Virginia redistricting plan would shake up General Assembly

(The Center Square) – A Virginia redistricting plan drawn by court-appointed special masters would drastically reshape the House of Delegates and the Senate by pitting incumbents against each other.

The proposed redistricting plan drastically changes the districts in and around Pulaski County.

The proposed map, which must still go through public comment, would put exactly half of the state’s current lawmakers within a district where they would need to run against another incumbent. In some cases, there would be three incumbents placed in the same district. If the maps are approved as is, only about half of the current lawmakers would be able to win re-election and half of the seats would be open races.

According to an analysis from the Virginia Public Access Project, the new lines would also be favorable to Democrats.

In the Senate, there would be 17 strong Democratic holds and four districts that lean Democrat, but only 11 strong Republican holds and four districts that lean Republican. There would also be four tossups in the chamber. In the House, there would be 40 strong Democratic holds and 10 seats that lean Democrat, but only 25 strong Republican holds and 15 seats that lean Republican. There would also be 10 tossups.

The new Senate maps would only give Democrats a slight advantage when compared to the current maps by increasing the number of strongholds by one and reducing the number of seats that lean Democrat by one. It would also decrease the number of strong Republican districts by one but increase the number of districts that lean Republican by one. The number of tossups would remain the same.

For the House, the proposal would increase the number of Democratic strongholds from 32 to 40 and reduce the number of Republican strongholds from 28 to 25. There would also be 11 fewer districts that lean Democrat and four more that lean Republican. Overall, there would be 50 seats that are strong or lean toward Democrats, compared to having 53 now and there would be 40 strong or favorable Republican districts compared to the 39 they have now. There would also be 10 tossups, compared to the eight tossups now.

For the state’s 11 Congressional maps, six districts would be either strong Democratic seats or leaning Democratic seats, four would be strong or leaning Republican and one would be a tossup. The new maps would also draw Democratic incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger out of her current district.

The Virginia Supreme Court chose the special masters who would draw the lines from a list of options provided by House and Republican lawmakers. They chose one person from the Republican list and one from the Democratic list. The court was tasked with the job after a bipartisan redistricting commission failed to agree on any maps prior to their deadlines.

What it means for our area

As the house district map is drawn currently, Pulaski County would be divided into two House districts – the 42nd and 46th.

The 42nd includes all of Giles County, the eastern half of Pulaski County, all of Radford and the northwestern portion of Montgomery County – including Christiansburg.

The 46th includes all of Wythe, Smyth and Grayson Counties, the northwest corner of Carroll and the western half of Pulaski County.

To the south, District 47 would include all of Floyd County, most of Carroll and Patrick counties and the western portion of Henry County.

To the east, District 41 would include the majority of Montgomery County and the western half of Roanoke County.