NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A Tennessee House committee on redistricting voted to approve a Congressional redistricting plan that splits Nashville into three congressional districts.

The proposed map divides Davidson County into three districts instead of keeping it as one district.

“I’m as blown away and upset by this new gerrymandered congressional map as anyone, but no one will be surprised,” state Rep. John Ray Clemmons said in a comment on social media.

State law requires the General Assembly to redistrict based on the U.S. Census every ten years. Whether congressional, state house, or state senate, each district must represent an equal number of people. The optimum number for a congressional district is 767,871 residents.

“They’ve got to do it, but they don’t need to draw it in such a partisan manner,” News4 political analyst Kent Syler said. “The best Republican defense is, ‘We followed the law. The law gives us the ability to do this, and we can draw them the way we want, and so we did.’”

“Rigging a map by dividing a community like Nashville will deny Davidson County voters a congressional representative who is solely focused on local issues and it also denies suburban and rural counties an elected official who is focused on their community’s concerns,” state Sen. Heidi Campbell, chairwoman of the Davidson County delegation, said in a news release. “By carving up Nashville, Republicans will dilute the voting power of minority groups in Middle Tennessee. Federal law and the U.S. Supreme Court have said consistently that district maps should preserve the voting strength of minority groups. It’s a good policy, but I’s also a more accurate reflection of the families in our state.”

Campbell said the new maps would put East Nashville in a district that would include Fentress and Scott counties on the Cumberland Plateau.

Dr. Judy Cummings, a resident of North Nashville for more than 45 years said the proposed map would make life hard.

“Reading and understanding that this plan was going to be unveiled caused us quite a bit of angst,” Cummings said. “It will make life hard. Decisions will be made that I believe that will not be in the best interest of the people that live in those communities.

“It’s just so unfortunate that we live in a time where our elected officials view the lives of their constituents as a chess game,” Cummings said.

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), who represents the current Fifth Congressional District that includes Davidson County, stated the proposed split of Davidson County.

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, said the plan proposed by the House Redistricting Committee accounts for population shifts from East and West Tennessee to Middle Tennessee. 

“I appreciate members of the first-ever bipartisan Select Committee on Redistricting for their thorough efforts in formulating a fair and constitutional congressional redistricting plan," Sexton said in a statement. "This plan meets all state and federal constitutional and statutory requirements; it also represents the distinctive voices of all Tennesseans."

Tennessee Democrat Party Chairman Hendrell Remus is threatening legal action against the plans, including eliminating three House districts in Shelby County and splitting La Vergne in Rutherford County into two districts.

“Tennessee Republicans have split up Nashville’s Congressional District, denying an entire community of shared interests a voice at the national level. They are rigging the system for their own power and gain – we’ll see you in court,” Remus said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“They also eliminated three districts from Shelby County, moving the number of seats minority voters can influence from 12 to 9, and they chopped the city of La Vergne in two, robbing one of the few majority-minority communities in Tennessee of its representation. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s obvious that Tennessee Republicans have racially gerrymandered our state. With their proposed maps, 1 in 4 Tennessee voters will be discriminated against. This is unconstitutional. We’re preparing to sue.”

The proposed congressional redistricting map also split Williamson and Wilson counties into two districts.

“The Republican congressional map is shameless gerrymandering at its worst,” state Sen. Jeff Yarbro said in a statement on social media. “It’s a blatant effort to distort the will of Tennessee voters.”

The League of Women Voters of Tennessee issued a statement showing their disappointment in the proposed redistricting maps that said in part:

The League of Women Voters of Tennessee is disappointed that the proposed redistricting maps for the nine U.S. congressional districts do not reflect the interests of Tennesseans, who want to keep the counties intact. The dissection of Davidson County into three congressional districts to further partisan objectives is emblematic of how the public’s voice has been ignored during this redistricting process.

We ask the Tennessee legislature to listen to what we heard from the public while drawing the political boundaries for the next ten years and keep our counties intact. Our full statement is attached. Please contact me if you need additional information. 

The House Public Service Subcommittee moved the redistricting plans to the full committee during its meeting Wednesday afternoon. The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the maps at its meetings next Tuesday.

Click to view the House redistricting plans.

 

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