For those of you who haven't been following this story, the Republicans in the Virginia State Senate pushed through a controversial redistricting plan that Democrats say will make it easier for Republicans to gain a majority. The State Senate is evenly split, 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats. The Republican State Senators were able to push through the redistricting plan when state Senator and Civil Rights leader, Henry Marsh (D), was in Washington, D.C. attending the second inauguration of President Obama:"On a day when Americans celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday and inaugurated Barack Obama as President, Virginia Senate Republicans took advantage of the absence of civil rights leader Sen. Henry Marsh to push through a hyper-partisan change to Virginia's already gerrymandered legislative district map," the two said in a joint statement.
"This is not the way we should be conducting the people’s business in Virginia. We are encouraged by Governor McDonnell’s statements today expressing disapproval of the tactics that were used. We urge legislative leaders and other elected officials to do the right thing to correct this disappointing and disruptive partisan action.” - Chantilly Patch, 1/22/13
The move not only angered state Senate Democrats, it also caused Republican Governor Bob McDonnell to condemn his own party:“I wanted to attend the historic second inauguration of President Obama in person,” Marsh said in a statement. “For Senate Republicans to use my absence to push through a partisan redistricting plan that hurts voters across the state is shameful.” - TPM, 1/22/13
Virginia Senate Democrats blasted the Republican redistricting plan as a violation of the state constitution:“I certainly don’t think that’s a good way to do business,” McDonnell told reporters this morning after speaking to a business group in Richmond.
He said his two legislative priorities this session are K-12 education and transportation funding reform (which Democrats say is “dead” now after the Republican redistricting maneuver).
“I would prefer nothing else get in the way of those significant reforms,” McDonnell said. - Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 1/22/13
Democratic Gubernatorial candidate, Terry McAuliffe, urged Governor McDonnell to veto this redistricting plan:Democrats pointed to Virginia’s Constitution, which says redistricting may only occur every 10 years, following the federal census. The last census was done in 2010, and redistricting occurred in 2011. Thus, Senate Democrats have a case to challenge the redistricting plan in state court, John Aughenbaugh, a political science professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, said in an email.
Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath would become the odd man out of the redistricting measure as his district would combine with that of Sen. Emmett Hanger Jr., R-Mount Solon. He said while he and Hanger Jr. will remain friends if the bill is signed into law, he anticipated a long road and lots of scrutiny before the proposal lives or dies.
Deeds told his followers on Twitter: “Everybody needs to take a deep breath. We’re a long way from this redistricting becoming law. We have a lot of fight still in us.”
To become law, the bill passed by the Senate still must be approved by the House of Delegates and then signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Moreover, it would need federal approval to take effect. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires states with a history of voter discrimination to have any major voting changes approved by the U.S. Justice Department or a federal judge. - Fairfax City Patch, 1/23/13
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) is afraid that voting on this redistricting plan would harm Governor McDonnell's plans for his last year in office:"I join Governor McDonnell in urging the legislature to end this divisive partisan effort and instead focus on making Virginia the best place for business with mainstream solutions on transportation and education," he said in a statement. "We simply cannot afford to have the legislature spend more time on divisive partisan fights, especially as we have so many important issues to address." - TPM, 1/22/13
Around the country, Republican controlled state legislators are doing everything they can to hold onto their majorities and squeeze Democrats out of power. It's the only way they can win these days because they've gone too far right. Now someone like Mark Warner is popular enough to win his re-election but we need to win both the Governor's race and really campaign hard to win the majority in the Virginia state house. Feel free to donate to either McAuliffe or Warner's campaigns:Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican who holds a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, has “grave concerns about the adoption of a revised redistricting plan,” according to an email sent by an aide. The aide said the measure was “not something that (Bolling) supported.”
According to the aide, the lieutenant governor is afraid the measure will distract from issues such as transportation and education. Both are priorities for McDonnell in his last year in office. - 1/23/13
And if you are a Virginia resident, I urge you to get involved with the state Democratic Party so we can ensure a strong GOTV operation to battle the Virginia GOP's efforts to steal the majority and suppress the vote:
Because the last thing Virginia needs is not only a GOP controlled state legislator but also having this clown as Governor: