New congressional districts — and why Buckhead will remain Democratic territory

Fresh from rescuing the nation from economic calamity, Georgia’s members of Congress will spend the next few weeks indulging in self-preservation.

We are 10 days away from a special session of the Legislature assigned the task of redrawing Georgia’s political boundaries.

Georgia's congressional districts, as currently drawn

Georgia's congressional districts, as currently drawn

Americans often think of democracy as the process by which voters pick their leaders. Redistricting is the B-side of that record —the once-in-a-decade chance for many incumbent politicians to pick their voters, and thus preserve their hold on power.

This is the first time in Georgia history that Republicans will have start-to-finish control of the process, which will be primarily, but not entirely, driven by last year’s census.

Under Democratic rule, GOP lawmakers criticized a process that was ruthless and secretive. Republicans promise to conduct themselves more openly. But score-settling will still be the rule — and the targets won’t always be Democratic.

When they arrive in Atlanta, state lawmakers will first draw new boundaries for themselves. House and Senate members are already being summoned to the Capitol for glimpses of their new districts.

Those lawmakers who represent depopulated South Georgia are most nervous. In the House, word from the coast is that, in a preliminary draft, state Rep. Mark Hatfield, a very conservative Republican from Ware County, has been paired in the same district with Jason Spencer, a Republican from more populated Camden County.

The fact that Hatfield last year pushed legislation to force President Barack Obama to make public his birth certificate, even as Georgia Republicans were pressing the White House for federal cash to dredge the Port of Savannah, obviously has nothing to do with the cartographer’s decision.

In the Senate, Democrat George Hooks of Americus, the chamber’s longest-serving member and occupant of the seat once held by Jimmy Carter, has a target painted on his back. “This’ll be my sixth time. It’s always an iffy thing, particularly in rural Georgia. This isn’t my first rodeo,” he said.

Only after local housekeeping is finished will our Republican-dominated Legislature move on to its most important business — the redrawing of the state’s congressional districts. The goal will be to reinforce the GOP majority in the U.S. House for the next 10 years.

Figures close to the congressional redistricting process, who aren’t authorized to speak on the topic, have sketched out some highlights to watch for:

– Lawmakers will be asked to squeeze a new, 14th congressional district into the state, to reflect Georgia’s growing population. But it won’t actually be called the 14th. It will be called the new 9th, and it will have a Gainesville base — a move that no doubt reflects the sentiment of Gov. Nathan Deal, who held the seat until last year.

– John Barrow of Savannah, the last white Democrat from the Deep South in Congress, will be the focus of major attention. In 2006, Republicans forced Barrow, a native of Athens, to shift his residence by cutting Clarke County out of his 12th District.

They could now try to exile him from Savannah as well — if Republican Jack Kingston is willing to accept Democrat-laden north Chatham County into his district. But that’s a hard sell.

– Sanford Bishop, the Albany Democrat who narrowly escaped defeat in 2010, could come out of redistricting stronger — by picking up African-American voters in Macon and the surrounding area. That in turn, would strengthen the re-election chances of GOP rookie Austin Scott of Tifton in his 8th District.

– Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, wants his 7th District to include the whole of Gwinnett County. But Gwinnett’s rapidly changing demographics could preclude that.

– The top priority of Phil Gingrey, the Republican from Marietta, is the retention of Rome and Floyd County in his 11th District. This is another difficult task, given that U.S. Tom Graves’ district — which will be re-christened the new 14th — will have to shift south.

The population-shy 5th District of Democrat John Lewis, dominated by Atlanta, will likely expand eastward into DeKalb County. Likewise, the 4th District of Democrat Hank Johnson may be diverted eastward into Rockdale and Newton counties.

– U.S. Rep. Tom Price of the 6th District currently represents Cherokee County, the whole of north Fulton County, and slices of both Cobb and DeKalb counties. Look for Price to be drawn out of Cherokee, and further into DeKalb — perhaps down to Dunwoody.

Now, you would think that, if Republicans really wanted to condense Price’s district, they could simply push the Roswell congressman’s district into Sandy Springs and Buckhead. This won’t happen, for three reasons:

– Lewis, a civil rights-era hero, wants to represent the whole of Atlanta. Aggravating him won’t help if there is a race-based court challenge to the new lines;

– Putting Buckhead in the 6th District would make Price the congressman who represents the governor and his West Paces Ferry Road abode. But Price supported GOP rival Karen Handel in the 2010 primary;

– Most importantly, by allowing Buckhead to remain in the hands of a Democrat, every Republican member of Congress in the state will consider Georgia’s largest cache of wealthy voters to be fair game for campaign cash. Buckhead, in essence, would remain an open city for fund-raising.

