Virginia's Redistricting News
(February 15, 2001 - April 10, 2001)

 

 The Washington Post: "Va. Holds Hearings On Revised Districts." April 10, 2001
 Richmond Times-Dispatch: "VA GOP redistricting plan alarms rivals." April 5, 2001
 The Washington Post: "GOP Plan Gives N.Va. 6 New Seats In Assembly." April 4, 2001
 The Washington Post: "Redistricting Ripe for Virginia GOP." April 1, 2001
 The Washington Post: "U.S. House Trio Aims To Redraw The Lines." February 15, 2001
 The Roanoke Times: "VA Democrats present their version of redistricting."  

More recent redistricting news from Virginia

Virginia redistricting news from April 11, 2001 - June 28, 2001

The Washington Post 
Va. Holds Hearings On Revised Districts;
GOP Plan for N.Va. Opposed by Democrats
Michael D. Shear
April 10, 2001

For decades, Alexandria residents could count their state senators on one hand. One finger, actually. There was only one. Now, under a Republican plan to redraw the state's political map, about two-thirds of the city would be in the 30th District, represented by Sen. Patricia S. Ticer (D-Alexandria) while the rest would go to the 35th District, represented by Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax). "We are one city. To split us up is unconscionable," said Susan B. Kellom, chairman of the Alexandria Democratic Committee.

"The interests of Fairfax and the interests of Alexandria are not the same." Republicans said their redistricting proposal is based on the growing population of Northern Virginia and would increase the region's political strength in Richmond. Democrats, a minority in the assembly and unable to control redistricting, said the Republicans' boundary lines for Alexandria are typical of a pattern statewide that would diminish the traditional influence of many jurisdictions.

Across the state last night, legislative leaders held hearings on redistricting in preparation for this week's once-a-decade session in Richmond to redraw the lines for the 100 House seats and 40 Senate seats that make up the General Assembly. Democrats said the GOP map would create too many districts that cross jurisdictional lines or divide up places that long have been considered one neighborhood, often called a "community of interest" by legislators. People who go to church or school together, or who attend the same civic association, should vote together, they said.

Republicans said their plan was driven by the 2000 Census numbers. Dividing up historical neighborhoods was kept to a minimum, they said, and districts that cross jurisdictions were proposed only where growth demanded it. "It's a matter of the math," Del. John H. "Jack" Rust Jr. (R-Fairfax) said. GOP leaders said their plan actually restores some communities that were split 10 years ago by Democrats after the 1990 Census. Fairfax City, for example, would again be represented by one state senator and one delegate under the Republican plan.

Fairfax GOP Chairman Joseph P. Underwood said some communities don't follow jurisdictional lines, and so some districts have been drawn that cross county or city boundaries on purpose. Changes to the 34th District, represented by Sen. Leslie L. Byrne (D-Fairfax), make sense in that context, he said. "The far eastern edge of Mason District [near Baileys Crossroads] has as much to do with Fairfax City as Cadillacs do with oranges," he said, referring to the district's current boundaries. And in some cases, Republicans said, the new maps would mean more clout for communities, because they would be represented by a greater number of legislators. Prince William, for example, would be represented by four state senators instead of two.

In advance of the hearings, Democrats yesterday offered their own Senate and House plans to rearrange the state's political boundaries which they said were designed to split fewer communities than the GOP plan. Under the GOP versions, Democrats cited examples in Fairfax, Prince William and Alexandria where representation would be split. Linda T. "Toddy" Puller (D), who represents southeastern Fairfax, would serve as the senator for about 60,000 Fairfax residents and about 110,000 people in Prince William under the GOP redistricting plan, which stretches her 36th House District farther south along Route 1 and Interstate 95. In Fairfax, Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D), who used to represent only Arlington, would represent some of Fairfax as well. (That move also has the effect of putting the residences of Whipple and fellow Democrat Byrne in the same district).

