House Speaker Bill Howell and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment have another press release out blasting the Democrats for shutting the Senate down in violation of the state constitution.
That Lieutenant Governor Northam and the Democratic leadership of the Senate would act in such a manner is outrageous. That Governor McAuliffe would applaud and celebrate unconstitutional behavior is, sadly, no longer shocking.
I can certainly understand their frustration. I may not be the biggest fan of the 1971 constitution, but that doesn’t mean I’m fond of openly violating it.
That said, the Speaker and his Republican colleagues can send a far better message to the Democrats, to Virginians as a whole, and to the three-judge panel who are about to be burdened with the task of redistricting: pass a new Congressional map anyway.
Why pass a map when it is patently obvious that the Senate Democrats and the Governor would ignore it? I see two reasons.
First, it exposes the Democrats’ talking points as complete bunk. The entire argument of the DPVA on this matter boils down to four words: “They have no map.” That excuse is flimsy enough as it is – after all, the House Committee on Elections was conducting a public hearing when the Senate shut down – but it completely vaporizes if the House passes a new map between now and September 1.
Second, it would give the judges a map with which to work. I’m all but certain that the panel is not interested in rocking the boat as much as the Governor is hoping (1 of them was fine with the map as it is anyway). Sure, they would prefer a map enacted by all of Virginia’s elected officials, but one with the backing of one legislative chambers has more political authority than starting from scratch. A House-backed map that addresses the panel’s concerns could even be enough for the judges to adopt is as their own and call it a day. At the very least, the panel is more likely to tweak what the House does than go back to square one.
I have no objection to criticizing the Democrats for running roughshod over the state constitution, but the House of Delegates can do more than that. They can expose the Democrats for the partisans they really are by passing a new map.