By Charles E. Richardson, published in The (Macon) Telegraph on Sunday, Feb. 6
Our state politicians are finally getting around to doing something they really care about — themselves.
Every decade the big, bad boogeyman of redistricting awakens from hibernation. State legislatures set themselves to redraw district lines. And the mischief is abundant. Certainly, the purpose of redistricting is to accurately assure proper representation according to a state’s population. For example, because of the growth in the state, Georgia will get another congressional seat.
Speaker of the House David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle have seen fit to bring the process in-house. Instead of using the nonpartisan Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia to reconfigure districts. They, both Republicans, have decided to bring the process closer to their control by creating a Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office and hiring a noted Republican law firm to provide guidance.
As would be expected, Democrats are crying foul, but there is nothing they can do — and besides, whatever mischief and dirty tricks come out of the process is just proof Republicans learned well from Democrats.
The last two redistricting exercises were marked by the bizarre. In the 1990s, Democrats struck an unholy alliance in an effort to carve out another majority black district. In the next decade, the districts looked more like inkblots similar to a Rorschach test.
If lawmakers really want a nonpartisan redistricting effort, independent panels, being considered in several states, is the way to go. California has already taken that step. Georgia had its chance to form a Citizens’ Redistricting Commission through SR 344 back in 2007. That effort went nowhere.
However, while the parties preach drawing district lines that are sensible with promises to keep communities of interest together, that is really not on their agenda. Maintaining political power and guaranteeing their re-election, is.
Republican were quite miffed they didn’t run the congressional table last November. While the Democratic districts in and around Atlanta are solid, look to see John Barrow’s and Sanford Bishop’s districts change. Particularly Bishop’s. His margin of victory was only 4,847 votes. Bishop had been declared the loser, but the Columbus area pulled it out for him. In 2012, Columbus may be in another congressional district.