Come all ye who seeketh to followeth the st’ry of the House Democrats and the quest to bewray the myst’rious mapeth mak’r.
More questions are surfacing as Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates rolled out their “new and improved” legislative map last week, which alters 29 of the state’s 100 districts. After the release there was bipartisan criticism, with House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Page) calling it a “hypocritical partisan power grab,” and Delegate Stephen Heretick (D-Portsmouth) taking to floor to call the redistricting attempt 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.'”
Recently, two top Democrats were questioned by the House Privileges and Elections committee about who exactly drew the new district boundaries. However, it seems that the party that drew lines, allegedly, doesn’t even know who did it.
And so beginneth the tale.
When questioned by Gilbert on who drew the new map, Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), who is the patron of H.B. 7001, the bill to redistrict nearly one-third of the Commonwealth, said it was a “collective effort…I don’t know…the exact names…of the individuals.”
He then turned to Minority Leader David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) to take over answering the questions. Though, it didn’t get any better. In fact, it left the audience more confused.
“I have seen these maps,” Toscano said.
“We started with people…we had some consultants out of Washington, and we had other people who had map software, and we started movin’ precincts around, and as you move precincts around there’s a ripple effect and they go out into different districts. So, that’s how the map got produced,” he answered.
When asking about the mystery map makers, Gilbert asked Bagby: “Who would ‘they’ have been taking to, to express those concerns about racial issues?”
Bagby answered, “the map drawer.”
All ye who wisheth to traveleth through the labyrinth, tis furth’r than thee bethink. Timeth is sh’rt to expose the mapeth mak’r.
When Gilbert asked Toscano if he had “been on some of those calls,” which presumably was for Democratic input on the making of the new map with this mystery map maker or map drawer, the minority leader said, “I might have been on some of those calls.”
He added, “Ultimately, the map drawer…that person is in a better position to tell somebody the answer to the question.”
The mapeth mak’r knoweth all.
Jumping into the conversation, Delegate Mark Cole (R-Stafford) then asked: “Would it be possible for us to get a list of map drawers as you called them.”
“Well, I don’t know,” Toscano said bluntly.
Who so dareth bewray the mapeth mak’r?
“Look, we have a map,” Toscano responded while smirking. “If you don’t like the map, either you amend it, or you vote it down.”
The situation surrounding the saga of the mystery map maker is reminiscent of a fictitious story that would be featured as a “whodunit.” Even with members of their own party denouncing the re-drawing, one would think that the least that could be done would be to reveal who actually drew the new legislative map. That is, of course, if the Democrats know who did it – or maybe a random online map generator is to blame.
Did Shakespeare write his own plays? Who shot Tupac? What is covefe? Who drew the Democrats’ map? These are the toughest questions one must consider.