What — you thought these lines were about you?

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

46 comments Add your comment

Just Nasty & Mean

August 3rd, 2011
6:38 pm

Jim, I think your map is WAY off! I think the 9th will be concentrated in the NorthWest, and the new strong conservative district will represent the highest growth areas of the state–Cherokee, Hall and Forsyth and the Northeast. Whoever wins that congressional seat will be a shoe-in for a long-long—–long time!

Mr. KnowitAll

August 3rd, 2011
6:43 pm

I cannot imagine they would push Price into Buckhead. Bedroom communities in N. Fulton, Cobb, Cherokee have

Mr. KnowitAll

August 3rd, 2011
6:54 pm

I cannot imagine they would push Price into Buckhead. Bedroom communities in N. Fulton, Cobb, Cherokee–with the pickup trucks and feed stores—have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING of a community nor common interest in Buckhead’s urban, high-rise condo and offices, concern w/ mass transit, Atlanta taxes, high-falootin’ big-city BMW/Mercedes lifestyle. They are non-comparable with absolutely NOTHING in common. And anybody that says differently is a dumb mass OR a lawyer/ lobbyist paid to say so.

Plus—they hate each others guts to the point N. Fulton is trying to secede and form their own county. If you know ANYTHING about this area, you’d have to be stupid to think that is a good idea!

Putting them together would be like mixing gas and a lit match.

Besides, I hear the people of Buckhead like John Lewis and think he represents them just fine.


August 3rd, 2011
6:56 pm

Darn! The liberals are becoming less & less important in this state.

Barnes for Governor in 2014!

Sick of Republicans

August 3rd, 2011
6:57 pm

Fran Millar wants nothing more than to shove Price down our throats. We are happy with Hank Johnson who actually takes the time to respond to us little guys. Dunwoody, who looks down their nose at all of us non-Dunwoody ites thinks Price is great when he is nothing more than a thug just like the rest of the Republicans and Tea Bags.


August 3rd, 2011
6:58 pm

Mr Knowitall = Mr. Know_Nothing.

Milton County not a good idea??? You must be a libtard living in ATL smooching off the monies that N. Fulton sends to ATL & South Fulton.


August 3rd, 2011
7:00 pm

Happy with Johnson???

I guess it is true that the 4th district is full of morons. First Cynthia & now Mr. Guam is going to tip over.


August 3rd, 2011
7:10 pm

I’ve noticed the libs really have the “tea bag” thing on the tops of their shallow minds. Now I’m not a sheltered person but only when I kept hearing them call us tea baggers did I research the term and found that it was associated with male gay sex.

And then I understood why liberals had great familiarity with the term while I did not.


August 3rd, 2011
7:26 pm

Well it looks like us folks in Paulding county will keep Phil. Not a bad choice. We can live with that.

Road Scholar

August 3rd, 2011
8:05 pm

I really doubt that the state Republicans would draw up the map in a vaccumm like the Democrats alledgedly did. Not! The National Repubs didn’t allow for the three days for consideration of the Debt bill that they chastised President Obama for during the healthcare bill passage. Imagine that!

Capsized in DeKalb

August 3rd, 2011
8:09 pm

If the redrawn districts move Hank Johnson further to the east into Rockdale and Newton counties, will they CAPSIZE into Lake Sinclair? Hank Johnson has plenty of time to answer emails of the little guys, no one in Congress has time to waste talking to him! Can we put Hank in charge of the tri-state water wars? Nuff said.


August 3rd, 2011
8:12 pm

I am pretty sure that much of buckhead is not happy with john lewis’ representation. Just sayin’.


August 3rd, 2011
8:20 pm

Redistricting has always been as much of an art as a science. Not a chance the AJC said “What — you thought these lines were about you?” for all those decades the Democrats were in charge.

Price will not likely represent Buckhead, but it will have NOTHING to do with the Governor residing there. What a silly notion, but then these blogs have been tilting that way for a while.


August 3rd, 2011
8:56 pm

i do not see why the southwest part of the state needs any part of columbus or macon in the district . other than keeping bishop in. these lines are drawn to give a democrat the advantage!!


