general assembly

After Democrats have dodged answering questions about who drew their proposed redistricting map, and a federal court creating a contingency plan to mandate a court-appointed specialist the redraw Virginia’s legislative map, Republicans in the House of Delegates have released a “politically neutral, race-blind” remedial redistricting map.

Filed by Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle), the map forwarded under House Bill 7002 was drawn “without the use of any racial data, remedies the constitutional deficiencies, both general and specific, identified by the Eastern District of Virginia by altering 30 House districts, including the 11 challenged districts,” according to a press release.

Unlike the release of the map from House Democrats, the Republican’s map, supporting files, demographics, and election data are all available to the public via the Division of Legislative Services website.

“While we maintain the constitutionality of the bipartisan plan adopted in 2011 and will continue to pursue our appeal to the Supreme Court, we are introducing a map today to demonstrate to the District Court and the public that you can, in fact, draw a politically-neutral, race-blind remedial map,” said Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights).

Cox added, “This is a map that complies with the court order broadly and specifically and adheres to traditional redistricting criteria without combining any currently-elected Delegates and without significantly altering the partisan makeup of any competitive House district.”

Some of the highlights of the newly-drawn map are that it does not make any unnecessary changes, like altering non-adjacent districts, does not combine any currently-elected House members in new district, and does not significantly alter the partisan makeup of any competitive House district.

By using election data from the 2012 presidential election and 2017 gubernatorial election, the chart outlines changes in legislative competitiveness.

The five competitive seats held by Republicans become 0.9 percent “more Republican” using 2017 results or 0.38 percent “more Republican” using 2012 results.

In addition, the four competitive seats held by Democrats become 1.4 percent “more Democratic” using 2017 results or 1.3 percent “more Democratic” using 2012 results.

The plan from House Democrats had moved five currently-held Republican seats to “safe Democratic” seats, based on the 2017 gubernatorial results. As well, four competitive currently-held Democratic seats were moved to “safe Democratic” seats, based on the same results.

Speaker Cox said, “We will continue to engage in a good-faith effort with our Democratic colleagues on a remedial plan that can garner bipartisan support on the floor of the House of Delegates. We have laid out reasonable criteria and are willing to work on this map or a different one, but this map demonstrates clearly what is possible.”

Leaders from the House majority party said yesterday they will return to Richmond in mid-October for a vote on a redistricting plan. The House Privileges and Elections committee is also slated to meet next Thursday.

“If Democrats are serious, they’ll come to the table and engage in good-faith discussions,” Cox stated. “If they don’t, then it will be clear that they are only interested in a self-serving map to bolster their political standing, whether it’s obtained through the legislative or judicial process.”