Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) accused Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) of “playing politics” Friday by vetoing a bill passed by the General Assembly to redistrict the state Senate and House in response to the 2010 Census.
Saslaw vowed that the Senate, where Democrats hold a thin 22 to 18 majority, will simply adopt the same plan again and dare McDonnell to veto the map a second time.
“The only thing he’s going to accept is absolute surrender on the part of the Democrats of the Senate of Virginia,” Saslaw said of McDonnell. “And he’s not going to get it.”
His comments raise the possibility of an impending partisan meltdown over redistricting. The result could be to force the courts to draw Virginia’s new lines and possibly disrupt November’s elections.
McDonnell vetoed the bill, which included new maps for both the GOP-held House of Delegates and the Senate. McDonnell said his concerns were with the Senate bill, which he blasted for passing the chamber on a straight-line party vote and said he believed would not pass legal muster.
“We sent him a bill that our lawyers have assured us is 100 percent constitutional, and he’s chosen to play politics,” Saslaw said.
But Saslaw said that despite the final vote, Democrats had honored requests made by individual Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment (R), for instance, requested that Democrats alter an original proposal that would have cut him out of the city of Williamsburg
“Everything they asked for, we gave them, with the exception of Virginia Beach,” Saslaw said, referring to Republican desires to see two senators located in the city.
Without the votes to override McDonnell’s veto, the House and Senate will have to start their redistricting process anew. But Saslaw said not to expect a different outcome: Instead, the Senate will adopt the same plan.
If McDonnell vetoes the plan a second time, Saslaw said the Senate will not adopt a third plan.
“That’s it — we’re not sending any more after that,” he said.
That would throw November’s election into havoc and force the courts to decide on new districts.