The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus did not let Prince William County and NAACP officials’ Tuesday attack on the proposed Senate redistricting map go without a rebuttal.
On Wednesday, the caucus sent a letter to Ralph Smith, president of NAACP’s Prince William chapter, claiming that the allegations he and county officials made that the map dilutes the voice of minorities in the community are wrong.
According to the letter, signed by Sens. Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax), Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) and Don McEachin (D-Henrico), the Senate redistricting map “expands minority political power in Richmond.” The map protects five of the majority African American “opportunity districts” in Virginia and creates three additional majority-minority districts in Northern Virginia, two of which are centered in Prince William, the letter states.
Smith, Prince William Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) and other elected and religious leaders said at a news conference Tuesday that the Senate redistricting map splinters the county into six Senate districts, only one of which is entirely in Prince William, Stewart said.
Senators, including Sen. George L. Barker (D-Fairfax), who serves Prince William and helped draft the plan, are defending their action and claiming that Prince William has two Senate seats largely in the county.
The letter also states that by giving the county six seats — instead of the current four — constituents actually have more of an influence in Richmond.
Smith said that as of Wednesday evening, he had not received the letter.
The Senate redistricting map was accepted by the General Assembly on Monday and is awaiting approval from Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).