old map handy to link to it?

The worst district was Bill Stephens’ state senate district, originating in Cherokee County, shooting northeast to the Tennessee line and going over to Rabun County.

Yes. How quickly … they forget.

macho February 4, 2011 at 7:51 am

Unless the 2011 maps have multi-member districts then, to echo the Minority Leader of the Senate, they will obviously not be unfair.

Toxic Avenger February 4, 2011 at 8:58 am

I think the argument here is that it should be as non-partisan as possible, Erick. Taking the powers away from at least a nominally non-partisan group and giving it over to the most partisan motley crew you can find isn’t even pretending anymore.

kyleinatl February 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

What? You actually expect Erick to admit that? This is the same guy that more or less inferred on nationally syndicated radio that working for a non-profit wasn’t real work, amongst other nuggets of wisdom ;-)

Erick February 4, 2011 at 11:04 am

Except that when we had a “nonpartisan” center, the Democrats were still exceptionally partisan with it.

Toxic Avenger February 4, 2011 at 11:42 am

Erick, how many of the people who are were involved with, say, 2001 even in the legislature, and are still Democrats?

That’s beside the point. At least then, there was the aura of nonpartisanship. Nobody’s even pretending anymore. I’d rather have a nominally partisan Vinson than an obviously partisan office that’s getting paid by the Republicans.

KD_fiscal conservative February 5, 2011 at 12:04 am

Toxic,

I don’t want to sit here and argue with you, but just to clear up any misconceptions, UGA’s Carl Vinson Inst. is NOT “nonpartisan” or “partition” the folks at CVIG provide technical support(GIS, data analysis, map drawing…etc) to an organization, agency requesting such assistance. The partition nature for the maps have nothing to do with that institute, but those requesting them.

Goldwater Conservative February 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm

It is non-partisan in the sense it is mostly apolitical. They offer their services to everyone in GA regardless of political affiliation.

DonfromSnellville February 5, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Kyle,

Erick may have “implied”, but you “inferred”.

GCSULib February 4, 2011 at 9:18 am

You can view the old maps here:

http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/gacdmap.htm

Go ahead and click on the “color” 2002 maps because I could not make heads or tails of the “black and white” version.

Goldwater Conservative February 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm

The GOP should live up to it’s “competition is best” mantra and draw as many districts as possible that have no partisan advantages. I think 12 is doable…GA is a republican state so all 14 is out of the question.

For one, it would show that they are above the fray as far as partisan bickering is concerned. Secondly, it would pass DOJ pre-clearance with no problem. Thirdly, and this is strictly theoretical, if we have actual competition in our elections we should get better candidates for both sides, more competitive primary elections, and better all around ideas rather than having ideologues in office.

Imagine Tom Price or Paul Broun being called out on all the crap they get away with…or John Lewis and David Scott getting called out on their shenanigans as well.

It is not a likely scenario that a bunch of politicians will put their power in jeopardy by adopting a measure to hold themselves electorally accountable. Like all things in America even our politicians have bureaucratized. They do just enough to look busy without making the necessary decisions for our state move forward as a national leader in any sector other than poultry production.

Not to mention the fact that the GOP has a tight-rope to walk in getting pre-clearance if they decide to rape the electoral map. It would be foolish of the Obama administration to accept anything less than an 8-6 party split in which the 6 democrats are safe or 3 of the republicans are in marginal districts.

KD_fiscal conservative February 5, 2011 at 1:04 am

“Secondly, it would pass DOJ pre-clearance with no problem. ”
I doubt it, the dem DOJ is just as concerning about maintaining stable power as the reb. DOJ.

But my biggest question to you is on what bases can the DOJ not “accept anything less than an 8-6 party split”? They can’t just demand anything they want willy-nilly. They have to atleast act like something about the plan is discriminatory, and even if they do try to demand such a partition split, the State will take to the courts, and it will not be too hard to for the State to prove a map with a 4-5/13-14 split is not discriminatory.

TheEiger February 5, 2011 at 8:31 am

Goldwater, what exactly would you like to call out Paul Broun and Tom Price on? Both have been great for our state.

KD_fiscal conservative February 5, 2011 at 12:27 pm

TheEiger,

I am a Republican, but have always been very critical of Broun.

I am in Broun’s district and have spoke with him on more than one occasion. The man is by definition an ideologue and has no intention of changing. He has no solutions for anything, but will continue to repeat the same nonsense over and over again every time I talk to him, no matter what issue I am trying to engage in intelligent policy discussion about. He will repeat things like “original intent constitutionalist”….”small government”…”less gov’t spending”…. but his actions don’t support the rhetoric. What he is actually saying is “I am for a strict interpretation of the Constitution, EXCEPT on issues where I don’t agree want such an interpretation” and “I am for less spending UNLESS it benefits ME(not even my district, just ME), such as using the frank to ($.5 million taxpayer $) send out propaganda, as long as it helps me.” He will vehemently oppose legislators who earmark projects that help their district’s people, but has no problem sending out mailers telling people how great he is,which ofcourse has absolutely no benefit for anyone but himself. Also, his repeated claims that democrat’s are “anti-American and don’t believe in the Constitution” is sickening considering he has shown his own actions and rhetoric are many times are contradictory to the document. Goldwater Con. is right, there are a LOT of things to call out Broun on, there are many other examples to demonstrate this guys hypocrisy, and I have written about some of those in the past.