The change in Whipple's 31st District also split would split up the Hispanic community in Baileys Crossroads, some of which would be represented by Whipple and some by Saslaw. Whipple said speakers at previous public hearings have said they don't want their neighborhoods, cities or counties broken up. "That was something that was very clear in the public hearings," Whipple said. "They wanted their delegates and senators to be within reach. They didn't like having their political subdivisions divided."

The impact of splitting representation is often hardest on the elected official, who has to divide his or her time between two communities, Democrats said. And it can be difficult to know how to act when the two areas have different views on the same subject. Officials who represent Fairfax and Arlington, for example, have to balance the two counties' views on widening Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway. Arlington opposes it furiously, while Fairfax is on record supporting a wider highway. "When you represent more than one jurisdiction, it's really hard to stay focused," Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) said. "There are competing interests. Your time is limited. You just have to calculate what's best and let the chips fall."

Richmond Times-Dispatch
VA GOP redistricting plan alarms rivals; Democrats fear loss of seats
Tyler Whitley and Pamela Stallsmith
April 5, 2001

After complaining for 10 years that Democrats had placed them in oddly configured districts that cut across local boundaries, Republicans have proposed a redistricting plan that Democrats say slices and dices even more. Del. Marian Van Landingham, D-Alexandria, co-chairwoman of the House Privileges and Elections Committee, said the GOP House plan splits 62 counties and cities. The Democrat plan in 1991 split 58, she said. The Republican majority's Senate redistricting plan would divide 38 counties and cities, two more than the Democratic majority divided 10 years ago, Democrats said. Republicans said the two could be changed. They said they aimed at compactness and contiguity but also had to take into consideration creating districts with a roughly equal population under the Supreme Court's one-man, one-vote doctrine. Both Republican plans appear to increase GOP chances of adding to their majorities.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the House and a 22-18 edge in the Senate. The House members face election this fall; the next Senate election is in 2003. The House and Senate plans will be introduced today and voted on tomorrow in the respective election committees. Separate hearings will take place at 7 tonight before the two panels to allow individuals to comment on the plans, or any others introduced.

The Senate plan creates two open seats in Republican-leaning areas of Northern Virginia and creates difficult re-election chances for three Democratic incumbents, Sens. R. Edward Houck of Spotsylvania County, W. Roscoe Reynolds of Henry and Linda T. Puller of Fairfax. "I lost my head, my feet and a big gash out of my gut," said Houck, referring to the new configuration of his 17th District. Sen. Leslie L. Byrne, D-Fairfax, who was put into a district with Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, D-Arlington, said the Republican plan "balkanizes" Northern Virginia.

One of the new Northern Virginia districts reportedly was drawn for Del. Jeannemarie A. Devolites, R-Fairfax, to run in. Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Hanover, said political gerrymandering was not the goal. "After Democrats gerrymandered the Senate districts 10 years ago, we increased our numbers from eight to 22," he said. "If we do it right, we will fare okay."

Under the House plan, a source said, Republicans could pick up as many as 10 more seats over the next decade, cementing their majority in the House. Six of the newly configured House seats are considered "highly likely" to favor Republicans, while another four seats "are doable when they become open," the source said. House Democrats intend to come back with a plan of their own to counter what they decry as a proposal crafted in secrecy and shrouded in politics. "They've got some significant problems in terms of whether [the GOP plan] will pass constitutional muster," said House Minority Leader C. Richard Cranwell, D-Roanoke County, who was dropped into the same district as Del. A. Victor Thomas, D-Roanoke.

"There's a lot of political packing and gerrymandering." That will continue regardless of which party holds power, according to one analyst. "Gerrymandering hasn't changed very much since Governor [Elbridge] Gerry invented it in Massachusetts in the early years of the republic," said Larry Sabato, a political expert at the University of Virginia.

