Georgia Remap Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk
Georgia state legislators completed action on a mid-decade redistricting effort Tuesday, sending their proposed Congressional boundaries to Gov. Sonny Perdue (R).
The state House passed the remapping legislation for a second time this afternoon, giving its final stamp of approval to minor changes made and passed by the state Senate on Monday.
Perdue is expected to sign the measure into law, although a spokesman for the governor declined to give a specific timetable for when that might happen. He said Perdue will take time to carefully review the new lines.
Because Georgia falls under the Voting Rights Act, the map will have to be approved by the Justice Department before going into effect for the 2006 elections.
Freshman Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), a former state House Minority Leader and the lead proponent of the re-redistricting effort, released a statement praising the “the brave men and women of the General Assembly who voted to put Georgia back together.”
Republicans, who now have unified control of state government, sought to change the current map, drawn by Democrats in 2001, because they argued the boundaries were unfairly drawn to produce partisan gains. They say their new map, drawn by a Westmoreland aide, splits fewer precincts and counties and reunites communities of interest.
Democrats, meanwhile, have called the virtually unprecedented mid-decade action a GOP power grab and have threatened a court challenge.
“Those who say this is a partisan power grab by the Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for misleading the Georgia public,” Westmoreland said. “Any Georgian who looks at the old map and the new map can tell which one is fair, which one makes sense. The General Assembly has wisely brought back fair play and common sense to redistricting.”
The current make up of the state’s delegation — seven Republicans and six Democrats — is unlikely to change much, if at all, if the new map is implemented.
For Republicans, the greatest political outcome of the line change is solidifying Rep. Phil Gingrey’s 11th district for the GOP.
On the other hand, freshman Rep. John Barrow (D) would be forced to run in a Democratic-leaning district that does not include his home. He could also face a rematch with former Rep. Max Burns (R), whom he defeated in 2004.
Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Marshall (D) may face a challenge from former Rep. Mac Collins (R) in an altered and renumbered 8th district that more heavily favors the GOP.