Of all the under-handed, sneaky operations, this is one of the worst. While the rest of the country watched Barack Obama get sworn in for a second term, Republicans in the Virginia legislature wormed a gerrymandering bill through the state senate. The bill will redistrict the state’s senate seats to favor…wait for it… the Republicans! Imagine that.
According to blogger Ben Tribbett, who updated the story several times on Facebook yesterday, this will cost the Democrats a seat in the State Senate if it stands. Current Democratic State Senator Creigh Deeds of the 25th district would end up in the very red 24th district, which is represented now by Emmet Hanger. The district(s) includes Augusta and Bath counties as well as parts of Charlottesville.
What makes this even more despicable is that Democratic Senator Henry Marsh was in Washington D.C. attending the inauguration. He was reached by phone and told about the trick, declining to comment until he came home. Had Marsh been present, the 20-19 vote would have been tied. Many posit that the tie would have been resolved by Lt. Governor Bill Bolling in the GOP’s favor anyway, but a spokesperson for Mr. Bolling tweeted that he would not have done so, saying that he “… has grave concerns…” about the bill. Reportedly, even Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is angry over the deceitful tactic. His spokesperson, Tucker Martin said that the governor was very surprised to learn of the vote and has not seen the bill, noting that redistricting was not on the governor’s agenda.
Blue Virginia blogger lowkell watched the live feed from the Virginia Senate chambers, reporting that Democratic Senators Saslaw and McEachin tried in vain to stop the procedure:
“After Ben’s first Facebook notice, I went to the live feed of the Virginia State Senate and watched as Sen. Saslaw, Sen. McEachin (“This is sneaky, this is underhanded, and it’s beneath the dignity of the Senate”), Sen. Marsden and Sen. Barker went ape**** on the Republicans for what they said was a totally underhanded, unconstitutional move that will utterly poison relations in the Virginia State Senate. The fact that Republicans pulled this underhanded maneuver while most people were focused on the inauguration and Democratic State Senator Marsh was out of town (for the inauguration) really says it all. Wow… Bizarrely, right after the coup, Sen. Deeds inexplicably started rambling on about a Confederate general (Stonewall Jackson) and how he loved “peaches,” “lemons,” and “women.” WTF?”
Daily Kos blogger David Waldman writes:
“Today, the Virginia Senate Republicans play all out constitutional hardball on the rules. And tomorrow, Republicans will be pleading with Democrats for a “go slow” approach, bipartisan compromise, or just shrieking “power grab!” when the U.S. Senate takes up filibuster reform. They’re pissing on your leg and telling you it’s raining, senators. Look alive.”
There has been some discussion of the state’s constitution allowing for redistricting every 10 years, in years ending in a one. Apparently, Tom DeLay addressed this many years ago, saying that while the federal Constitution does lay out a minimum time limit, it doesn’t say anything about redistricting more often than that. Though no current state Senators would lose their seats and a special election is not required right now, these new boundaries will be in play in 2015. Democrats will take this to court, bet on it.
This is how the Republicans held the House in the 2012 election despite losing the popular vote by over one million votes. This is how they cheat. They take gerrymandering districts to ridiculous heights to favor their candidates. They’re preparing to manipulate electoral votes where ever they can. They can’t win on the issues and they know it so they rig elections like a third world banana republic. It’s contemptible and unworthy of this great nation.
T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…