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Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are responding to an unexpected redistricting measure passed yesterday by the Virginia state senate. Virginia Senate Republicans pushed through the measure while one Democrat was absent — giving the GOP a 20 to 19 majority. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has criticized the move, and as The Hill's Alex Bolton explain, now the commonwealth's U.S. Senators are doing the same.
What are you hearing from Virginia's U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine?
"Kaine and Warner are very upset. It's unusual on U.S. senators to weigh in on state political battles, but that's exactly what is happening here. Kaine and Warner put out a joint statement today urging legislative leaders and other elected officials to do the right thing. To correct what they are calling a disappointing and disruptive partisan action. They say the redistricting move was completely out of step with the inauguration — a day when Americans were celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and the inauguration of the nation's first black President. Of course, this move happened when Senator Henry Marsh, a black state senator from Northern Virginia and a long-time civil rights leader, was celebrating in Washington. Democrats say this is a dirty trick and Kaine and Warner are upset enough to get involved, but they say they want Gov. McDonnell to do something about this."
How unusual is it for U.S. Senators to weigh in on statehouse politics?
"It's quite unusual. It's something you rarely hear mentioned in the U.S. Capitol, where the emphasis is usually on deficit reduction or tax reform or spending bills. The fact that Kaine and Warner, two Democratic Senators who aren't very partisan, are getting involved in a messy partisan battle on the state level shows how unusual this redistricting move was."
How significant would the changes in this bill be for Virginia?
"Quite significant. There are five senate districts which are now represented by Democrats which would be made heavily Republican as a result of the redistricting. Also, Creigh Deeds, a Democratic Senator from Bath would be put in the same district as Emmett Hanger Jr. a Republican. Deeds, as you may remember, had the Democratic gubernatorial nomination the last time, so what Republicans are trying to do is knock off a pretty important Democratic legislator."