August 3rd, 2011
9:04 pm


August 3rd, 2011
8:56 pm

“these lines are drawn to give a democrat the advantage!!”

These lines will be drawn to comply with the voting rights act or you could say Federal quotas to make sure there are a set amount of African Americans in Congress.


August 3rd, 2011
9:20 pm

Just tell us when Westmoreland is going to come to Harris County/North Columbus to defend his lousy record?

Veteran Observer

August 3rd, 2011
9:41 pm

No no one much less we residents of Buckhead is happy with that senile old fool, John Lewis! His racist attitude and divisive demeanor is a big part of the problem in Washington! His departed partner in crime, Ted Kennedy, made sure we would all suffer in situations like this with his passage of the antiquated, and punitive civil rights act! Even though he would not accept extending it to Massachusetts and the rest of the country as our senators suggested! As was typical, the renewal doesn’t cover Boston which has far more recent civil rights issues than Atlanta and Georgia! Oh well at least He’s not Cynthia McKinney, a complete racist and proud of it!

Fed up in Rockdale

August 3rd, 2011
9:51 pm

Can we push Mr Guam back into DeKalb? Were getting tired of being the safe haven for DeKalb refugees fleeing the corruption and bringing their problems into Rockdale. I have never seen this guy in Rockdale and he’s up Troy Davis’ butt.

He’s slowly becoming Cynthia Davis in a male body.


August 3rd, 2011
10:05 pm

Frankly, I could go either way on keeping Woodall as my rep. I live at the southern extreme of Gwinnett County and I’ll be honest, he doesn’t seem to have the same thought processes as my neighbors….. but then again, I’ve lived here for almost 25 years, the thought processes of the people in my part of the county are very different now than back then.

I still think counties should be kept in tact as much as possible though.


August 3rd, 2011
10:25 pm

And please tell me they’re going to do something about the 13th and it’s nice little smiley-faced look.


August 3rd, 2011
11:01 pm

I hope Woodall keeps to Gwinnett. Frankly he cares less about anything but and I’m tired of hearing him glorify the Fair Tax while it festers every single Congress. Tired of some insider carpetbagger with a condescending smug attitude telling his own constituents what they need and don’t need.


August 3rd, 2011
11:15 pm

Although those who are centrists support some positions of both Democrats and Republicans, it is hard to do simultaneously on every issue.

In 1952, Armon M. Sweat, Jr., a member of the Texas House of Representatives, was asked about his position on whiskey. What follows is his exact answer (taken from the Political Archives of Texas):

“If you mean whiskey, the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean that evil drink that topples Christian men and women from the pinnacles of righteous and gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, shame, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness, then, my friend, I am opposed to it with every fiber of my being.

However, if by whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the elixir of life, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer, the stimulating sip that puts a little spring in the step of an elderly gentleman on a frosty morning; if you mean that drink that enables man to magnify his joy, and to forget life’s great tragedies and heartbreaks and sorrow; if you mean that drink the sale of which pours into Texas treasuries untold millions of dollars each year, that provides tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitifully aged and infirm, to build the finest highways, hospitals, universities, and community colleges in this nation, then my friend, I am absolutely, unequivocally in favor of it.

This is my position, and as always, I refuse to compromise on matters of principle.”

Alabama Communist

August 3rd, 2011
11:32 pm

More Breaking News On Why the Cash Rich Republicans in Buckhead Will remain as a Democrat Hostage……………..A Secret Source within the Republican Party said they have done their Homework on the Buckhead district and found out that all 200 Corporate Rich Republicans in the District have move their 1 st home to Northeast Cobb County and their present 2 nd homes will conduct tourist tours to the Cherokee Country Club on the weekends with discounted rates..


August 3rd, 2011
11:36 pm

Ditto Red’s post about Woodall. The fact that he’s a Linder protege was strike one right outta the gate, then voting to continue govt. funding for NPR soon as he got to D.C. was two. He gives me one more good reason and I’ll vote for anyone else – even a Democrat.


August 3rd, 2011
11:40 pm

South Fulton, South Dekalb and Clayton should be one district. Let Hank(Guam might tipover) Johnson and John(I’ve never presented a bill that didn’t honor a civil rights worker) Lewis have at it.

Where the hell is Zell?!

