Karma and the drawing of Georgia’s political boundaries

Ten years later, what went around, came around.

Last week, our Republican-led Legislature plunged into the ruthless process known as redistricting.

Constitutionally, it is an occasion to pay homage to the concept of one person, one vote. In reality, redistricting is the irresistible opportunity for the ruling forces of the Capitol to redraw the state’s political boundaries — with the object of securing their own power for the next decade.

Congressional lines will be tackled this week. U.S. Rep. John Barrow, the Democrat from Savannah, is advised to reserve a moving van — Republicans are almost sure to force him out of his district, again.

A ghost of 2001: Senate District 51 required an eight-hour trek by car

A ghost of 2001: Senate District 51, occupied by Republican Bill Stephens, required an eight-hour trek by car

But the true blueprint for power in Georgia was largely settled on Thursday, when House and Senate Republicans passed separate district maps — intended to give their party super-majorities in each chamber.

In the House, white Democrats were paired with black Democrats in heavily African-American districts, which the minority party condemned as an attempt to re-segregate Georgia political life. In depopulated South Georgia, Jimmy Carter’s old state Senate district — heavy with minorities and history — was erased from existence.

But from the beginning, Republicans had this message waiting to counter any Democratic whining: “You deserved worse.”

Definitely not by coincidence, Thursday’s debates on the maps opened in each chamber with a history lesson written by the victors. In 2001, Democrats still ruled Georgia, but Republicans — for the first time — were threatening. Led by Gov. Roy Barnes, Democrats produced a series of maps that stretched the bounds of credulity, as federal courts would later rule.

“They went overboard. They were just messing with incumbents,” said Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political scientist.

Ten years later, Senate Reapportionment Chairman Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, flashed some of the Democratic handiwork on a pair of wide screens in the Senate chamber. District after district snaked across the state in narrow, twisted paths.

ScreenShot120

Senate District 24, as drawn in 2001 for Republican Sen. Joey Brush

A giggle broke out when Seabaugh unveiled Senate District 51, housing a GOP incumbent, which Democrats had draped across the roof of Georgia like a giant pair of elephant ears — several counties on each lobe. The land bridge that connected the east side with the west was at one point only two football fields wide. (It took a reporter eight hours to make the convoluted 199-mile trek from one end to the other.)

Democrats tried to “systematically eliminate Republicans” from the Legislature, Seabaugh charged. In the House, 18 Republicans were forced out of their districts, and out of the Legislature. In the Senate, four Republicans were ousted after the 2002 elections, but ironically, the chamber still ended up in GOP hands.

After last week’s debate, Seabaugh was asked if Republicans conceived of their 2011 maps as a vehicle for revenge. He said no. In the GOP plan, only one senator — Democrat George Hooks of Americus, holding the same seat Carter once occupied — would be forced out.

“We didn’t pair a bunch of Democrats,” he said. “If anybody would go look at the Atlanta metro area, it would have been so easy, and it would have been justifiable.”

Did the Republican history seminar shame Democrats into submission? Hardly. “A hundred years ago, you used to take away the vote with a whip and a noose,” thundered state Sen. Vincent Fort of Atlanta. “Today you take it away with computers and hard drives and other electronic equipment. It wasn’t right then, and it wasn’t right now.”

But Fort and nearly every Democrat who challenged the GOP maps, in both the House and Senate, were forced to give an awkward acknowledgment of the Democratic excess of 2001, and deny any connection to it.

Which certainly can take the emotional starch out of a protest.

There is, of course, the question of how much the game of redistricting has actually changed in the last 10 years. At a Senate committee meeting, William Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, complimented Republican senators for drawing a map with compact and contiguous districts, one that respected county lines and other geographic boundaries, and met the Voting Rights Act standard of one person, one vote.

The House map, Perry would say later, comes up short by splitting too many counties among several districts.

Beyond that, Perry remains a skeptic. “It got a little nauseating hearing the comparison to 10 years ago,” he said. “As far as transparency, it’s not much better than it was.” In his judgment, it is the difference between a closed door, and one cracked open, with the chain still secured.

Yes, Republicans made their maps public before a vote. But on a Friday afternoon, before a session that began the next Monday. Important information was withheld, such as what incumbents lived in which renumbered districts. Republicans made many claims about the superiority of their maps over the ones drawn in 2001, but refused to provide the vital population data that backed up those claims.

