Virginia Senate Republicans are considering revisiting redistricting come January. In a story by Steve Vaughan* in The Virginia Gazette, Senator Tommy Norment expresses the desire to change the lines drawn by the legislature and approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. In particular, Norment wants Williamsburg back in his district.
As if there’s not enough on the plate of the legislature this session.
This, along with the refusal of Republicans to share power in the Senate, prompted Senate Democrats to announce their intention to file suit. In a press release, Senator Dick Saslaw said, “Republicans are showing us right now that their number one priority is the accumulation and exercise of political power for their own benefit.”
At issue is the power of the Lieutenant Governor. Republicans believe he can cast a vote in certain circumstances, including the reorganization of the Senate, while Democrats believe he cannot.
This is going to be an interesting struggle. And I hope the Democrats don’t give up as easily on this as they did on the redistricting, which is what got us in this mess in the first place.
The entire press release:
Senate Democrats to File Lawsuit to Stop Republican Power Grab
Republicans Overreaching in Claiming a Majority and Seeking to Re-do Redistricting
Richmond, VA – In one of the largest power grabs in modern Virginia history, Republicans are claiming a Senate majority they did not earn and also announced they would like to “re-visit” redistricting. In response to the Republicans claiming the Lt. Governor has the authority to break a tie for re-organizing the Virginia Senate, Senate Democrats today announced they will file suit to force a ruling on the power of the Lt. Governor to break tie votes in a Senate that now has 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans.
“You would think after an extremely close election Republicans would come out with a plan that addresses jobs, education, transportation, and other issues facing Virginia families” said newly-elected Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Donald McEachin (D-Henrico). “Instead, the first thing Senate Republicans do is claim a majority they do not have and announce their intention to re-draw Senate district lines. Republicans are showing us right now that their number one priority is the accumulation and exercise of political power for their own benefit.”
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax ), said the reason for filing suit “is that according to the Virginia Constitution the Lt. Governor does not have the right to break ties in regards to re-organizing the Senate, the budget, or appointing judges. Further, the Republicans are ignoring the will of the people. Just two weeks ago, the citizens of Virginia elected 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans to the Senate. They have called for divided government and not one-party rule.”
In a media report published Saturday, Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment announced his intention to go through the re-districting process in January after a Senate redistricting plan was passed by the Republican-controlled House and a Republican Governor earlier this year.
“The Republican Senators desire to re-district again is another abuse of power plain and simple. Even Senator Norment admitted that nothing like this has been done before in Virginia, said Senator Saslaw.
Senator McEachin noted, “We have seen what happens in other states when Republicans overreach in their quest for power. Voters let them know they went too far and I think that’s what will happen again.”
*In the interest of full disclosure, Steve Vaughan is also a contributor to this blog.