WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Redistricting Effort Targets Virginia Democrats In Swing Districts

Play associated audio
The deadlocked Virginia state Senate voted 20-19 to redraw Senate districts with Sen. Henry Marsh absent, attenting the inauguration.
The deadlocked Virginia state Senate voted 20-19 to redraw Senate districts with Sen. Henry Marsh absent, attenting the inauguration.

Members of the Virginia General Assembly are considering a controversial proposal to re-draw the state Senate districts. With no public notice and no opportunity for bipartisan debate, Senate Republicans approved a bill Monday that draws new district boundaries for the state senate.

Sen. George Barker of Fairfax County currently represents parts of Prince William County and Alexandria city. He would lose those precincts under a plan now being considered to draw new Senate districts.

Barker says the reason is simple: "Political power."

The senator, a Democrat, says about 80 percent of his district would change, along with Democratic Fairfax County Senator Dave Marsen who would also lose about 80 percent of his current precincts. Fairfax County Senator Toddy Puller, also a Democrat, would lose about 70 percent of her current precincts.

"They are trying to target the Democratic senators who represent districts that are basically swing districts," Barker says.

The move outraged Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville), who believes it violates the state constitution.

"Under the constitution, you can only redistrict every 10 years and we did it back in 2011, the ramifications of something like this are far-reaching, because it suggests that you can redistrict every single year, depending on who's in power," Toscano said.

The change would also likely cost Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County) his seat. Deeds and Toscano introduced a bill to make redistricting in Virginia a non-partisan affair.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell criticized the surprise move by fellow Republicans this week but did not say whether he would veto the measure if it's approved by the House. Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw is vowing to challenge the redistricting effort in court, if it's approved by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.


French Bulldog At Heart Of New Children's Book 'Naughty Mabel'

Mabel is a naughty French bulldog at the center of a new children's book by Nathan Lane and Devlin Elliott. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Lane about his inspiration for the fictional dog.

How Do We Get To Love At 'First Bite'?

It's the season of food, and British food writer Bee Wilson has a book on how our food tastes are formed. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with her about her new book, "First Bite: How We Learn to Eat."

Snapshots 2016: Trump's Message Resonates With A Master Cabinet Maker

From time to time during this election season we'll be introducing you to ordinary people that our reporters meet out on the campaign trail. Today: a snapshot from a Donald Trump rally in New Hampshire.

What Is Li-Fi And When Will You Use It To Download Everything Faster?

Li-Fi is a lot like Wi-Fi, but it uses light to transmit data. NPR's Scott Simon speaks to the man who invented the faster alternative: Harald Haas.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.