|(In related news, Dave Leichtman came up with a superb tool for everyone to see how the old and new districts compare. For the House, see here. For the Senate, see here. - promoted by lowkell)|
The Washington Post provides more background on the just-completed redistricting process -- who's responsible, who's happy, who's not happy, and just how badly Bob McDonnell betrayed his campaign promise to "ensure bipartisan citizen involvement in the state legislative and Congressional district redistricting process in 2010-2011," and to draw legislative districts "in a way that maximizes voter participation and awareness and lines [that] reflect commonsense geographic boundaries and a strong community of interests." Needless to say, the latter did not happen.A few "highlights":
*"[D]espite the appointment of a bipartisan commission to advise legislators, the lines were largely drawn by two men: Sen. George L. Barker (D), a health-care planner from Prince William County, and Rep. S. Chris Jones (R), a pharmacist from Suffolk."
*Overall, "[f]ewer than 10 of the state's 140 legislators were privy to the lines before they were made public last week" (and none of the public, needless to say)
*"The Republican-led House of Delegates and the Democratic-controlled Senate have already agreed to vote for their own plans, and then each other's, as part of a deal between the chamber's leaders." Both maps are expected to be approved "with few alterations and within days"
*The end result? "Lines that protect incumbents and punish challengers" and gerrymandering run amok (e.g., "the Senate has proposed stretching one district from North Carolina to Maryland, accessible only by boat," the House "has proposed combining the bustling Northern Virginia suburbs of Loudoun County, including Leesburg, with rural areas of the Shenandoah Valley, into one district").
Over at Waldo Jaquith's blog, he's got a few thoughts on all of this. For instance, Waldo isn't sure whether to be "depressed or pleased" that George Barker (and/or Barker staffers like Sean Holihan) used a program called Dave's Redistricting, "a free web application so you can draw your own congressional districts the way you think they should be!" In addition, Waldo correctly calls Bob McDonnell's bipartisan redistricting commission "more of a fig leaf than ever," with the legislature having "one half of one working day to even consider [its recommendations]," and with the governor completely distancing himself from a commission that he created and that he promised would "ensure bipartisan citizen involvement" and draw district lines "in a way that maximizes voter participation and awareness and lines [that] reflect commonsense geographic boundaries and a strong community of interests." Liar.
Ward Armstrong, Others Blast Redistricting Process as "entirely political," "flawed," "horrific"
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Posted by Lowell at 12:56 PM