U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D) said in an interview that he prefers a proposal floated Monday by the state Senate to create a second congressional district in Virginia with a sizable percentage of black voters, even though he knows a divided General Assembly may not be able to muster enough support to pass those lines.
Under that proposal, the share of black voters in his district would drop below 50 percent for the first time since the Justice Department ordered Virginia to draw a majority-minority district in 1993. But it would remain a sizable 40 percent — and the decrease wouldn’t bother Scott.
“There should be two minority districts in the state,’’ he said. “I’ve been saying that for 20 years.”
Scott, who represents the Hampton Roads and Richmond areas, said he would also be comfortable with the House of Delegates’ plan, which is designed to preserve the partisan breakdown reflected in the November elections by raising the percentage of black voters in his district — Virginia’s only district where minorities are in the majority — from nearly 53 percent to 57 percent.
“I’d feel comfortable with that,” Scott said. “Politically, I’d be all right.”
Scott, who has been pushing for two minority districts in Virginia for at least two decades, said he spoke to the architects of both plans, Del. Bill Janis (R-Goochland) and Sen. Mamie E. Locke (D-Hampton), chairwoman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
Janis said he spent months contacting all 11 members of the congressional delegation, both Democrats and Republicans, by phone and e-mail. He showed them the final proposal in person Thursday when he drove to Washington to meet with each one individually.
“When I met with Congressman Scott, what he said was the lines in this district reflect the input he provided and the information he provided to us, and that he supports the lines as they are reflected in this legislation,” Janis said.
Scott, who is considering a bid for U.S. Senate next year, said his decision to run for the House or the Senate will partly be based on the new lines for his district.
“None of the plans are final,” he said. “If I think running for Senate will be easier, then I will run for Senate. . . . I haven’t had time to focus on it yet, but redistricting would be one of the factors.”
Last week, former governor Tim Kaine announced his run for Senate. Scott said he recently spoke to Kaine, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “I have nothing bad to say about Tim Kaine,” he said.