House Democrat Slams Own Party’s Redistricting Plan As A Self-Serving Political Power Grab

Delegate Stephen Heretick (D-Portsmouth) came out against the House Democratic redistricting plan calling it "gerrymandering in response to gerrymandering. It's tit-for-tat. It's, in the immortal words of baseball great Yogi Berra, 'it is deja vu all over again.'" 


This week, Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates rolled out their proposed changes to the boundary lines of 29 legislative districts after a federal court ruled that House districts in the Richmond metro area and in Hampton roads were “racially gerrymandered.” Following the release, Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Page) railed against the Democratic plan saying “it’s clear that this is [a] hypocritical partisan power grab that would fail to pass legal muster.”

On Thursday, Delegate Stephen Heretick (D-Portsmouth) took to the House floor during the special session in Richmond, not to fight against the claims of Republicans, but to uphold them.

“Over the past several weeks, too many backroom conversations about redistricting have been held, out of the public eye, and with no transparency whatsoever,” Heretick said.

The delegate said that situations surrounding the Democratic-led re-drawing of the state’s districts exudes the “time dishonored tradition of gerrymandering districts, that allows politicians to pick their constituents, not the other way around.”

People are “fed up with corrupt political culture,” he proclaimed.

Heretick explained that House legislators must “lead the commonwealth out of this gutter…as we approach our 400th anniversary as a legislature.”

Elected in 2015, Heretick was endorsed by OneVirginia2021, a non-profit organization advocating for a non-partisan redistricting in Virginia. Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) was also endorsed by the group.

Speaking on the necessity to put constituents ahead of politics, Heretick added that the statehouse must “act without more partisan rancor to demonstrate to this nation, to this Commonwealth, and to each citizen we serve – by our actions and not more mere empty words – what we actually mean by the ‘Virginia Way.'”

Heretick said: “We have the opportunity to carve out a legacy which will stand as a shining testimony to the power of what good men and women – on both sides of the aisle – can do when they put this Commonwealth ahead of petty, partisan politics.”

The Hampton Roads area representative then charged to Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) that the redistricting plan forward by Democrats is, in fact, the “hypocritical partisan power grab” that Gilbert spoke of just days before.

“Mr. Speaker, the proposed redistricting map we’ve seen today goes well beyond anything that the federal court has directed us to do – it’s [a] self-serving, political power grab. It’s gerrymandering in response to gerrymandering. It’s tit-for-tat. It’s, in the immortal words of baseball great Yogi Berra, ‘it is deja vu all over again.'” 

He added, “It doesn’t settle any scores, it creates new ones.”

For Heretick, a “non-partisan, independent redistricting” plan is needed to better represent the legislative map that governs politics and policy in Virginia.

“The time has come to finally bury this dinosaur of political corruption we all know as gerrymandering,” he said.

Alluding to similar sentiment within the Democratic caucus, Heretick said that “there are many on my side that feel as I do and are ready to stand for this principal over politics.”

Ending his speech on the floor, the Portsmouth delegate said the state legislature needs to “finally, finally make the monumental patriotic act of looking gerrymandering squarely in the eye – calling it out for what it truly is – and establishing genuine redistricting reform, and drawing districts that actually serve the Commonwealths of the citizens of Virginia.”