Democrats were refused access to the $425-an-hour law firm hired with taxpayer funds to help build the maps. Just as Republicans were denied the same help in 2001.

Bottom line: In 2001 and 2011, after the leaders of the ruling party introduced their outlines of power, not a single line was changed by the protests of the opposition, or the complaints of the public.

There is more similarity. In the four decades since the passage of the Voter Rights Act, not a single redistricting map passed by the Legislature has escaped a federal court fight. And just as in 2001, the maps of 2011 are headed the same way.

In the meantime, sit back and wait for the payback that 2021 will bring.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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80 comments Add your comment

Buddy Hawkins

August 20th, 2011
11:30 am

Which white Democrats were paired with black Democrats? I only count one (Sistie Hudson with Mack Jackson). Of the ten house districts that pair incumbents only one of them seems to pair a white and black democrat.

Jeff Sexton

August 20th, 2011
11:41 am

Single Party rule is wrong in the Nation of Georgia in 1971 and in the State of Georgia in 2011. Be they Baath, Communist, Republican, or the Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran.

If you’re GOP – you just put a political target on your back bigger than anything you’ve ever done, so far as I am concerned.

Southern Boy

August 20th, 2011
11:49 am

Muuuwhahahhaha, reap what you sow. Hey Jeff, come hit the target if you can.

Sarah

August 20th, 2011
11:50 am

And what goes around in 2011 will come around again in 2021. It took the Democrats centuries to overreach. It will take less than a decade for the GOP to do the same.

The great thing about this is now people will begin to realize that the state truly did begin to go downhill when the Republicans took over and they only continually make it worse. Now the GOP will have to own every bit of the crap that will come down on them. Karma is a bitch and she will bite them in the butt hard and fast. I’ll have the popcorn ready!

Judge Dawg

August 20th, 2011
11:51 am

I’d gladly give up Georgia for the rest of America.. this state is fast becoming a wasteland… More uneducated people for the Armed Forces..

colorblind

August 20th, 2011
12:08 pm

Unless one was born in Africa and now holds dual citizenship in the U.S.A., one is just plain ol’ American. Imagine if every article in today’s media, across every single platform, and in every single form or document cranked out of the govt. interchanged the words “white” with “European-American.” It makes just about as much sense.

WillieRae

August 20th, 2011
12:20 pm

Judge dawg is a proud progressive and reflects the dominant perspective of the democrats toward military service and toward everyone who is not just like them.

Democrats and their press buddies are having to tie themselves into a knot to equate the current redistricting process withKing Roy’s. The same thing? Not even close!

Jill

August 20th, 2011
12:34 pm

After the last census and Democrat map drawing, I remember voters having to choose between two Republican incumbents drawn in together in Dunwoody: Max Davis and Fran Millar.

Republican Paul Jennings was put into a multi-member majority liberal district to eliminate him. That district went from the Tucker area and then dipped down into the Decatur and Brookhaven communities. (Eight years ago, DeKalb Democrats insisted that district was a “community of interest”)

In the Senate, they put Republican Joe Burton in with a Democrat to beat him in a redrawn district.

When the courts ruled those Democrat-drawn maps to be illegal, the Democrat controlled House answered back by pairing two DeKalb Republican Representatives: me with Fran Millar.

Since the Democrat Party REFUSED to draw legal maps in 2002 & 2004, a court appointed Special Master drew the maps used for the elections in 2004

A few of the whining Democrats complaining about the new House map did not even vote in the state of Georgia during the days of Democrat party map-making.

btw, I onced lived in the old McKinney congressional district that went from Atlanta through east Georgia and down to Savannah – now that is real gerrymandering!

eatmotacos

August 20th, 2011
12:42 pm

Speaking of states with ignorant voters, I would put Iowa and Minnesota right up their with Georgia. How in heaven’s name anyone could elect that crazy, wild eyed woman, with a voice like fingernails scraping on a blackboard, to any public office, defies all logic. It seems that Georgia hasn’t cornered the market on stupidity – it is widespread.

