A lot of contention has surrounded the redistricting process in the Commonwealth as the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that 11 legislative districts are unconstitutionally, racially gerrymandered. The the-judge panel is prepared to act on mandating a court-appointed specialist to redraw Virginia’s legislative map if it cannot be completed by October 30.
Weeks ago when Democrats in the Virginia house of Delegates came out with their redistricting plan, which would alter one-third of the Commonwealth’s legislative districts, one in their party broke with the leadership, calling the plan a “self-serving political power grab.” Speaking to the “corrupt political culture” surrounding the map making, Delegate Stephen Heretick (D-Portsmouth) said on the House floor, “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.’”
Although House Republicans have submitted a politically-neutral, race-blind remedial map, Governor Ralph Northam (D) stated this week that he would veto the legislation, regardless of how it looks, kicking the final decision back to the court system. Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said earlier this week, “After weeks of feigning interest, the governor has admitted at last that he wants federal judges appointed by President Obama to draw a redistricting map to deliver a Democratic majority in the House of Delegates.”
Delegate Heretick was one of the bipartisan contingent that helped Republicans draft the new map. Now, it seems that breaking with the party leadership has its consequences. Governor Northam has now pulled out of a scheduled fundraiser with the Democratic legislator, showing that Democratic leaders are becoming aggressive with their tactics to impose discipline on delegates who attempt any work with legislators across the aisle.
The Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) reports that the Democratic plan would have made Heretick’s Hampton Roads area district significantly more Republican. Under the plan forwarded by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones (R-Suffolk), which was approved on a party-line vote, would make Heretick’s district a safer Democratic seat.
Nevertheless, it’s quite a wonder why Democrats always preach “coming together” for Virginians, or for the American people. Whenever some do, their struck down by the party elite who feel their power threatened.