The Tennessee Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Redistricting released their plans and maps for congressional and state senate redistricting.
The Senate version of congressional redistricting is substantially similar to the House plan, which was released on Wednesday. These plans split Nashville amongst three congressional districts. Under the current district lines, Nashville is in the 5th Congressional District and is represented by Congressman Jim Cooper. The current 5th District consists of all of Davidson and Dickson counties, and part of Cheatham County.
Current 5th District Congressman Jim Cooper voiced his opposition to the proposed map changes and released a statement in response. It reads, in part:
As I’ve been warning for almost a year, the General Assembly has formally begun gerrymandering Nashville and Davidson County into political oblivion. Under the new map announced today, Nashvillians will be reduced from proud citizens of a capital city to captives inside three colonies run from Clarksville, Cookeville, and Columbia.
The damage this map does to the political influence of minority groups in Nashville is devastating. Our robust, diverse communities in Nashville are represented and affirmed in Washington, DC today when Nashville has its own voice in Congress. That voice is silenced when we are colonized by outlying rural communities. The map was released for the first time today and the more people learn about it, the more they will hate it. The Tennessee Titans stadium will be in one district, and the team’s practice facility in another – this makes no sense.
All Nashvillians should feel insulted and abused by the new map. For at least 100 years, Nashvillians have freely chosen Democratic representatives in Congress, but that tradition is about to end. What Republicans could not win in local elections, they are stealing through gerrymandering.
Lt. Governor McNally (R-Oak Ridge) issued a statement via email on the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee’s release of draft maps for state Senate and U.S. Congress:
I am proud of the work the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Redistricting has done. Despite a compressed timeframe due to the late release of census data, the committee conducted an open and transparent process that solicited and considered input from all Senators and the general public. The recommended maps are fair and legal, disturb no currently serving legislator and preserve, as much as possible, current district composition. Despite challenging and contradictory state and federal mandates, this committee managed to keep both population deviation and county splits to historic lows. An excellent work product to hand off to the Senate Judiciary Committee as this process continues.
Other Democrats are upset by the plans to split Nashville amongst three congressional districts, not just Congressman Cooper. Nashville Democrat State Representative John Ray Clemmons tweeted, “I’m as blown away and upset by this new gerrymandered congressional map as anyone, but no one should be surprised. I keep trying to tell everyone – THINGS WILL ONLY CONTINUE TO GET WORSE UNTIL YOU #VOTE! We cannot just hope that things will change. We have to make change.”
I’m as blown away and upset by this new gerrymandered congressional map as anyone, but no one should be surprised. I keep trying to tell everyone – THINGS WILL ONLY CONTINUE TO GET WORSE UNTIL YOU #VOTE! We cannot just hope that things will change. We have to make change. 🗳
— John Ray Clemmons (@JRClemmons) January 12, 2022
Democrat Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro, also of Nashville, tweeted, “The Republican congressional map is shameless gerrymandering at its worst. It’s a blatant effort to distort the will of Tennessee voters.”
As previously reported, the Tennessee Democratic Party is threatening a lawsuit over the proposed new maps.
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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Tennessee Senate Congressional Map” by tn.gov.