Additionally, he is NOT at all good for our state, and is in fact actually a liability to the party as a whole. His repeated idiotic, unreasonable statements do nothing but strengthen the notion that right-winger are “nut-job’s who have no solutions but a lot of lip.” Why do you think he regularly gets national media attention for his foolish rhetoric….b/c the media loves putting fringe elements of the party in the spotlight to “prove” Republican are all wack-job’s.

Also, he has done NOTHING for our state. Examine his record. Voting against practically every bill that comes up, and then trying to get things like calling 2010 “the year of the Bible” doesn’t count as asset to the state.

I HOPE and PRAY he faces a tough primary opponent, or gets arrogant and tries to run for an at large office, and ,of-course, loses.

Goldwater Conservative February 5, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I would merely like to call Tom Price out on pushing his own earmarks off onto out two senators, voting to end Head Start, voting against safety regulations on airplanes, in mines, and on military equipment ratings. For voting against providing armor for our troops. I can keep going. Check out his committee records and roll call votes. The guy is one of the biggest pieces of sh!t on earth.

Then Broun…fiscal con does well above. I mostly despise his use of constituent ignorance for reelection and publicity and his lack of enthusiasm about bringing jobs to his district. He is a moron, a corrupt doctor and wraps himself in the constitution to appear as if he is a patriot.

Furthermore, as far as the DOJ goes…it can deny pre-clearance if it is not satisfied with the political outcomes of the redistricting plan the state GOP sends him. Bush did this to California in 2002 (yes California has like 10 counties and several cities covered by Section 5 of the VRA). No the DOJ can not draw the districts themselves…they send the redistricting responsibilities to the circuit court of their choosing.

In 2002 the Bush DOJ threatened California, which was about to boot the rest of the GOP out of the congressional delegation, that either they maintain the status quo when redistricting or the plans would be sent to the 2nd or 4th circuits (at the time the most conservative) to draw up the plans. We got the point when we were threatened…it would have probably meant a net republican gain of about 9 seats in California and a marginalization of several prominent democrats at the time. I know this because I was working with Berman and D’Agostino Campaigns on the project (the firm hired by both parties to fix the districts for $20k for state legislator and up to $60k for congress).

All I am saying is that the Obama DOJ can get away with, and have a big bargaining chip to play, telling the GAGOP that they create a split or else the redistricting is no longer in their own hands. This could mean giving it to the 9th Circuit with instructions to move districts elsewhere in the state, like the GAGOP did in 2006 to John Barrow. It could mean putting part of Gwinnett into the 6th and 10th districts…it could mean a lot of things

KD_fiscal conservative February 5, 2011 at 8:45 pm

I not disputing what happened in Cali, but if what you are claiming is a possibility, the GA-legislature would opt for the second method of gaining clearance by “obtaining a declaratory judgment from a special three-judge federal district court in the District of Columbia”; of-course that is a far more expensive, but if your scenario was a threat, it would surely be worth the money. In that case, the burden of proof of non-retrogression(prove not worse off then status-quo) lies on the State, and plaintiff is the Obama DOJ. I’m pretty sure cases you are referring weren’t a result of a VRA clearance situation, but some other lawsuit, which I guess is possible, but on what legal grounds would the DOJ have in Georgia this time around.

Look it up, or read Bullock’s new book, it is a very insightful look at redistricting.

Anyway, I guarantee Georgia will not have 6 safe dem, and 3 marginal districts nor will the legislature draw “fair districts”

SallyForth February 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Get a grip, people! The previous maps to which you refer were all cooked up by Republican administration DOJ’s. With Republicans in the White House in 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000, it didn’t matter what the Democrats sent up there for “pre-clearance”, the Republicans in Washington were intent on gerrymandering Georgia to their advantage. And gerrymander they did, by incrementally packing minority voters into as few districts as possible (came out to about 3 congressional districts – 4, 5, and 13) and bleaching out the rest of the state. The 2nd and 12th were competitive, but the other eight districts became all theirs.

All the big hoopla in the news each time was Georgia Democrats trying to stand their ground on at least semi-sensible districts and the Republican DOJ operatives slapping them silly every ten years. They just kept sending the maps back until the then-majority Democrats gave in and drew maps to the DOJ’s liking. It took a while, but the long-range GOP plan worked – as evidenced by their total take-over of the South in general and in Georgia specifically. This last election left John Barrow as the only white Democratic Congressman from all the Southern states combined.

