Another Tennessee Democrat speaks out about congressional redistricting

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On the heels of a Tennessee House redistricting plan being released, Nashville state Rep. Bob Freeman became another in the line of Democratic voices to publicly state that Nashville/Davidson County should not be split when new Congressional maps are released in early 2022.

Every 10 years, after the U.S. census, legislative lines for the U.S. House are redrawn. Since the census results were released, confirming Tennessee would remain at nine congressional seats, Democrats have voiced concern the Nashville-area district held by Jim Cooper would be split into two in a new map. Cooper is the brother of Nashville Mayor John Cooper.

“Ensuring the 5th Congressional District lines are wholly in Davidson County is crucial in maintaining election integrity in the next cycle,” Freeman said Monday. “Davidson County should be represented by someone residing within the county making certain its specific needs are prioritized and not diluted by the interests of a bordering county.

“Nashville is the financial engine of our great state and allowing any representation from another county erodes the voice of Davidson County voters and could have major financial implications on our state budget.”

While the proposed state House map was released Friday, the new Senate and congressional map proposals have yet to be released.

House Select Committee on Redistricting Chair Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, said it was expected the committee would meet again during the week of Jan. 10 related to state Senate and congressional redistricting maps.

The state House map will become an amendment to House Bill 1035, which will be heard by the Public Service Committee in January. It then will go to the State Government Committee, Calendar Rules and the full House and Senate for approval, according to committee counsel Doug Himes.

The congressional and Senate maps will go through a similar process.

Jim Cooper spoke in September at Select Committee on Redistricting meeting to plead his case.

“In previous redistricting rounds, and I’ve been through five – well this will be the fifth – so far I’ve survived every one,” Cooper said. “That’s why, in the past, this has generally been – at least at the congressional level – remarkably bipartisan. The incumbents of either party were polled, at least privately, asked their recommendation and the general feeling was, ‘Let’s keep the districts as close to the same as possible, given the Constitutional and population requirements.'

“… I hope and pray, for Nashville’s sake, that that’s done this time.”

Nashville’s metropolitan area was the 20th-fastest growing statistical area in the country since 2010, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, growing at a rate of 20.9% while the state’s total population grew by 8.9%.

Six counties surrounding Nashville saw 20% or higher population increases over the past 10 years.

That growth, along with population losses in west Tennessee and the northern parts of east and middle Tennessee, mean the districts near Nashville need to shrink geographically while the districts with less population growth will need to grow geographically in the new maps. Districts across the state need to have a similar number of voters.

Republican leaders such as Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, and House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, praised the process used to create the House maps, which for the first time included bipartisan committees.

“I was first running 10 years ago when this body was doing the redistricting process, and it was nowhere near as transparent as this,” Lamberth said. “I know technology has helped with some of that. … It’s certainly the most transparent process I’ve seen, and I never remember a time in Tennessee’s history when this was out before Christmas, at least as a proposal.”

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