"The Senate took care of incumbents, the House took care of party needs," Sabato said of the proposals. "In the House there's some blood on the floor - quite a bit - but not as much as in'91." Under the Republican plan, Richmond would have an open seat because two city delegates would be placed in the same district. Democrat Franklin P. Hall's home precinct would be moved into the expanded district of Republican Anne G. Rhodes, whose area now just includes parts of the city and Henrico County. Hall told The Times-Dispatch on Tuesday that he would move to stay in the 69th District, which is one of 12 black majority seats in the House. Hall is one of three white lawmakers who now represent predominantly black districts.

Rhodes said her current district has more interests in common than the proposed one, but she raised no great objections to the proposal. Rhodes, who has often found herself at odds with the GOP hierarchy, is miffed because the Republican leadership did not consult her on the configuration of the proposed district. The House plan puts one of the most powerful Democrats, Del. V. Earl Dickinson of Louisa County, in a district that includes the western part of Henrico. "Are there any farms in that district?" asked the 29-year House veteran, who represents a largely rural district.

Both the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union said they had concerns about the GOP plans. In a letter sent yesterday to the chairmen of the election committees, the civil rights group wrote that it was worried about the lack of a black majority district in fast-growing Northern Virginia. Those districts are now found in Southside, Hampton Roads and the Richmond area. Kent Willis, director of the ACLU of Virginia, said, "We have been looking at a draft plan for several weeks but had nothing to compare it to. Now there is essentially one day to prepare an appropriate response, and that is simply not enough time."

Many Republicans welcomed their new districts. "This is 100 times better," said Del. Harvey B. Morgan, R-Gloucester, who said the proposal makes his Middle Peninsula district more geographically whole by picking up Middlesex County and dropping parts of Poquoson and York and Caroline counties. "This is really good for the people, whether I'm here or not."

The Washington Post
GOP Plan Gives N.Va. 6 New Seats In Assembly;
Growth in Suburbs Bolsters Republicans

R.H. Melton
April 4, 2001

General Assembly leaders issued redistricting plans today that would add six legislative seats in fast-growing Northern Virginia, a historic increase that could enhance Republicans' suburban strength and the region's political clout in its struggle for more state budget dollars. As lawmakers returned to the capital for a one-day veto session Wednesday and six days of redistricting, the Washington area emerged as the big beneficiary of new political boundaries for House of Delegates and state Senate seats, reflecting both the 2000 Census and the GOP's near-absolute control of Virginia politics.

The six seats -- three in the House and three in the Senate -- will spring up largely along the region's western and southern rim. Three of the districts are new, with no incumbents, and were created by taking seats from other parts of the state. The other three districts were on the far outskirts of Northern Virginia and under the plan would be pushed into Prince William and Loudoun counties.

Republicans cheered the new districts as fertile fields for the low-tax, smaller-government GOP message that has transformed politics in Virginia and much of the South in recent years. "I'm happy, from the big-picture perspective of Northern Virginia," said Del. John H. "Jack" Rust Jr. (R-Fairfax), who reconfigured the area's two dozen House seats. State Sen. William C. Mims (R), another GOP draftsman whose home county of Loudoun was the region's growth engine, agreed: "Numbers count."

For Republicans, who captured the legislature in 1999 after enduring decades of Democratic rule, issuing the political maps that could help the GOP consolidate power for years to come was an occasion to savor -- and flaunt before their old masters, who once penalized them every 10 years during redistricting. During one organizational meeting this morning, Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (R-Fairfax) urged his Democratic colleagues to stop whining about the GOP's redistricting plans, saying: "I am amazed and somewhat chagrined by the crocodile tears I'm hearing from the other end of the table! We're doing it right!" For every gleeful Callahan -- his affluent district along the Potomac River probably will become even more Republican -- there were three or four Democrats feeling some partisan pain.

As expected, Republicans unceremoniously merged several high-profile Democrats, including Mary Margaret Whipple (Arlington), the party's Senate leader, into new districts with at least one other Democratic incumbent, forcing a showdown between old comrades. State Sen. Leslie L. Byrne (D-Fairfax), who was shoehorned into Whipple's district, said she has time before the Senate elections in 2003 to consider her three options: challenge Whipple, run for an open seat or retire. "I don't get upset about things I can't control," Byrne said.

