Final Georgia Congressional Map Likely Keeps 9-5 GOP Edge

On Tuesday, Georgia state senators “passed a new congressional map that would maintain a likely 9-5 GOP edge in the state’s delegation.” News reporting alleged that concerns existed that the legislation “may be breaking a law that protects coalitions of nonwhite voters.”

“The Senate voted 32-22 to pass the plan, which seeks a wholesale reconfiguration of a suburban Atlanta district now represented by Democrat Lucy McBath. It goes to the House for more debate.”

Some reporting promoted the allegation that “lawmakers gave final passage to maps likely to keep each chamber of the General Assembly under the control of Republicans.” The legislation proposing these House and Senate maps were being sent to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature or veto.

As reported, the concern about the maps by Democrats legislators was dramatically different from those of the Republican legislators. “Senators voted 32-21 to give final passage to a new state House map, despite Democrat concerns that the map harmed minority coalitions and would likely preserve all but one or two seats in the Republicans’ current 102-78 House majority.”

Numbers seemed to have dictated the architecture of the maps. “The House voted 98-71 to pass the Senate map, which aims to keep Republicans’ 33-23 majority.” The displeasure expressed by Democrats regarding the maps and the likely consequences of implementing those maps was dramatic, with the Democrat response being described as “lambasting.” Democrats claim that the maps “did not do enough to enhance Black opportunities in the 10 districts found to be illegal.”

A brief history of the current map flap indicates that lawmakers were “called into special session after U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled in October that Georgia’s congressional, state Senate and state House maps violate federal law.” The federal law was violated, according to Judge Jones because it “diluted diluting Black voting power.” Judge Jones’ ruling “mandated Black majorities in one additional congressional district, two additional state Senate districts and five additional state House districts.” Additionally, as reported, Judge Jones “instructed lawmakers to create the new congressional district on metro Atlanta’s western side.”

Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler may be prescient in her statement that: “I can’t see Judge Jones approving their map when it’s not what he ordered. It goes against everything that he asked for.” Republicans claim, to the contrary, that their “plans meet Jones’ requirements to draw more majority-Black districts.”

Senate President Pro Tem John Kennedy, a Macon Republican, elaborated: “This map maintains the partisan balance this Legislature endorsed and voted on two years ago while at the same time fully complying with Judge Jones’ order.”

Offering an additional endorsement of the Republican map legislation, Republican Sen. Bo Hatchett said: “I think that a lot of time, energy, and effort was put in to make sure this complied with the judge’s order. That’s what it did, and we look forward to moving forward.”

Democrats claim the “maps fall short,” and, as quoted, Sen. Ed Harbison, a Columbus Democrat, condemned the Republicans treatment of McBath. “She has been shuffled around like a chess piece.”

As reported, “It’s the second time in two years that Republicans have targeted McBath, a gun control activist.” The machinations of drawing districts are complex. McBath, who is Black, initially won election in a majority-white district. Republicans regained the seat in 2021 and drew that district “into much more Republican territory.” The Republicans constructed another and more Democratic district, which “McBath jumped into” and defeated Democrat incumbent Carolyn Bordeaux  in a 2022 primary.

Senator Harbison alleged that “Black voting power has been diluted in these maps,” adding that the ability of Black voters to elect candidates of their choice were “not improved.”

Republicans accuse Democrats of partisanship propelled by not getting what they want, whether or not the law is on their side. State Sen. Bill Cowsert, an Athens Republican, articulated this argument. “All of the arguments against this are partisan arguments, people who are angry because they want to change the partisan balance to increase the number of Democratic representatives in Congress for the state of Georgia.”

Although Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee Chairwoman Shelly Echols, a Gainesville Republican, claimed “there’s no concern about eliminating another minority opportunity district,” Democrats argue that Echols’ view is inconsistent with an 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that, Democrats claim, “says districts with coalitions of minorities are protected.”

Republicans point out that the Democrats “failed to offer a map of their own in committee,” and raised the specter that the Democrats might have made the strategic decision that a judge was their best chance of advancing their position.

D & B Staff

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