GOP VA Senate Plan Could Alter Howell's District

Republican bill pushed through state senate on Monday proposes big changes to state senate.

A surprise bill proposed by Virginia state senate Republicans that will redraw the state political map was approved 20-19 Monday. It will be further discussed on Tuesday, but if it passes the House and is approved by Gov. Bob McDonnell, it will essentially re-draw the state senate districts, in many cases making them lean more Republican.

Under the Virginia Constitution, the General Assembly draws new Senate and House districts once a decade, and most recently did so in 2011. Republicans said Monday the propsal was an effort to better represent African American voters.

While the proposal would keep virtually all of  Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd)'s Reston districts, it would change many of her precincts in Vienna.

The proposal adds much of Herndon and Great Falls to Howell's district and is expected to make the 32nd District's voter base 2.79 percent more Republican.

The Washington Post reported senate Democrats think the new map would make at least five districts held by Democrats heavily Republican. The map puts two sitting senators, R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) and Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta), into a single district, the Post reported.

Introducing yet another plan is unconstitutional, Senate democrats say, adding that voting while  Sen. Harry Marsh (D), a 79-year-old civil rights leader, traveled to Washington for President Barack Obama's second inauguration was "underhanded." 

The new map, which would take effect in 2015, was tacked onto a bill left over from last year that sought technical adjustments to House district boundaries. 

One Democratic analyst, Kenton Ngo, says "of the 6,147,347 voting age people in Virginia in Census 2010, 2,776,292 would be moved into a new district."

"This redistricting is out of time, out of order and outside the constitution which states that redistricting can only be done in 2011. Our community is being political torn apart without any input or consideration," Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Vienna) said in a statement after voting against the bill.

"This measure is taken on a day when the nation is re-inaugurating our President, and celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King," Petersen said. "It is done outside the ordinary calendar and with the intent to maximize Republican power. There is no other purpose."

In the Republican proposal, Petersen's 34th District would lose much of Vienna, Dunn Loring and the area surrounding Oakton High School, moving those precincts to District 35, a seat held by Dick Saslaw (D).

For a map of districts under the proposed Republican plan, see this interactive from the Virginia Public Access Project.


