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The wrong maneuver in Virginia

This week’s maneuver by Republicans in the Virginia Senate [“Va. GOP’s redistricting maneuver draws criticism,” front page, Jan. 23] just adds to my dismal experience with the GOP in Virginia. Here is the score for this resident of the Charlottesville area:

This new plan would gerrymander my state Senate district so that Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) would lose his seat. This was approved through an unannounced, 20 to 19 vote that took advantage of the absence of a Democratic senator who was attending the inauguration of our nation’s president. There were 30 minutes of debate and no input from the public.

This follows my being gerrymandered in 2011 out of the state House district of Del. David Toscano (D), who represents Charlottesville, and into one including Harrisonburg, one hour and one mountain range away.

Much of the neighborhood I live in is now owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia, in preparation for a $200 million bypass that makes national lists for wasteful projects. This project was approved a bit more than a year ago, in an unannounced technical vote at midnight, by Republicans on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. There was no debate nor input from the public. The governor’s administration recently purged our regional Commonwealth Transportation Board of a dissenting vote on the bypass project, in an echo of the purging of the dissenting voices on the State Board of Health.

Finally, our Republican attorney general has greatly hurt the scientific reputation of the university where I work as a mathematician, through legal action targeting a former environmental science professor, while the Republican-controlled legislature has chosen to shortchange STEM disciplines at state universities, compared to the states to our north and south.

Nicholas Kuhn, Charlottesville

No doubt Virginia Senate Republicans consider themselves brilliant political tacticians after seizing the Inauguration Day absence of a Democrat in the evenly divided chamber to force through a redistricting plan highly favorable to their party. But it also exposed a contempt for the legitimate redistricting process and their insecurities about Virginia voter preferences. 

The concept of public interest was a small but necessary sacrifice to ensure the perpetuation of the GOP’s preeminence in Virginia politics. Apparently skeptical of its continuing appeal, the party is pursuing off-cycle realignment to achieve what it couldn’t at the polls.

Ironically, the strategy illustrates why the GOP has cause to worry. A party that values its power more highly than the interests of those it was elected to serve can’t be attractive for long. The House of Delegates and the governor should prevent this bill from becoming law. 

James A. Lindsay Jr., Arlington

Democrats are upset over the Republican plan to redraw Virginia Senate districts in a way that happens to favor the Republicans and will probably reduce the number of Democratic senators in Richmond. The new plan creates a favorable chance that there will be an additional black Virginia senator. All of this seems fairer and more logical than how Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) oversaw the drawing of Mickey Mouse congressional boundary lines for the sole purpose of giving Maryland another Democratic congressman. The new Virginia district lines seem much more logical than the ones approved in Maryland. If they reduce the number of Democrats in the Senate, so be it. Politics is not always fair, but it is politics, and both parties practice it. 

Ron Moore, Purcellville

Republican state senators should be ashamed of the way they defiled the Capitol that Mr. Jefferson designed more than 200 years ago. Reasonable Virginians of both political parties should hope that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) follows up on his criticism of this action by acting like a grown-up, vetoing this bill and allowing the state to resume serious business.

David L. Kupfer, Arlington

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