 Virginia Republicans have made impressive gains in recent years, controlling the governorship since 1994 and unseating a Democratic U.S. senator last year, and the state's first modern GOP redistricting could leave an indelible mark on state politics. Virginia is home to 7.08 million people, according to the 2000 Census, and 28 percent of them live in Northern Virginia. The assembly has said the ideal House district should have 71,000 people, while a Senate district should number 177,000. The decade's stunning growth has pushed incumbents in Loudoun, western Fairfax and central Prince William way over their target numbers.

The new districts are being created in what are fast emerging as Republican zones along the Interstate 95 corridor and the perimeter of the Washington metropolitan region, which in turn could help produce a GOP farm team of young candidates for local, legislative and statewide offices. With so much potentially at stake, House Speaker S. Vance Wilkins Jr. (R-Amherst) was unapologetic today about the GOP's determination to push through its redistricting plan largely untouched during an assembly session that starts Thursday and is expected to last through next Wednesday. "There certainly must be political motives in every plan that ever existed," Wilkins told reporters. "I'd be telling you a damn lie if I didn't say that."

On the Senate side, Mims, who once represented all of Loudoun, will see his 33rd District shrink down to the county's populous eastern end, while a rural Republican will likely pick up Loudoun's western half as part of a redesigned 27th District that runs out to the West Virginia line. A new Senate seat, the 39th District, will link the midsection of Fairfax County, including the giant Kingstowne development, and a portion of Prince William County. Byrne's old district, the 34th, while not technically new, will be an open seat in 2003. "They want to get rid of the strong women in the Senate, and this is the easiest way to do it," Byrne said.

The new House seats, which will be on the Nov. 6 election ballot, include the 86th District, straddling the Fairfax-Loudoun line near Dulles International Airport; the 31st, which includes a midsection of Prince William and neighboring Fauquier; and the 88th District, linking portions of Stafford, Spotsylvania and Fauquier counties into one Republican-leaning boomtown. Some Democrats warned today that even though Republicans had carefully preserved several majority-black districts, the overall redistricting plan almost certainly will face a legal challenge, either on general fairness grounds or because it adhered to a strict method of counting population favored by the national GOP.

Several Northern Virginians also complained that the region's new districts run the risk of diluting the legislative strength of individual jurisdictions. A record number of lawmakers will represent both Arlington and Fairfax counties in Richmond, lawmakers said. Still, there was widespread agreement that the GOP redistricting will survive the week largely intact. "It's the messiest thing we do every 10 years, but we gotta do it," Byrne said. During the veto session Wednesday, lawmakers will address seven bills they approved this year, but which Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) has nullified. They will consider the governor's amendments to 90 other measures.

  

The Washington Post
Redistricting Ripe for Virginia GOP;
But Shuffle Could Create Rifts and Hurt Bipartisan Efforts in D.C. Suburbs
R.H. Melton
April 1, 2001

The lines that state lawmakers will draw through the vote-rich precincts of Northern Virginia this week could write Steven D. Whitener's ticket to the General Assembly. At age 44, Whitener, a California transplant to Loudoun County by way of Fairfax, embodies the conservative Republicanism that is flourishing on the region's rim and might grow even stronger when the Virginia General Assembly realigns the districts of 100 state delegates and 40 senators to reflect the 2000 Census. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see there's going to be a big chunk of voters who will get a new voice in Richmond," said Whitener, who hopes to run for the House in a new Loudoun-Fairfax district around Sterling and Herndon. "It's a change from when the liberal, Democrat good ol' boys were in charge."

