As State Dems Celebrate Redistricting Ruling, Congressional Dems Stew

There was much celebration yesterday among Democratic circles when a surprise verdict tossed Virginia’s Congressional redistricting map. Dem pundits are already speculating over purple seats, a more balanced Congressional delegation, swapping maps for Medicare expansion, and a litany of other far away pipe dreams.

Left unmentioned in all of this?

How pissed off Bobby Scott, Gerry Connolly and a Representative To Be Named Later (Don Beyer, most likely) have to be.

If you recall the redistricting battles in Richmond the last cycle, the ‘easiest’ battle was the Congressional map. Sure, State Senate Democrats floated a plan by Mamie Locke, which would boost the 4th District’s chances of flipping Dem, but that bill was tabled and ignored until the State Senate flipped Republican in 2011. Then, we found out what the Congressional representatives really wanted.

Incumbent protection.

In a stunning display of bipartisan agreement, both the 8 GOP Representatives and the 3 Democratic representatives let the General Assembly privately know their support General Assembly’s incumbent protection plan. The GOP would sacrifice future competitive races in the 11th, benefitting Gerry Connolly, in return for shoring up precincts in the 2nd, benefitting Scott Rigell.

Everyone, including the 3 Democratic representatives agreed with the plan. Bobby Scott would take in more precincts, boosting the African-American majority district higher, and everything’s good to go.

That is, before two constituents filed a lawsuit, judges shockingly agreed with them, and now everyone’s in a tizzy.

So before Democrats start praying to the heavens that this opens the floodgates and finally gives them momentum, be very careful what you wish for.

Scott Rigell has turned into one of the best representatives in Congress, a rare open-minded one, who’s willing to work both sides of the aisle, defend and fight for veterans and our military, while also eschewing the zealousness of the House GOP, beating his own pragmatic path. There’s a reason he coasted to victory in 2010 and 2012, and is on the path to an easy reelection this year, and it’s not redistricting. He’s a great Representative, who in any map redrawing would remain highly probable for winning.

Conversely, Gerry Connolly has been largely absent from high-proflie initiatives, yet remains safe in reelection largely due to the redistricting plans.

Despite the attention on the 3rd District, you can be assured that the horse-trading that takes place in redistricting will ripple throughout the state, as Norm points out. Any trade-off from the 3rd will almost certainly require the 11th becoming much more Republican, and leading to biennial election battles in Northern Virginia, the most expensive market in the state.

Gerry Connolly certainly doesn’t want $5 to $10 million dollar races every other year. Neither does the DCCC.

So while the current panel found 2-1 for the current map to be racial in nature, fully expect an appeal from Mark Herring. This was more about incumbent protection, which, as noted in the dissent, is legal in the U.S. and through the Voting Rights Act.

So while State Dems may be crowing now, don’t be surprised if come next spring, nothing significantly changes. There was a reason Democratic representatives supported the existing map wholeheartedly in 2012, and despite the court ruling, their feelings haven’t changed, something that you can be sure will be relayed to Terry McAuliffe.

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