A Tennessee state legislative committee on Wednesday superior one of many nation’s most radical redistricting proposals: A plan that will carve Nashville into three separate congressional districts and dramatically weaken the political energy of Black voters within the state’s largest metropolis.

The proposal would gerrymander Nashville “into political oblivion” and scale back its residents “from proud residents of a capital metropolis to captives inside three colonies,” Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) mentioned in an announcement after the plan superior by means of the state Home redistricting committee.

Cooper, a member of the Home Blue Canine coalition of conservative Democrats, has represented Tennessee’s fifth Congressional District since 2003. The district, which encompasses the complete metropolis of Nashville and surrounding Davidson County, has not elected a Republican since 1872. Nashville, Cooper famous in his assertion blasting the plan, has “remained politically entire for 230 years.”

The present redistricting cycle has set off livid rounds of gerrymandering throughout the nation, with lawmakers redrawing electoral maps that in lots of circumstances will render state legislative and congressional districts fully uncompetitive.

Beneath the Tennessee GOP’s proposal, the epicenter of the fifth Congressional District would shift to rural areas exterior Nashville which might be much more favorable to Republicans. Different elements of the town and Davidson County can be merged into two different districts that Republicans gained by 40 factors every in 2020.

The map would dilute the facility of Nashville’s residents, together with its comparatively giant Black inhabitants, which accounts for roughly 28% of Davidson County’s whole inhabitants. And it could doubtless be sure that Republicans win all three seats that will encompass and embrace the Nashville space, ending greater than a century of Democratic illustration of Nashville and leaving the get together with just one seat in Tennessee’s nine-member congressional delegation.

“The injury this map does to the political affect of minority teams in Nashville is devastating,” Cooper mentioned in his assertion. “Our sturdy, various communities in Nashville are represented and affirmed in Washington, D.C., at this time when Nashville has its personal voice in Congress. That voice is silenced once we are colonized by outlying rural communities.”

He added: “What Republicans couldn’t win in native elections, they’re stealing by means of gerrymandering.”

Odessa Kelly, a progressive who final 12 months launched a 2022 major problem in opposition to Cooper, additionally blasted the plan in a video posted on Twitter.

Republicans are splitting Nashville “for no different cause than to destroy a Democratic stronghold within the state of Tennessee, and to dilute the voices of Black, brown and immigrant individuals, progressive thought, and the voices of anybody else who needs to flee the traditions of the Outdated South,” Kelly mentioned.

Getting into into this spherical of redistricting, Democrats throughout the nation feared that GOP state legislatures would use their energy to gerrymander sufficient districts to primarily get rid of Democrats’ slim congressional majority, even earlier than 2022 elections started.

That hasn’t essentially occurred, in response to the nonpartisan Cook dinner Political Report, which discovered that this spherical of redistricting has amounted to “a wash” between the 2 events, partly as a result of GOP-controlled states have been already so successfully gerrymandered, and partly as a result of Democrats have drawn favorable maps in Illinois, New Mexico and Oregon.

However the GOP will nonetheless get pleasure from a partisan benefit merely from how districts are drawn, and its most aggressive gerrymanders have succeeded in additional eroding the facility of Black and different minority voters, notably in main city areas of pink and purple states.

In North Carolina, GOP legislative majorities drew new maps that will favor Democrats in solely three of the state’s 14 congressional districts, despite the fact that the state is narrowly divided politically. If total vote counts have been evenly break up in future elections, North Carolina Republicans would emerge victorious in 64 of the state’s 120 state legislative districts, and in 32 of its 50 state senate districts, an impartial evaluation of the brand new maps discovered.

The apply of cracking cities like Nashville is a very pernicious solution to restrict the facility of city facilities — and Black and minority populations that usually make up comparatively giant shares of their inhabitants. In Texas, as an illustration, Austin is divided into six separate congressional districts, despite the fact that its inhabitants — roughly 960,000 individuals — exceeds the common dimension of a single congressional district by solely about 200,000 residents.

Efforts to separate cities have grow to be much more aggressive in current redistricting cycles, as city and suburban areas have grow to be more and more Democratic. And in already-gerrymandered pink states, cracking blue city areas has served because the GOP’s finest choice to additional consolidate management.

Utah Republicans divided Salt Lake City, a Democratic bastion, into separate districts, whereas North Carolina Republicans break up Raleigh and Greensboro into multiple districts. Oklahoma Republicans broke Oklahoma Metropolis into three districts, doubtless erasing a competitive area {that a} Democrat gained as lately as 2018.

Elsewhere, Republicans have determined in opposition to splitting main cities with giant Democratic populations. The Kentucky GOP briefly thought-about cracking Louisville, the state’s largest metropolis that sits nearly fully inside a secure Democratic district, earlier than leaving it principally intact. However Republicans did move Franklin County, the seat of the state capital that’s roughly 10% Black, out of the sixth Congressional District, successfully ending any lingering Democratic hopes of successful the formerly competitive district. On the state legislative degree, Kentucky Republicans did not create a single district by which Black individuals will make up the vast majority of residents.

Nashville’s inhabitants has grown quickly over the past decade. However at roughly 700,000 individuals, it’s nonetheless sufficiently small to suit right into a single congressional district. The average population in U.S. congressional districts is predicted to be round 761,000 individuals subsequent 12 months.

The proposed Tennessee maps nonetheless need to clear a number of votes in each chambers of the state legislature. Even when they do, they might face authorized challenges of the type filed in opposition to new maps in North Carolina, Ohio and Texas, the place a Justice Division lawsuit alleges the redrawn districts drawback minority voters.

“There may be nonetheless time,” Cooper mentioned in his assertion, “for the Basic Meeting to come back to its senses and cease crippling Nashville.”


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