The BSD Guy January 22, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Laurie Dodd January 22, 2013 at 08:14 PM
I have already contacted the Governor to object to the underhanded way this redistricting proposal was handled. As inconvenient as it may be to some, we live in a democracy that operates under the rule of law. The redistricting process is over. Republicans pushed this gerrymandering plan through without public comment, at a time when a Democratic senator was known to be absent (attending the inauguration), preventing Republican Lt. Gov. Bolling from voting against the measure to break what would have been a tie. This is a new low.
the-stix January 22, 2013 at 08:19 PM
It is nonsense to blame only the Republican Party as though the Democrats do not do the same across the country. Having said that, gerrymandering shoud be done away with entirely as it serves only the interests of politicians and not the voters.
the-stix January 22, 2013 at 08:22 PM
No, the new low was when Reston got Jim Moran whose district was gerrymandered all the way from Alexandria.
Bob Bruhns January 22, 2013 at 09:54 PM
I can't stand the Republicans OR the Democrats, because of their lies and games (at our expense) - so this is just another day to me. A chilly day, as it happens, but just another day.
Lilguy January 22, 2013 at 10:06 PM
and now jumpin' Gerry Connolly's 11th district runs all the way from Reston to DUMFRIES! That's even lower than the Moran district. All brought to you by the Republicans in Richmond.
Lilguy January 22, 2013 at 10:07 PM
If there were a "LIKE" button here, I'd push it.
mc6 January 22, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Sorry I am new here, is Reston predominantly Democrat or Republican normally?
Dave Webster January 23, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Reston is heavily Republican and is represented by the ultra-conservative Ken Plum, known in Richmond as Pro-Gun Plum.
Karen Goff January 23, 2013 at 12:23 AM
He is kidding. Reston generally leans Democratic.
the-stix January 23, 2013 at 12:27 AM
mc6.. here is the truth... http://reston.going.com/articles/reston-votes-2012
the-stix January 23, 2013 at 12:31 AM
Able to stand Obama (and probably Kaine) well enought to get his vote. Truth in advertising no longer exists it seems!
mc6 January 23, 2013 at 01:43 AM
Thanks for the info!
BBurns January 23, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Write to McDonnell. He didn't advocate it and may, with enough pressure, veto it, especially given his interest in bigger things than VA gov, and not wanting to appear too right wing. His Lt. Gov is against it. Online contact form: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm
kelli sincock January 23, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Thanks Beth Burns for helpful information. We will be writing to him in opposition. I have to say I am saddened by the continual degradation of ethics and honor within our representatives. We DO need to hold them accountable when they resort to slimy and underhanded tactics.
Kathy Keith January 23, 2013 at 03:02 PM
I don't like this either. However, Kelli, did you feel this way when the US Congress rammed through the Affordable Health Care bill? Remember, they no longer had the votes in the Senate due to the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts--so they had to use reconciliation. And Scott Brown had run based on voting against this health care plan. The so-called "Louisiana Purchase" bought the vote of Mary Landrieu. The "Cornhusker Kickback" bought the vote of Ben Nelson. The false promise to Stupack bought the vote of the pro-life Democrats in the House. Did you find this ethical and honorable?
kelli sincock January 23, 2013 at 04:02 PM
To Kathy Keith, To answer your question. NO. I do not agree with underhanded tactics in politics, period. AND, most importantly, I do not subscribe to the false justification of "They did it, so it makes it okay for us to do." I'm sick and tired of the hypocrisy in politics. So, there you go. (And you'll notice that I managed to answer your question without using mud slinging terms or calling out names.) I'm sick and tired of the people we elect into various office roles, and place our trust in, doing underhanded things no matter what their justification. AND, I'm disappointed and shocked that no one has the dignity to speak up WHILE the act is being perpetrated. This idea that the ends justify the means is an outright lie. It's shameful. And in my opinion, these people should be fired. I personally think, considering people seem to have lost the sense of propriety and honor, that there should be a law that states that NO voting in any district can take place on the day of Inauguration, OR, on any day of national mourning, such as a major funeral. This would ultimately serve both sides.
David Burns January 23, 2013 at 05:52 PM
To Kathy Keith, While I'm reluctant to dredge up the Obamacare wars again, the Senate Obamacare bill, which ultimately became law (with amendments in the reconciliation process which is typical of legislation), passed the Senate 60-39 before Scott Brown even took office. That's entirely different than using a process designed to tweak districts to effect wholesale partisan-driven redistricting in the dead of night, and to add insult to injury making changes that disenfranchise black voters on MLK day and were possible only because one senator, a black civil rights leader, was out of town attending the inauguration of the first black president. Can the Republicans do any more to destroy their brand?
the-stix January 23, 2013 at 07:41 PM
Very miseleading David! The Reid Senate passed a version of Obamacare on Christmas eve 2009 60/39 with no Republican votes. In January 2010 the Senate Democrats lost the 60th vote because Brown took Kennedy’s former seat. The Pelosi House in March then approved the Senate bill with no Republican votes, and passed changes (with no Republican votes) to it so that the amended bill (that was eventually signed by Obama) could be approved under the rule of reconciliation in the Senate with only Democrat votes. Were it not for the Pelosi fancy maneuvering, there would be no Obamacare as we know it today. There was nothing bipartisan with the way this law was rammed down the American people's throat by Democrats Obama, Reid and Pelosi.
John Lovaas January 23, 2013 at 08:47 PM
How this slimey stuff in Richmond is comparable to the legislative process for the Affordable Care Act boggles the imagination. The Republican off-year gerrymander was never revealed until 30 minutes before the hurryup vote on MLK/Inauguration Day. The Affordable Care Act was kicked around for months before the decisive affirmative votes--with solid margins in both houses. Republicans win the Underhanded and Unethical Championship of the millennium--at least so far!
fuldascout January 23, 2013 at 11:16 PM
FreeBSD, OpenBSD or NetBSD?
DGeorge January 25, 2013 at 02:34 PM
I love to see professional politicians like Howel and Plum go home and get a job and stop feeding at the public trough. Term limits are the only way to get rid of these leeches.


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