GA House Dem leader threatens own caucus over redistricting plan

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August 12, 2011

By David Godow

Outraged by a Republican redistricting plan that could dilute Democratic voting power in Georgia, state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), has threatened any Dems that vote for the plan with a primary challenge in 2012. Abrams, who has held the position of minority leader since November 2010, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Republican plan represented a "roll-back of voting rights in Georgia."[1]

Abrams made similar criticisms in February when a legislative redistricting committee was created without input from Democratic state legislators. Senate Democratic leader Robert Brown has also criticized what he characterized as an overly partisan process carried out without any Dem input whatsoever.

The vociferous Democrat response to redistrict plans is understandable; their weakness in both houses of the state legislature gives Republicans little incentive to bargain with them. Kennesaw State University professor Kerwin Swint, speaking to the Journal-Constitution, noted that "Democrats are in a terrible position... Even if they bent over backwards to be fair, it would still be a Republican map."[1]

Democrats only hope may be the U.S. Department of Justice, which is bound by the Voting Rights Act to review the redistricting plans of southern states every decade to ensure minority voting power is preserved. Republicans have made moves to bypass that step, hoping to send their plan to a panel of District of Columbia judges instead. It remains to be seen whether either Abrams' threat or Dem efforts to keep the redistrict plan in front of the U.S. DOJ will halt Republicans, who hold two-thirds of both legislative houses.

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