NASHVILLE — The Republican-controlled House late this afternoon moved House, Senate and congressional redistricting plans through the State and Local Government Committee as well as the Calendar and Rules Committee.
Approval clears the way for a floor vote on Thursday. Republicans beat down Democrats’ efforts to alter the plan, which wreaks havoc on minority Democrats.
An amendment changing GOP plans to merge parts of the 29th Legislative District, held by Chattanooga Democrat JoAnne Favors, with the 28th Legislative District represented by Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga, was withdrawn.
Both lawmakers are black. Republican Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, has said the move is necessary to protect the black-majority status of Brown’s district under federal Voting Rights Act requirements. Favors’ district is not a majority black district.
Brown said she accepted Republicans’ redistricting proposal after holding a meeting Saturday with constituents who told her they wanted the largest percentage of black voters possible to maintain the district’s representation by a black legislator.
Brown voted for a Democratic alternative to the statewide plan, which included changes in Hamilton County, but she spoke against it. She later said she voted for plan, which she knew was doomed to fail, because of the need for Democrats to remain together.
Meanwhile, Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, voted against the Republican congressional redistricting plan because, he said, it splits his home county of Bradley between the 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts. Bradley currently is in the 3rd District.
Watson said the Bradley County Commission and Bradley County Republican Party’s executive committee all went on record opposing the split.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...