August 3rd, 2011
11:58 pm

Where is Zell Miller when we need him?! Georgia needs Zell! The world needs Zell to come back! Nobody knows more about Georgia politics than this man!!!

Camden County Oracle

August 4th, 2011
3:00 am

Dear Republican Reapportionment Representatives and Leadership,

I am writing to let you know that the reapportionment process for the Camden, Charlton, Glynn, and Ware Counties need to be taken seriously. It appears that there is some gerrymandering going on to get rid of “unfavorable” representation. The people of the southeastern portion of the state must have a voice under the Gold Dome. I wanted to also inform you that there is another state besides what is bordered by the I-285 perimeter. It is vital that we keep large geographical counties together such as Ware and Camden.

I live in Camden where we have three towns: Woodbine, Kingsland, and St. Marys located near the Kings Bay Nuclear Submarine Base. We have contentious feelings already among the three towns but we are able to get through these conflicts. However, fracturing Camden County will only further exacerbate community relationships based on resources. I cannot help think that there is something else tied to this agenda besides population. It is my understanding that there has to be a number of 53,000 people in a district. By itself, Camden has 50,513 people. I would like to make a recommendation to draw in small portions of Charlton and Brantley counties into the Camden district to keep most of the interest in Camden.

The current proposed maps are not representative of our community’s interest. I met all three candidates: Tommy Smith, Jason Spencer, & Mark Hatfield who will be most affected by this proposed map. Mr. Alex Atwood was contacted for this meeting due to a small portion of Glynn being reabsorbed. However, he will be taking the northern tier of Camden. After meeting these gentlemen, it was discovered in conversation with Mr. Smith that he will be receiving treatment on his reoccurring cancer. Mr. Smith’s health is going to be a factor for clear and strong representation for the next term and possibly 10 years. Mr. Smith no longer “knows” Camden County as some might think he does. If this man were my father, I would encourage him to step down or not run in the next election because he could barley stand up and speak. I am concerned for him that his large proposed district is unrealistic for him and unrealistic for the crucial economic needs for Camden County.

Mr. Spencer and Mr. Hatfield are set to run against one another for the next election. I do not know how each of these men can effectively represent the proposed district 180. Spencer and Hatfield will both have challenges representing Camden and Ware respectively because both are not familiar with each other’s area. I think the leadership needs to understand that drawing districts to keep chairmanships are not the reason to make a point. It is no secret that Mrs. Cecily Hill and the Speaker are friends. We in Camden know how she is and that is why we voted her out. She and her entourage of greedy developers want to cash on the tax payers of Camden. This is nothing more than a political tactic from Hill’s entourage because Spencer followed through on a campaign issue. We no longer have the tax digest to support this type of venture. This tools used in HB 234 might work in Atlanta, but you are hard pressed to find these ventures do well with weak depleted tax digests in southeastern Georgia. Just look at the Outlet Mall in Darien. GA. I cannot speak for Mr. Hatfield, but it is clear that his supporters want him back in office to continue fighting principles, not power. I have three suggestions that might work:
I would suggest that you listen to the people of southeast Georgia because we do know how to get to Atlanta.
Place Hatfield in Smith’s proposed district and return Kingsland and Woodbine back to Spencer’s district with sections of Charlton and Brantley Counties to make up the difference to meet the minimum number of 53,000.
Have any of you ever seen an alligator kill its prey? It is very impressive. They are masterful artists of the sneak attack. Once they actually attack, they clasp down with their huge muscular jaws and drag their prey to the deep portion of the water and begin the death-roll. This death-roll continues until the alligator gets what it wants. I suggest you listen to the people.


August 4th, 2011
3:35 am

After what we’ve witnessed in Washington, they should all be nervous.

fire eater

August 4th, 2011
4:53 am

Democrats pine for the days when their formula for retaining control would be dropping 30 -35% blacks into most congressional districts. This, in concert with the Roosevelt-lovers who cackled and fumed about “them ‘publicans” causing the Great Depression, kept Georgia under their rule for generations.

It is funny to watch Georgia Republicans quickly pack minority voters into a few compact districts that will give us noisy and harmless entertainers like Cynthia McKinney and Hank Johnson while the rest of the districts are sensibly conservative and Republican. Big losers are White liberals… frozen out of effectiveness by packing them in with large blocks of minorities who support one of their own.

