Richmond controversy

The Virginia General Assembly and federal government could soon clash as a result of the political shift caused by last November’s elections. State Republicans recently succeeded in promoting a controversial congressional redistricting map drawn based on results of the 2010 census.

In the past two weeks, the redistricting bill has successfully passed through both legislative houses, despite allegations by Democrats that it unfairly weakens minority votes while preserving the seats of both liberal and conservative incumbents.

“This plan is one that protects communities of interest and the core of existing districts so that citizens will know who their congressman is,” State Senator Mark D. Obenshain (R-26) said in a press release.

Republicans hold a sizable majority in the House of Delegates and 20 of the 40 seats in the State Senate. Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, whose position allows him to cast deciding votes in the event of a tie in the General Assembly, is a Republican. They maintain that the plan does not usurp minorities’ rights. The bill passed the Senate Friday along party lines, 20-19, with State Senator John Edwards (D-21) absent. The bill passed the House of Delegates 74-21 the previous Friday.

Democrats argue that the plan fills a single district with minority voters, thereby weakening their strength in other districts.

“Sixty percent African-American voting age population is not necessary in the 3rd congressional district to afford minorities the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice,” State Senator Donald McEachin (D-9) said in a press release.


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