While Virginia has no real liberal tradition, its Democratic heritage has indeed withered in the 10 years since the last redistricting, as the South's suburban Republican tide washed over the Old Dominion. For the first time, the GOP controls both chambers of the legislature, the governorship, two U.S. Senate seats and two other statewide offices. Yet, even as Republicans wield unprecedented power over all-important redistricting, party leaders and some experts warn that the process might heighten tensions between younger conservatives such as Whitener and older GOP moderates such as longtime Herndon Mayor Thomas D. Rust, 59, who also plans to run in the GOP primary for a new seat. Reshuffling the regional deck of legislators could also further strain bipartisanship in a Northern Virginia delegation that fell apart last session trying to win assembly approval of new taxes for transportation and schools, lawmakers said.

"We'll pick up seats and the Democrats'll pick up seats, but I hope we pick up some people who are motivated to solve problems," said seven-term Del. John A. "Jack" Rollison III (R-Prince William), who led the region's struggle to boost the sales tax. So far, Republicans from Gov. James S. Gilmore III on down say the GOP's redistricting will be fairer than the Democrat-controlled process of 1991, which would help minimize internal strife and any chance for a legal challenge by Democrats or minority voters.

"The districts, at this point, will not look as strange and gerrymandered as they did 10 years ago -- at least I hope not," Gilmore said. The redistricting session will start Thursday and will last several days as lawmakers pore over, revise and vote on the block-by-block configurations of new districts. Gilmore has veto power over the plan, and the U.S. Justice Department will review it for fairness to majority-black districts. The 1991 redistricting was brutal on the General Assembly's Republican minorities. In Northern Virginia alone, Democrats threw six GOP House incumbents together into three districts to force some early retirements. But six new districts that were drawn to reflect the phenomenal growth of Fairfax and Prince William counties proved to be fertile GOP territory: Republicans hold most of those today.

In Virginia and Maryland, growth during the 1990s was predominantly in the Washington suburbs. Northern Virginia now is home to 28 percent of the state's 7.08 million people. The outer suburbs grew the fastest. This year, it's Loudoun County's turn in the spotlight. One of the fastest-growing counties in the nation, Loudoun doubled in size to 170,000 people and is at the top of the legislature's list for at least one new delegate and a new senator. The assembly has said the ideal House district should have 71,000 people, while a Senate district should number 177,000.

The decade's stunning growth has pushed incumbents in Loudoun, western Fairfax and central Prince William way over their target numbers. For instance, Del. Richard H. Black (R), of Sterling -- whose finger-shaped district traces the Potomac River from north of Leesburg to the Fairfax County line -- has 56,000 more people than he should. Similarly, state Sen. William C. Mims (R), of Leesburg, has 86,000 more than his target number, according to General Assembly staff.

To Republicans, the population surge equals new GOP voters. "They are realizing the American dream," said Black, 56, a leader on the party's social agenda, notably limits on abortion. "They're well educated, reasonably well-off financially, but not wealthy. These voters are more receptive to a message of family values and conservatism."

Whitener, Black's top aide for two years, has a party pedigree that rivals his boss's. He was lured here from Los Angeles in 1985 by Morton C. Blackwell of Arlington, a longtime Republican National Committee member, who made Whitener programs director at the Leadership Institute for young conservatives. After stints in the Reagan administration's legal services agency and the Education Department, Whitener taught at Fairfax Christian School for eight years, winning the first of two terms on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in 1991. He later lost a primary bid for local revenue commissioner. "I understand how both the county works and Richmond works and how to get things done," he said.

Whitener and other activists believe that one of the new Northern Virginia House districts will be anchored in the Fairfax County town of Herndon, stretching westward into Loudoun to pick up voters on the fringes of Dulles International Airport. A Herndon anchor could well boost Rust, a civil engineer with strong ties to the GOP establishment in Fairfax as well as statewide figures such as Gilmore and U.S. Sen. George Allen (R), who as governor named Rust to the Virginia Tech board. Gilmore reappointed him, and Rust is now Tech's vice rector.

