Thursday, May 12, 2011

Could it be Deja Vu all over again for John Barrow?

Roll Call is reporting that Ultra-Conservative Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville) will be the point man in handling redistricting for the House GOP.

House Republicans have tasked Westmoreland with overseeing redistricting for their entire caucus for good reason. Westmoreland has extensive experience with mapmaking in his home state, which redrew the Congressional boundaries twice in the past decade. At least three seats are at stake for Republicans, who will likely attempt to draw a safe GOP seat in the new 14th district, shore up GOP margins in the district of freshman Rep. Austin Scott (R) and move more Republicans into Democratic Rep. John Barrow’s competitive district. No one in the Georgia delegation has relationships with the in-state redistricting players like Westmoreland. He is a former state House Minority Leader and is close with Gov. Nathan Deal (R), his former House colleague whom he endorsed early in a crowded GOP primary last year. As governor, Deal will have veto power over the final map submitted to the Justice Department for approval. What’s more, former Westmoreland aide Bryan Tyson has been hired by the state Legislature and will be heavily involved in drawing the new maps. Tyson was also very involved in the 2005 GOP-led redrawing of Congressional boundaries.

Then the folks over at politco has this piece of news:

Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who heads up national redistricting efforts for House Republicans, has been meeting one on one with members of his state's delegation to discuss the redrawing of their districts. Westmoreland and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) huddled outside the House chamber with a Peach State map on Wednesday. Georgia's picking up a seat, which surely will be drawn to the GOP's advantage. In addition, Republicans really hope they can eliminate a Democratic-held seat from the southern part of the state, where several districts need to add population. In an ideal world, Republicans would shore up the districts of freshman Rep. Austin Scott, who beat longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall in 2008, and veteran Rep. Jack Kingston, as well as the southwestern turf represented by Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), for whom legal challenges could be raised if minority voting strength is diluted by a new map. In turn, that would leave Democratic Rep. John Barrow without a seat. As one Republican put it to Huddle, "When the music stops, Barrow isn't going to have a chair." Of course, it's the state legislature that draws the districts, but a unified Georgia delegation could influence that process. And, as a kicker, there's little love lost between barrow and senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus. After he voted against the president's health care law, then-Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking African American in Congress, traveled to Barrow's district to sing the praises of the overhaul to Barrow's constituents. The Georgia Democrat, whose district runs roughly from Athens to Savannah, also thumbed his nose at Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi by voting for Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) for Speaker, rather than Pelosi, at the opening of the 112th Congress.

Im willing to bet that the districts of Bishop, Scott & Barrow will look kinda like this (1992 map), especially with the GOP hell bent on taking out one of the last two rural democrats in the delegation.

If the state GOP stretch the 1st into the 12th, forcing Barrow to either take on Jack Kingston or forcing him to move again (like he did in 2002 when the GOP drew him out the the Athens-Clarke Co area, therefore forcing Barrow to relocate to Savannah rather that face the late Charlie Norwood in 2005). Its maybe deja vu all over again for Barrow.

If this were to occur, then who would dems turn to run in a re-configured 12th district that may look similar like the 1992 or even the 1996 maps?

The Dems bench is rather thin in some of those rural counties in the northern half of the 12th. Let me throw some names out there: Although he is a independent, Augusta Mayor Deke Coperhaver could be persuaded in running in a new 12th district that includes Columbia County as a conservative democrat, then there's ex-State Senator & 2010 candidate for Ag Commissioner J.B. Powell who's background fits in perfectly in a potential new swing district, then there's always Michael Thurmond who rumor has was considering a run against Barrow in the primary last year. I don't how true was that, but remember here in Georgia, you are not required to live in a district to run for congress: (Remember Saxby Chambliss in 1994 when he ran in the 8th, although Moultrie was in the 2nd) Its something that needs to be thought about if you are the Georgia Democratic Party because the possibility is real that Barrow will be the odd man when the lines are redrawn. Remember because Georgia is still under the VRA OF 1965, any maps will have to be approves by the DOJ, despite talk that the GOP could bypass the DOJ & instead let the courts decide if the new maps are fair to all parties.

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