Centrist

August 20th, 2011
12:56 pm

This Republican gerrymandering is a LOT tamer than the elephant ear type abuse the Democrats pulled 10 years ago, and calling it “payback” is more than a stretch. Moderate Democrats who don’t want to hue the party line got a mention at the end of an AJC article (nothing in this blog, though):

Majority Whip Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, and Minority Leader Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, continued their contentious exchange from a committee hearing earlier this week. Lindsey said some Democrats would support the maps but won’t vote for them out of fear of political retribution.

Lindsey displayed on giant screens in the House chamber a copy of an e-mail Abrams sent her caucus warning that a vote in favor of the Republican plan could lead to primary opposition next year.

Democrats, Lindsey said, aren’t publicly supporting the maps “not because these aren’t fair maps, it’s because they’ve been threatened with their political future if they vote for it.”

Centrist

August 20th, 2011
1:05 pm

I went to the Ellijay town hall meeting this morning where U.S. Senators Isakson and Chambliss spoke and took about a dozen questions. Every single question was pointed at how the current debt and deficit spending was/is caused by BOTH political parties. Lots of lip service from the Senators about no more earmarks, the increase in borrowing deal will be met with dollar for dollar spending cuts, and support for the FairTax, but nobody seemed to believe them. It was a mostly polite crowd, but their applause and obvious distrust put both Senators on the defensive.

Hello Jill

August 20th, 2011
1:26 pm

Are you really back, Ms. Chambers? I would have thought that your embarrassing showing in the last election would have taught you a thing or two about “what goes around, comes around”. But apparently not. I’ll bet that your “friends” haven’t drawn you a district to run in this time. That’s because they couldn’t stand you either. Sometimes, people really do get what they deserve. BTW, does Al still live in your basement (calling and threatening your opponents)???

eatmotacos

August 20th, 2011
1:53 pm

@ centrist

You are what Isackson refers to as the “unwashed” (the stupid people who elected him).

“Republicans, who heard Angle’s presentation were, to a letter, impressed. “She said she won, she needed money, and wanted to be a part of the team and was glad to be here today,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-GA, who said Ensign also showed a recent Rasmussen poll showing Angle up 11 points against Reid. “She did a good job. She’s an articulate lady…This was an introduction. It wasn’t the kind of speech you would give to the unwashed back home, she was talking to her colleagues,” Isakson recounted.”

Centrist

August 20th, 2011
2:02 pm

@ eatmo posted: “Centrist – You are what Isackson refers to as the “unwashed” (the stupid people who elected him).”

You have me confused with the Libertarian unwashed who waste their votes. I did NOT vote for either Isakson or Chambliss (had to vote for the Democrat in the runoff since there was no Libertarian).

Jimmy

August 20th, 2011
2:29 pm

When I looked at the 2011 maps and the 2001 maps, the difference was overwhelmingly obvious. I don’t need a consultant or a “reporter” to tell me that the 2011 maps are less gerrymandered than the 2001 maps.

O_NO

August 20th, 2011
2:31 pm

Stacy Abrams made opposition to the redistricting process a litmus test for being a democrat lawmaker.

Centrist

August 20th, 2011
2:46 pm

@ Jimmy posted: “I don’t need a “reporter” to tell me that the 2011 maps are less gerrymandered than the 2001 maps.”

Not a chance a reporter (Democrat) will ever print that. Like Galloway, they will call it “payback” and “what went around, came around”. Reporters and their editors are grossly biased to the left, and prove it every day.

atlmom

August 20th, 2011
2:54 pm

I really don’t get it. These maps look fine to me. Especially considering the maps from ten years ago.
I think it is bigoted to tell blacks they will vote one way, or whites they will vote another. It is crazy.
It is not the Rs fault that most of the time, people live near to people who are like them. To gerrymander a district so that the Ds won’t yell ‘raacciisst’ is idiotic. these maps looked fine to me. The districts don’t belong to anyone but the people.

DannyX

August 20th, 2011
3:23 pm

Centrist, your whole position is based on emotional payback, yet you say you are a centrist Libertarian.

How do you always end up on the far right Republican side? You are no different than any of the other emo-Republicans that post here.

When did “Libertarians” start cheering on super majority one party rule? And where does that leave the centrists?

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Jeff Sexton

August 20th, 2011
3:35 pm

Danny:

“When did “Libertarians” start cheering on super majority one party rule?”