 Like its neighbor Loudoun, Herndon has blossomed into a high-technology hub. "I don't think of myself as a small-town mayor," Rust said. Though quite different ideologically, Rust, who has a long record in regional transportation planning, and Whitener, who chaired his county board's transportation committee, agree that the new House seat would add another voice to a regional delegation that has made increased funding for roads and transit its top priority.

"The region has got to work together," Rust said. Added Whitener: "I've always been uncomfortable about creating this huge difference between Loudoun and Fairfax. They're communities of interest." Rolland D. Winter, the Democratic chairman in Loudoun, said that while a regionalism message also works for his party's candidates, Democratic activists will focus more on bread-and-butter concerns such as education, gun control and the environment when courting the county's many newcomers this fall. "A lot of people moving in are just automatically Republican -- they have been a challenge," Winter said. But, he added, "Democrats reach for the center. The Virginia Democrat is a fiscal conservative. We feel we have a good solid message for these folks. They are something we shoot for."


 

The Washington Post
U.S. House Trio Aims To Redraw The Lines; Incumbents' Seats Could Become Safer
R.H. Melton
February 15, 2001
 
Northern Virginia's three congressmen have tentatively agreed on new boundaries for their districts that, if approved by the General Assembly, could mean their seats are safe for years to come, according to Democratic and Republican party sources. The region's two Republicans, Rep. Frank R. Wolf, of the 10th District, and Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, of the 11th District, and Democratic Rep. James P. Moran Jr., of the 8th District, met privately on Capitol Hill this month to sketch out districts that will be officially drawn by the General Assembly this spring.
 
The three congressmen declined to comment today on the meeting, as did another participant, J. Kenneth Klinge, of Arlington, a longtime GOP operative who is the designated go-between for the House members and the Republican-controlled legislature in Richmond. Davis and Klinge did say today that the three veteran House members have frequently set aside their political differences to work on Washington area transportation issues such as the Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement and Metro funding. "Jim and Frank and I have worked about as well together as any three members anywhere in the country," Davis said during a luncheon interview with Washington Post editors and reporters. "We all recognize we may all be here for a few more terms, having to work together."
 
Virginia will be one of the first states to use new data from the 2000 Census to redistrict legislative and congressional seats, probably in a special session this spring. The Wolf and Moran districts are the region's bookends, with Davis's wedged between them in a squiggle. To the west, Wolf has most of Prince William County, part of Fairfax County and all of Loudoun County; to the east, Moran has a piece of Fairfax and the heavily Democratic precincts of Arlington and Alexandria. Davis's district dominates Fairfax and snakes southward to include a piece of Prince William County.
 
Davis stressed today that any discussions with his two colleagues were very informal and subject to the ultimate authority of the General Assembly and Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R). Having said that, Davis said one scenario could have him picking up some of Moran's territory in the Springfield and Lorton areas and relinquishing to the Democrat some precincts around Falls Church. A Republican who asked not to be identified said the three House members had reviewed one possible Moran district that would stretch like a spoon from Alexandria to Reston.
 
The spoon's "handle" would be one-precinct thick in some places and then widen in Reston to pick up three Democratic precincts that Davis would happily do without, this GOP source said. "None of us are endangered in these seats even with the current district," Davis said at the Post luncheon. "But obviously, you want to make yourself more comfortable." "We're getting a lot of advice from Richmond, but we're trying to at least tell them what's viable and what isn't viable, personally," Davis added. Staff writer Spencer S. Hsu contributed to this report.
 
Census Bureau officials are nearing a decision on whether the accuracy of the door-to-door count would be improved by adjusting it with a statistical sample of households to compensate for people who are missed. Republicans oppose census sampling, calling it illegal and saying it will add "virtual people" to the count for Democratic benefit. Democrats say sampling is scientifically sound and protects the rights of minorities, who are disproportionately likely to be missed by the door-to-door tally. President Bush has said he prefers the actual head count, but has not said whether his administration would try to block the release of adjusted numbers by the Census Bureau. Lawsuits are expected no matter which set of numbers is used.
 