This is the first time since 1965 there has been a Democrat in the White House for redistricting. Watch closely to see if this Democratic DOJ will insist that Republican legislators draw districts that, as Saltycracker said, “keep towns, counties & logical links as a top homogenizing priority.” After all these years, the black congressmen have come to like the sure districts given them by Republican gerrymandering – even though it means they will forever remain in the minority of Georgia’s congressional delegation. Will Obama’s DOJ have the courage to demand sensible geographic districts regardless of race or color, and thus achieve a natural balance in all 14 of Georgia’s new districts? It is way past time to stop dividing Georgians into race-specific districts and undo the four decades of Republican DOJ gerrymandering.

KD_fiscal conservative February 5, 2011 at 12:49 am

Sally,
If you read the newly revised version of the VRA, section 5(2006). They are basically reversing The Court’s previously set interpretation of the law, of not allowing the creation of packed districts solely based on race. This is ofcourse was a favorite practice of the Repub’s and black legislator’s for years. But the wording of the newly written law, leads me to believe that the democrat’s want to allow the creation of more packed, and thus very safely democratic, districts. But then again, it is hard to tell what they are thinking.

“Will Obama’s DOJ have the courage to demand sensible geographic districts regardless of race or color, and thus achieve a natural balance in all 14 of Georgia’s new districts?”

Remember, the DOJ is concerned with enforcing the VRA, so even if they allow for the dilution of blacks(while knowing that the “black opinion” will still be reflected in the district’s choice), the republicans will still draw a map favorable for them, regardless of “communities of interest, and compact” which, as we know, is tertiary to pop. deviation and VRA. So I would think Obama’s DOJ is going to play hard-ball and pack the 2nd, and maybe the 12th(Barrow). Which will at the least guarantee 4-5 more or less permanent dem., and almost certainly black, seats.(which would right at ~30% of the total seats, so it would be hard to argue blacks are being under represented.) The state legislature is ofcourse going to comply.

This just seems like the most sensible, and cheapest, plan for the state. Whether it is fair or not is another story. Personally, I would like to see more competitive district to weed out the nut-jobs(on both sides), but instead current extremists will stay in power, and Barrow is going to run to the left, or/(and) be a primary target for a far, left winger.

slyram February 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm

I keep hearing that Barrow is the only White Dem from the South but what about Heath Shuler of North Carolina. While I hate to sound like a broken record, I say again, why can’t Georgia have a map that drives the DOJ crazy by creating a district that can elect a Black GOP member of congress—two birds, one stone. If you get a person as level-headed as Scott of SC out of the primary, he or she could win easily.

Harry February 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Good idea if it could be done without having a strange-shaped result.

KD_fiscal conservative February 5, 2011 at 12:21 am

Slyram,

I have asked this before, where do you suggest such a district be drawn. It would be a moderate Republicans dream scenario, but how is it even theoretically possible???

SallyForth February 5, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Scuze me for forgetting NC’s Shuler – maybe the thing we keep hearing about is that Barrow is the only white Dem from the “Deep South” states.

Re “creating a district that can elect a black GOP member of congress” – there are already 3 GA congressional districts that can elect a black congressman of whichever party they choose. Nothing guarantees black voters will vote for one party or the other. The problem for GOPers is that they have long ago written off black voters in favor of playing racial politics and corralling white voters. The GOP itself has painted the Democratic Party as the party of black people, in order to successfully give up 3-4 districts in order to control 10-11.

me February 4, 2011 at 9:27 pm

From what I have read most of you are saying
“well, the democrats did it first!”

That doesn’t make it right.

SallyForth February 5, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Yeah, but the Democrats didn’t do it first – for 4 decades they were forced to draw lines dictated by a Republican administration’s DOJ. All the media coverage focused on “those bad ol’ Democrats” and conveniently left out who was really controlling the redistricting of Georgia, under the so-called “pre-clearance” section 5 of the CRA.

For those of you who moved here from states that had the right of self-determination, whose legislatures redrew their lines every 10 years, the governor signed and it became law — you now live in Georgia, a state whose citizens do not have that right. Welcome to the state where we are all second-class citizens! Anything concerning the election process in GA, major of which is how our districts are drawn, has to be sent to Washington and the DOJ for rewriting, redrawing, whatever they see fit before they will approve.

Just so happens the past four decades of redistricting have been controlled by a Republican in the White House (1972, 1982, 1992, and 2002 reapportionments adopted). I’m anxious to see how Georgia gets treated this time around with a Democratic White House and DOJ controlling what finally gets adopted in 2012 – will they finally stand up to the Republicans at the State Capitol and demand sensible districts that do not dilute the black vote statewide by cramming them all into a few districts?

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