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Black Voters Key in Debate Over New Virginia Map

“One of the issues that’s likely to arise is how is the Justice Department going to respond to the plans that Virginia sends them,” commission Chairman Bob Holsworth said of Virginia’s status as a Voting Rights Act state.

Holsworth noted that “there is a significant minority presence in the areas in and around Forbes’ district,” and the Department of Justice could decide it should be minority-influenced, as the black caucus has indicated it wants.

Scott, now in his 10th term in Congress, has never faced a competitive election. Forbes has also won easily since winning a competitive special election shortly before the Congressional districts were redrawn in 2001.

Forbes’ 4th district currently runs from the western and southern suburbs of Richmond south to the North Carolina border and east to include the independent cities of Suffolk and Chesapeake.

Charles City currently resides just inside the 3rd district border, but under a proposed plan, it could be among the areas pushed into the 4th district to increase the African-American population.

State Sen. Don McEachin (D), another member of the caucus, said they “have been in dialogue with Rep. Scott every step of the way, and he is aware of the plans” regarding the possibility of removing portions of his Richmond- and Hampton Roads-based district.

If part of McEachin’s state Senate district, which includes Charles City, is pushed inside the 4th district, one source said he could be looking to challenge Forbes in a newly competitive district next year.

Asked whether he would consider challenging Forbes, McEachin told Roll Call, “My 2011 re-election is the object of my focus.”

Other questions about how the final map will be drawn include whether Roanoke moves out of GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s 6th district, how far Republican Rep. Scott Rigell’s 2nd district moves north on the peninsula and whether House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) loses parts of Democratic trending counties of Orange and Culpepper.

Sources said Republican Rep. Morgan Griffith’s hometown of Salem is likely to move into his 9th district.

The three maps adopted by the advisory commission make each district more compact and concise, Dyke said.

Those maps will be introduced in bill form, but McDonald said it is “unlikely” any of them will be approved by the divided General Assembly.

Several maps created by college students will also be introduced, but the final map is expected to be the result of private partisan negotiations and deals, he said.

Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

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