The compromise recently proposed by some Republicans would use raw numbers for redistricting and adjusted numbers to distribute funding. After an oversight hearing by the House census subcommittee that he chairs, Rep. Dan Miller (R-Fla.) said he would be "willing to explore" that issue. He accused Democrats of "cheap shots, race-baiting and name calling" on the sampling issue.
 
At a news conference, groups representing blacks, Asian Americans and Hispanics also criticized the proposal yesterday. Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, called it "incredibly hypocritical" to be willing to use the adjusted numbers for one purpose, but not another. "It's almost as if they are trying to buy off the cities and others who have a lot to lose" if adjusted figures are not used to allocate federal funding, said Karen Narasaki, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium.
 
The political bickering came as the Census Bureau officially reported the first preliminary results from its accuracy-check of the 2000 Census using statistical sampling. The net undercount narrowed from 1990 -- for the nation and for racial minority groups -- but millions of people were left out, Acting Census Director William G. Barron told the hearing.
 
 
The Roanoke Times

 

VA Democrats present their version of redistricting; Republican leaders said population growth in Northern Virginia forced them to take seats away from Western Virginia.
Michael Sluss
 
Democrats in the General Assembly unveiled proposed legislative district boundaries Monday that would preserve Southwest Virginia's seats in the state Senate and protect incumbents in the House of Delegates. But because Republicans control the state's once-a-decade redistricting process, the Democratic blueprints appear destined for defeat when they come before key House and Senate committees today.
 
The committees are scheduled to approve plans that will go to the full House and Senate for debate Wednesday. The Republicans, who hold majorities in both houses, released their redistricting proposals last week. Those plans would force seven Western Virginia Democrats into three House districts and eliminate a Senate seat held by Democrat Madison Marye of Shawsville. The Roanoke Valley would lose one House seat, and the rest of Southwest Virginia would lose another under the GOP proposals.
 
Republican leaders said population growth in Northern Virginia forced them to develop plans that take seats away from Western Virginia and leave two or more incumbents in the same district. Few Democrats were surprised when Republicans put House Minority Leader Richard Cranwell of Vinton in a district with Del. Clifton "Chip" Woodrum of Roanoke. But they complained loudly about GOP plans to draw a single district around House Democrats Creigh Deeds of Warm Springs and Jim Shuler of Blacksburg and another around Tom Jackson of Hillsville, Barnie Day of Patrick County and Ward Armstrong of Henry County. Democrats tried to stem some of those potential losses.
 
Their plans put Cranwell in a district with Del. Vic Thomas of Roanoke, whom many expect to retire this year. Democrats protected the rest of their Western Virginia incumbents, but did draw a single district around Lynchburg Republicans Kathy Byron and Preston Bryant. Democratic leaders took their plans to public hearings held Monday night at five sites around the state.
 
Del. William Robinson, D-Norfolk, said Democrats used "traditional Virginia redistricting criteria" to draw districts "that do not split communities and dilute voter strength like the plans the Republicans have offered." Robinson drafted the House plan, and Sens. Yvonne Miller of Norfolk and Mary Margaret Whipple of Arlington created the Senate proposal. In the Senate, Democrats crafted a plan that preserves the seat held by Marye, the state's senior senator.
 
Republicans dismantled the district and distributed portions of it to surrounding districts with smaller populations. By eliminating Marye's seat, Republicans were able to create a new Senate district in Northern Virginia. Democrats decided to eliminate a seat in the Shenandoah Valley and put Republican incumbents Kevin Miller of Harrisonburg and Russell Potts of Winchester into one district. The 100 House and 40 Senate districts drawn by Democrats all have populations that fall within 3.3 percent of their target sizes. Based on new U.S. census figures, the target population for each House district is 70,785, and each Senate district's is 176,963. The proposed Republican districts have populations that fall within 2 percent of the targets.
 

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