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Georgia Republicans Add Majority-Black Congressional District at Expense of Mcbath


Georgia Republicans have proposed new congressional maps that would create an additional majority-Black district in the state while targeting a Democratic congresswoman.

Representative Lucy McBath, whose Seventh Congressional District encompasses a large swath of Gwinnett and Fulton Counties in Atlanta’s northeastern suburbs, would see her home district written into heavily Republican territory well north of the capital under the new maps, effectively drawing her out of a congressional seat. Republicans would maintain their four-seat majority in the state’s congressional delegation, and no Republican representatives would be in danger of losing their seats.

The maps, which were made public on Friday, were redrawn during a special legislative session after Judge Steve C. Jones of the Northern District of Georgia ruled that the state’s congressional maps diluted the power of Black voters. He ordered state legislators to draw new district maps in time for the 2024 elections.

Black, Latino and Asian communities make up the majority of the congresswoman’s current district, but no single racial group is predominant — a dynamic that creates Black or minority “opportunity districts” for voters of color to form a largely uniform bloc instead of a single racial group. In Georgia, voters of color tend to favor Democrats.

If the proposed map passes, as it is widely expected to in the Republican-led Statehouse, it would usher in a debate over whether majority-minority districts like Ms. McBath’s have the same protections against racial discrimination under the Voting Rights Act as districts largely made up of one minority group.

The inclusion of an additional majority-Black district, however, is in keeping with Judge Jones’s order to strengthen Black voters’ voting power in the state. The new district will be located west of Atlanta, per Judge Jones’s order.

Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia who studies redistricting, said the state’s Republican lawmakers were “following the rules the first part and then ignoring the second part. The second part being don’t destroy any pre-existing or already existing Black opportunity districts.”

Other U.S. representatives from Georgia would see their districts radically changed, even as they remain partisan. Representative David Scott, a Democrat whose 13th Congressional District stretched along the southwestern metro Atlanta area, would now represent territory southeast of the city — suburbs that once made up parts of Ms. McBath’s district. Representative Rich McCormick, a Republican who has garnered a handful of Democratic challengers seeking to flip his Sixth Congressional District north of Atlanta, saw his district stretch farther into deep-red northern Georgia, protecting it from Democratic encroachment.

In a statement, Jon Burns, speaker of the Georgia House, defended the proposed map, saying it “meets the promise we made when this process began: it fully complies with the judge’s order, while also following Georgia’s traditional redistricting principles.” He added, “We look forward to passing this fair redistricting plan.”

Ms. McBath, a former flight attendant and gun control activist who rose to prominence after the 2012 shooting death of her son, Jordan Davis, has been long considered a Democratic rising star. Her defeat of a Republican incumbent, Karen Handel, in 2018 made her a symbol of how changing demographics in the Atlanta suburbs gave way to Georgia’s political shift leftward. Her name has been floated among possible candidates for governor in 2026.

This is the second time that Republican-drawn congressional maps have been constructed at Ms. McBath’s expense. In 2022, after her district was redrawn to favor Republicans, she ran against and defeated a fellow Democrat, Carolyn Bourdeaux, in a neighboring district to remain in Congress. Like the previous maps, none of the newly drawn congressional districts are likely to create competitive races.

Ms. McBath has not yet publicly indicated whether she will run in a different congressional district or face almost assured defeat in her district under the proposed maps, should Judge Jones accept them.

“Georgia Republicans have yet again attempted to subvert voters by changing the rules. We will look to the ruling from Judge Jones in the coming weeks before announcing further plans,” Jake Orvis, Ms. McBath’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “Regardless, Congresswoman McBath refuses to let an extremist few in the state legislature determine when her time serving Georgians in Congress is done.”

Source: New York Times

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