A: We haven’t. Go to LPgeorgia.com, you’ll find my name there a few times. ;)

Centrist

August 20th, 2011
3:40 pm

@ DannyX – We have had this discussion several times before. You are a liberal Democrat. You consider ANY poster who is to your right as a reactionary Republican.

I don’t condone gerrymandering, but realize it is a historical fact of life. The Georgia Republicans did not go nearly as far this year as the Democrats did 10 years ago. It is your emotional reaction that blinds you to that fact.

I am NOT cheering the Republican super majority in Georgia or Washington. But unless the Democrats start nominating less radical leftists, Democrats are in trouble in Georgia. If the Republicans win the White House and Congress next year, I fear there will be attempts to turn our country into a Christian theocracy and wipe out women’s birth rights. I am glad we now have a split Congress where AIG type payoffs and unrestrained deficit spending is being halted. In short, Centrist opinions.

DannyX

August 20th, 2011
4:03 pm

Thanks for the link Jeff, I knew there had to be a real Libertarian out there somewhere.

Centrist

August 20th, 2011
4:16 pm

I went to that Libertarian website and took the blinking quiz to see where IT said I stood on their political map. IT put me directly in the middle on the border of Libertarian and Centrist.

But then I already knew that.

teacher

August 20th, 2011
4:23 pm

This state is in serious trouble , no matter how you carve it up.
Republicans and democrats, black or white, have been a huge disappointment. There is a lack of leadership in this state. People are suffering and the cost of everything is sky rocketing. Deal is selling property to a pervert and others are in debt so high that it is costing banks.
When will it end?

Ghost Rider

August 20th, 2011
4:34 pm

Judge Dawg:

If you’re not blogging from a prison cell, you are free to leave the state, and good riddance!

Ghost Rider

August 20th, 2011
4:40 pm

Judge Dawg owes an apology to every member of the armed services and their dependents and family for his/her ill-advised remark. Judge Dawg accurately reflects the attitude of so many liberal progressives.

I doubt that we shall see an apology from Judge Dawg even though one is due.

td

August 20th, 2011
4:49 pm

teacher

August 20th, 2011
4:23 pm

“There is a lack of leadership in this state. People are suffering and the cost of everything is sky rocketing. Deal is selling property to a pervert and others are in debt so high that it is costing banks.
When will it end?”

What type of leadership is needed? How do you control cost of goods and services on a state level when the nation in going into an inflationary time? How does a government stop people from borrowing more then they can pay back? How is the government to stop a person from selling his/her property to anyone?

findog

August 20th, 2011
5:01 pm

Judge, where do you get off labeling liberal progressives as anti US military
redundant, qualifying qualifier, hater-aide fueled rants night make you feel better about that plastic Jesus on your dash but does not carry the debate

td

August 20th, 2011
5:02 pm

Judge Dawg

August 20th, 2011
11:51 am
I’d gladly give up Georgia for the rest of America.. this state is fast becoming a wasteland… More uneducated people for the Armed Forces

I do not usually bash individuals or call them names on these blogs but I think you total unpatriotic regard for the military in this country deserves it. You sir are a big piece of crap that should loose your citizenship and be deported to Cuba immediately. Give up your moniker too I am sure UGA does not express your cowardly comments.

td

August 20th, 2011
5:04 pm

findog

August 20th, 2011
5:01 pm

This pig is no way reflects the views of any Christian in this state, so you really should take back that reference.

findog

August 20th, 2011
5:11 pm

I apologize to all the dash board plastic Jesus’

findog

August 20th, 2011
5:13 pm

actually my comment was meant for GR @4:40

td

August 20th, 2011
5:22 pm

findog

August 20th, 2011
5:13 pm
actually my comment was meant for GR @4:40

As long as you did not give that pig any support. As far as GR’s comment, I have not seen any Conservative Christians putting down the military but I have seen a good many self prescribed LP’s do it (Code Pink).

John Radney

August 20th, 2011
5:22 pm

Wish they had got rid of Sanford Bishop. A true communist. Never voted against a welfare bill. Oh for the good old days.

DannyX

August 20th, 2011
5:28 pm

td and Ghost Rider, is there some sort of politically correct guidelines people around here need to follow? Do they need to check in with you two before posting? We don’t need the pc police monitoring this blog.

