McDonnell changes position on redistricting

Creigh Deeds is crying foul. The Democratic Party of Virginia is howling.

For that alone, I commend Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell, yesterday, released his new position on redistricting:

Bipartisan Redistricting – Whether through legislation or a Blue Ribbon Governor’s panel, Bob McDonnell will ensure bipartisan citizen involvement in the state legislative and Congressional district redistricting process in 2010-2011. Legislative districts must be drawn in a way that maximizes voter participation and awareness and lines should reflect commonsense geographic boundaries and a strong community of interests. This bipartisan commission, comprised of Virginia citizens who have not held any elected office for at least 10 years, will select its own non-partisan chair and will provide the citizens with access to the process through public meetings, proposed maps online, and a website that will allow public comment and interaction in this important process.

This position is not the same position McDonnell has taken for years as a legislator and as recently as this February.

As a legislator, he moved to table these sorts of bills and this past February claimed that bipartisan redistricting isn’t going to take the partisanship out of the equation.

“I don’t think it’s worked all that well in other states and I’m not sure that the proposal (inaudible) takes the partisanship out of it. All you’re doing is delegating it to a group of retired judges and other citizens who aren’t necessarily going to be non-partisan. I think right now you can hold the general assembly accountable if you don’t like the way they draw the lines, you vote them out, this gets them off the hook.”

This has prompted the Creigh Deeds campaign and the DPVA to crawl out of the woodwork and be openly hostile to McDonnell:

“Virginians aren’t buying Bob McDonnell’s latest election-year pander,” said Brooke Borkenhagen, Communications Director for the Deeds for Virginia campaign. “Taking Creigh Deeds’ proposal for bipartisan redistricting reform and repackaging it is a new low for Bob McDonnell. And it’s clear that Bob is simply trying to position himself for a head-to-head match up with Creigh in November.”

Well, we know how that match-up worked out last time for Creigh, Brooke. While it was close, Creigh still lost.

“Bob McDonnell doesn’t need a primary opponent when he has his own record to run against,” said Jared Leopold, Communications Director for the Democratic Party of Virginia. “Just months ago, Bob McDonnell stood silently while the Republicans in the House killed bipartisan redistricting. Now, he has suddenly changed his mind. Over and over again, McDonnell failed to act when it counted. Today’s cynical flip-flop raises serious questions about who the real Bob McDonnell is.”

Actually, you should probably ask the House Democratic Black Caucus about their position on redistricting, too, Jared. Funny how you leave that out of your quote.

So, Democrats, as they typically do, make it a personal attack as opposed to looking at the nature of the proposal.

Quite frankly, I don’t agree with McDonnell on this one. I agree with the former McDonnell positions.

But, while I may not agree with McDonnell’s evolution on redistricting entirely, I completely recognize that he knows he’s is on record as not openly supporting this sort of thing in the past and he knows that he is going to take heat from both Democrats crying foul and Republicans who feel his position doesn’t align with their conservatism; it takes courage to change one’s tack.

Democrats are constantly critical of Republicans for inflexibility, but now they want to be critical of a Republican who has been thoughtful about an issue and takes a position closer to theirs?

Seems that they want to oppose just for opposition’s sake, where McDonnell is taking the approach to lead.

  • tx2vadem

    Folks who work on campaigns are going to find fault with other candidates. Some folks are going to be nasty in primaries and in the general election. This is not something unique to Democrats though. So, I think it is silly to bemoan this. Ultimately, the surprise here is what?

    As far as the redistricting idea goes, I just would like it to be more formulaic. And really, all I would like is for districts to be more compact and better represent a grouping of communities. The way districts have mangled shapes that stretch to include one community far removed from the other sets doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

  • Jim Hewitt

    So, let me get this straight. Bob moves to a position that will help to eliminate the age-old “gerrymandering” issue and he gets blasted? The fact that the Democrats, especially Deed’s Campaign, would attack Bob because he has moved to a position that they supposedly have wanted for years smacks just a little bit of hypocrisy, doesn’t it?
    I think the idea is great. Let the people help make decisions that will directly affect them for years to come. What a concept! That just might have been what our Founding Fathers were hoping would happen when they helped to establish our Country…just maybe!

  • Freddie

    My instinct is to be distrustful of bi-partisan citizen groups. They attract people who are interested in government, which means a group of almost all Democrats and a token Republican.

  • Tom

    As times change and partisanship and polarization in Washington D.C. emanating from the Oval office wafts down into Virginia, it is refreshing to see Bob McDonnell toss that aside and be a unifying force. I think it is a great idea whose time has arrived and I applaud Mr. McDonnell for his insight and leadership.

  • Same old CRAP!

    Republicans in power with redistricting coming up = Democrats wanting “Bi-Partisan” redistricting reform and guys like McDonnell rightly pointing out what an idiotic idea that is.

    Democrats in power with redistricting coming up = Republicans suddenly in love with being “Bi” , “Purple”, wanting “Change” and redistricting reform. If only redistricting reform could be “Green” somehow then it would be perfect. Let’s embrace our inner “purple” dinosaur. Deeds takes a step to point a finger at the flip flopping McDonnell copying his really bad idea. I like Deeds, but this idea is dumb. Who defines what “Bi-Partisan” means? If majority rule does, it remains partisan. If a select few just pick an opinion out of their hind quarters, the redistricters become potentially unaccountable and the definition of “Bi-partisan” becomes muddied.

    McDonnell…….this is a BAD idea. You were right the first time.
    Deeds……..this is a BAD idea and obviously a self-serving opportunity to poke at McDonnell.

  • I am in favor of efforts to make redistricting more fair. One need only look at what happened down in Texas to see gerrymandering in its worst form. Them Texans had themselves a real circus going on around this issue. I would have been willing to buy a ticket to watch those clowns in action, but I didn’t have to.

    It does not matter which party is doing the gerrymandering, it is wrong no matter which party is in power. I do not think it will ever be possible to come up with a perfect answer that will eliminate all political considerations from redistricting, but any changes that will lessen gerrymandering are desirable in my opinion.

    I applaud McDonnell’s change of position but wonder just how much this new position reflects a real change of personal opinion and how much of it is posturing to win an election.

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