Bob McDonnell Kills Bipartisan Redistricting?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

That's sure what it looks like.
But last week, when Mr. McDonnell had a golden opportunity to advance the cause of redistricting reform that he embraced as a candidate, the governor suddenly lost his voice. A bill to do pretty much what he proposed -- create a bipartisan commission to draft electoral maps in the open and with public comment -- was killed in the House of Delegates without a peep from the governor's office. Mr. McDonnell, a popular Republican who won a landslide victory three months ago, could have used some political capital to move the ball on the issue in the GOP-dominated House. Instead, he sat on his hands.

The bill's author, Del. Kenneth R. Plum, a Fairfax Democrat who's been pushing the cause of bipartisan and independent redistricting in Richmond for better than 25 years, called the governor's office with the news that the bill was coming up in subcommittee. He hoped, at the very least, that Mr. McDonnell would send a member of his staff to signal his support. No one from the governor's office showed up. The bill died in the subcommittee on a 5 to 3 vote, with all the Republicans opposing it.

The state Senate is expected to back a similar bill with broad bipartisan support and send its version over to the House. But without intervention from the governor, the House will be the graveyard of redistricting reform, as it has been in the past.
I suppose we can't blame Bob McDonnell for being a Republican partisan through and through, or for wanting his party to be able to gerrymander to its heart's content, but how about for hypocrisy? Here's candidate Bob McDonnell:
Bipartisan Redistricting - Whether through legislation or a Blue Ribbon Governor’s panel, Bob McDonnell will ensure bipartisan citizen involvement in the state legislative and Congressional district redistricting process in 2010-2011. Legislative districts must be drawn in a way that maximizes voter participation and awareness and lines should reflect commonsense geographic boundaries and a strong community of interests. This bipartisan commission, comprised of Virginia citizens who have not held any elected office for at least 10 years, will select its own non-partisan chair and will provide the citizens with access to the process through public meetings, proposed maps online, and a website that will allow public comment and interaction in this important process.
Candidate McDonnell also wrote that "we need to institute bipartisan redistricting to ensure greater citizen involvement, and the vigorous exercise of democracy that is the prerequisite for successful government." He pledged to "establish a bipartisan commission comprised of Virginia citizens who have not held any elected office for at least 10 years." Oh well, so much for that. Promises, promises.