Governor Bob McDonnell is not at all pleased with a redistricting change supported by his fellow Republicans in the Virginia State Senate. Governor McDonnell says the surprise change is not a good way to conduct business. Republicans senate members voted 20-19 to create an additional majority minority district between Petersburg and Danville. Opponents say the move redraws the 2011 Senate district boundaries, giving the GOP a bigger advantage in at least three other districts.
The Senate redistricting bill was voted on Monday’s state and federal holiday. The democrats were missing one vote and that was the vote of Senator Henry Marsh, lll. Senator Marsh has been a civil rights attorney for over 50 years and was selected the first African American Mayor for the city of Richmond in 1977.
My series “Keeping An Eye on the G-A” continues with comments from Senator Marsh on the sneak attack. I asked him was the redistricting measure constitutional? Senator Marsh said “it’s not constitutional because the bill was a house bill and had no senate seats in it. There were house districts that wanted to be tweaked a little bit. They (house) could not redistrict again because it was done in 2011.” He said the motion on redistricting was a surprise to the democrats and was debated on for 45 minutes amending the House bill HB 259 to a Senate bill.
View HB 259 , house and senate votes and track all legislation at Richmond Sunlight
Listen to my interview with Virginia Senator Henry L. Marsh, lll on the redistricting measure without his vote.
From the desk of Senator Henry L. Marsh, lll:
RICHMOND, VA — Senator Henry L. Marsh (D-Richmond) made the following statement in response to the Senate Republican’s forcing through a partisan redistricting plan.
Republicans waited until Senator Marsh, a legendary Virginia civil rights hero and a 22 year veteran of the Senate, was away at President Obama‘s inauguration to slam this bill through the Senate on a 20-19 vote.
The first African-American mayor of Richmond, Senator Marsh was a leading Virginia civil rights lawyer, trying scores of school desegregation and employment discrimination cases, representing thousands of African-American clients.
“I was outraged and I was saddened yesterday afternoon to learn that the Senate Republicans had used my absence to force through radical changes to all 40 Senate districts.”
“I wanted to attend the historic second inauguration of President Obama in person. For Senate Republicans to use my absence to push through a partisan redistricting plan that hurts voters across the state is shameful.
“I’ve been a lawyer for over 50 years, and I’m certain these changes are unconstitutional. Also, allowing this to stand would mean that the people of Virginia could be subjected to ten different redistricting plans in a decade.”
“I’ve been a fighter for civil rights even longer, and I’m certain that — despite what Republicans may claim — this plan is a massive step backwards for the cause to which I have dedicated my life.”