In one of their first moves since Tuesday’s election, Republicans said Wednesday they would wait until January when they are in power in both the House and Senate to redraw the state’s 11 congressional districts
“I really don’t see the point with a new legislature coming in in January,’’ House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) said Wednesday at a news conference. “Even though we tried to call the Democrats and have them come back prior to the election, they didn’t seem to want to do it.’’
The decision virtually ensures the state would keep its 8-3 split of Republican vs. Democratic congressmen.
In April, the GOP-controlled House adopted a new map drawn in consultation with Virginia’s incumbent congressmen to reflect population shifts revealed by the 2010 Census.
The Democratic-led Senate passed a competing map which would create a new district in which black voters are a sizeable minority, in addition to another district in which they hold a majority. The House plan, like Virginia’s current map, includes one minority-minority district.
Senate Democrats say a new minority “influence district” would ensure that the state’s congressional delegation was more likely to reflect the state’s demographics. Though almost 20 percent of Virginia’s population is black, only one of its members of Congress is African American.
States must redraw their legislative and congressional maps every 10 years in response to population shifts, to ensure each district contains the same number of people and all state residents have equal representation in Congress.
Legislators have been struggling with redistricting since early summer. Many say they believe the state constitution mandates that redistricting occur in 2011, the same year as the census numbers are released.
Senate Democrats had said the disagreement may force them to allow a federal court to draw the lines.