BD

August 20th, 2011
5:36 pm

Sen. Mitch GoofBaugh is at his best when he’s vindictive and unyeilding. It’s incredible this guy gets voted into office year after year by Coweta county voters. No one knows his real profession, and while he claims to be a CPA, he never lets the facts gets in the way of making a decision. I’ve encountered Sen. Goofbaugh several times, and he’s an ignoramus of the first degree.

Ghost Rider

August 20th, 2011
5:50 pm

DannyX:

OK, I agree with you re the PC police, but keep this in mind. Judge Dawg made his comment. Am I not allowed the same privilege?

Ghost Rider

August 20th, 2011
5:53 pm

DannyX:

So, it is OK for Judge Dawg to post his comment, but NOT OK for me to respond to it?

I guess I understand that, but it’s fuzzy logic – at best.

honested

August 20th, 2011
6:58 pm

Well it is good to see the clever efforts by Democrats have worked.

Repugs have been regularly elected in the last few cycles simply by being ‘most conservative’ (read most out of touch with normal people).

Now all we need to do is put forth qualified candidates to stomp the life out of the repug ignoramuses in 2012. Leaving them stunned as to just what happened.

Start with fran millar (right jill).

‘Born and bred in the briar patch’

Thanks y’all.

Ghost Rider

August 20th, 2011
8:16 pm

honested:

Those elected apparently are not “out of touch” with the electorate. If the economy remains the same or worsens by the election in 2012, merely being a Democrat may subject you to new game laws whereby Democrats may be hunted with dogs and shotguns. Baited fields will be allowed and there will be no “bag limit”.

honested

August 20th, 2011
9:23 pm

ghostie,

Aren’t you cute.

Only, there is already a season for wild pigs.

Hide behind a tree and don’t make any noise.

Question Man

August 20th, 2011
9:34 pm

Don’t people sometimes wonder why Georgia is still subject to Department of Justice review on voting rights matters? Is this redistricting by the Republican majority an example of the answer to that question (just as was the case when the Democrats did the redistricting in 2001)?

honested

August 20th, 2011
9:40 pm

Question

The repugs have all but dared the Justice Department to intervene (again) and spit in their face to prove it.

When these worms are called to heel, will the start whining about secession or some such nonsense?

td

August 20th, 2011
10:29 pm

honested

August 20th, 2011
9:40 pm
Question

The repugs have all but dared the Justice Department to intervene (again) and spit in their face to prove it.

When these worms are called to heel, will the start whining about secession or some such nonsense?

I may not like or support your post most of the time but they usually make since if you know how socialist think. You are just blowing smoke on this one. There is no way the Republicans lose on these maps. The voting rights act (the biggest racist bill since the Jim crow laws) was written to have guarantee maximum African American representation. This current plan achieves that purpose so therefore there is no voting rights act violation and the maps will be certified. Unintended consequences is a *itch is it not and the unitended consequenses mean the white libs in this state are not going to have repersentation.

double

August 20th, 2011
10:51 pm

Some game fight back.Not like hunting game with bow wow.

Centrist

August 20th, 2011
11:08 pm

I’m neutral about these prospects, but in addition to being a centrist I’m a realist. Georgia has turned much more Republican since 2001, and there is no hope for Democrats to save more districts via the Justice Department than the Republicans have given them chances already.

Same will hold true next week for the Congressional Districts. The Republicans are going to add at least one more with the newly added 14th, and their current 8 – 5 advantage is likely to grow to 10 – 4 after the 2012 elections because Sanford Bishop is an endangered species.

Serious Robuck

August 20th, 2011
11:11 pm

So, Ghost Rider, do the Republicans who control everything in Georgia get a free pass from you. If so, we should simply do away with state government, don’t you think? Your delusions of violence against those you disagree with are indicative of your pathetic rednekkidness. Go kill yourself a squirrel or a possum and fry him up and eat him up. You’ll feel better, I’m sure.

Centrist

August 20th, 2011
11:11 pm

I meant John Barrow in my last. Bedtime.

Serious Robuck

August 20th, 2011
11:16 pm

td, did you ever go to school, Sweet Baby? You are one special, ignorant, barely literate redneck.