House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Wednesday that he doesn’t plan to weigh in on the Virginia General Assembly’s process to draw new boundaries for the state’s 11 congressional districts to accommodate population shifts revealed by the 2010 Census.
Del. Bill Janis (R-Goochland) has said a plan he is sponsoring that has passed the GOP-held House of Delegates was drawn in consultation with the state’s eight Republican and three Democratic congressional incumbents, including Cantor.
But Cantor declined to publicly endorse Janis’s map to reporters after a forum on jobs he hosted along with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) at Virginia Commonwealth University on Wednesday.
“I’m not supporting any of the plans,” Cantor said. “It’s up to the legislature. It’s up to them to decide. That is the way it works in Virginia, and I’m sure they will work it out.”
The Democratic-led state Senate is moving towards adopting a competing map that would create a new so-called “influence district,” where black voters hold a strong minority, to go along with the state’s one district where black voters are in the majority. They would do so in part by drawing dramatically different lines for Cantor’s Richmond-area district.
The General Assembly is scheduled to return to Richmond on June 9 to work out the differences in their plans.
At Cantor’s job forum, a group of four local business leaders and an economist told a sympathetic Cantor that government regulation, taxation and uncertainty about the new federal health-care law is stifling their ability to expand and create new jobs. A small crowd submitted questions about job creation to panel moderator Bolling, who read some aloud.
Afterward, some audience members complained that questions had been screened. As the event broke up, two women shouted from the audience, questioning why Cantor had risked a government shutdown over objections to federal spending for Planned Parenthood.
“If jobs are the most important thing, why have you spent five months attacking women’s health, Planned Parenthood, NPR — why?” called out Sandee Delano, a regional organizer for MoveOn.org from Williamsburg.
“I don’t think that’s where we’ve been focused,” Cantor told her.
“Bull! You have too,” she responded.
Bolling said afterward that he believed the panel’s conversation reflected questions submitted from the crowd.
“This wasn’t intended to be a town hall,” he said. “This was intended to be a forum, where the congressman had the opportunity to hear from the business leaders on the panel. But we also wanted to give folks the opportunity to provide their input and ask their questions. We wanted to do that in an orderly fashion. That’s the reason we asked folks to write their questions down on index cards and fill them in. We didn’t get to all of them. But we got to bits and pieces of most of them and I think the discussion we had was reflective of most of the question that were asked.”