Rational Discourse

August 4th, 2011
8:24 am

The redistricting process is politics at its worst. When are we going to take the politicians out of this and make it an independent process based solely on numbers and not which side of the street Democrat A or Republican B wants in their district?

Last I checked the people get to pick their representatives and not the other way around.


August 4th, 2011
9:03 am

for all you folks that think trade agreements will help usa:
If you want to know why politicians are so eager to pass a free trade agreement with Panama this month, type “Panama offshore banks” into Google and look at the paid ads. What you’ll see is advertising by law firms and banks that will offer you help to set up a secret corporate structure in Panama immune from taxes.

The State Department knows this. Here’s how the State Department described the Panamanian economy in 2006 in a secret memo revealed on Wikileaks.The Panamanian “incorporation regime ensures secrecy, avoids taxes,and shields assets from the enforcement of legal judgments. Along with its sophisticated banking services, Panama remains an environment conducive to laundering the proceeds from criminal activity and creates a vulnerability to terrorist financing.”


August 4th, 2011
9:08 am

Nooooooo! I so want to be represented by someone who will actually listen to my family’s concerns. PLEASE, please draw us Buckhead folks out of Rep. Lewis’ district. I know he lives here (yes, in Buckhead), but that doesn’t mean he actually talks to any of us. Don’t voters’ preferences have anything to do with this process?

Silly question.

Dem in Camden

August 4th, 2011
9:15 am

Spencer and Hatfield are two sides of the same crazy coin. Spencer was one of the birth certificate bill co-sponsors and is just as big a teatarded loon as Hatfield. No big fight there except to see who can be more dogmatic and stupid.


August 4th, 2011
9:18 am

Please, please, tell me that there is some way that Lynn Westmoreland can be redistricted out of Georgia. He would probably make a good congressman for the state of Sinaloa in Mexico but he has done absolutely nothing for our district in Georgia. He draws a salary, goes to congressional receptions, and has introduced exactly nothing of any consequence in congress. He doesn’t even know the 10 Commandments of which he was such an ardent supporter. All in all our district would be as well off or better off if Rin-Tin-Tin or Lassie were representing us in congress.


August 4th, 2011
9:21 am

Jim’s Onesider blog has become the Overthesider. Is there just neverending ignorant slander, speculation and cynicism?


August 4th, 2011
9:35 am

jim; your last line says it all…..thanks for the reminder!


August 4th, 2011
10:22 am


August 4th, 2011
9:18 am

Well Jackie, I think there is about 70% of the district that believes your assessment is incorrect. Westmoreland is going to be your Rep probably for a long, long time ahead.

Ole Roy Barnes

August 4th, 2011
10:47 am

I will rise again.

Roy Barnes for Governor 2014!


August 4th, 2011
10:50 am

The stimulus is working!

Just look at the S&P 500 and the unemployment rate … then you can thank me.
Hope and change for America!

[...] Jim Galloway has some early reconnaissance on Georgia’s highly-anticipated redistricting session. This is the first time in Georgia history that Republicans will have start-to-finish control of the process, which will be primarily, but not entirely, driven by last year’s census. [...]


August 4th, 2011
1:06 pm

51 Bullet-Pointed Facts That Dispute Barack Obama’s Identity & Eligibility to be President!


August 4th, 2011
1:32 pm

Wow, thanks a lot SamSewell. I clicked on that link and I want a refund on those wasted minutes. I believe Obama has done a horrible job as President, but promoting crap like that doesn’t help your cause.


August 4th, 2011
7:02 pm

Cissy, perhaps if you didn’t keep handing John Lewis your car keys, telling him there better not be a scratch on it when you return, he might be more ready to listen to you. Or was that you overheard at the country club saying the darkies were perfectly fine handing you towels in the locker room but you draw the line at representing you in congress?

[...] a Thursday column, we posited what we thought was a well-thought-out theory of why the Legislature, during the upcoming redistricting session, won’t make the Buckhead portion of Atlanta part of the [...]


August 5th, 2011
1:45 pm

You are sadly mistaken when you say, “This is the first time in Georgia history that Republicans will have start-to-finish control of the process, which will be primarily, but not entirely, driven by last year’s census.” President Obama’s Justice Dept will have the final say before this goes to court.

[...] a Thursday column, we posited what we thought was a well-thought-out theory of why the Legislature, during the upcoming redistricting session, won’t make the Buckhead portion of Atlanta part of the [...]