Quentin Kidd (of CNU) and Michael McDonald (of GMU) held a competition for the best redistricting plans for Congress, the Senate, and the House. Fifteen teams from eleven universities participated. The winners, selected by folks from the the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute, were announced today. Of all of the submissions, UVA won for best Congressional districts, a different team from UVA won for best Senate districts, and GMU won for best House districts. (Detailed maps are available, too.)
Take a good look at these districts. In particular, study what your own districts would look like. They’re definitely not going to be perfect, but keep them in mind. When the new districts are announced by the General Assembly—and that’s how it’ll work, they’ll just be dropped into our laps one day, fully formed—compare your district to what it could have been. Most of us will be disappointed by reality.
The winning Congressional plan keeps me in the 5th congressional district, which would wind up making some unfortunate cuts across northwest Albemarle, as well as a few surrounding counties, rather than following the county boundaries. The southern end gets cut out, and it winds up extending clear to Richmond, but it strikes me as a generally sensible district. More sensible than the existing district, anyhow. This would cut Rep. Robert Hurt out of this district.
The winning Senate plan moves me out of the 25th (Creigh Deeds’ district). Heck, it moves Creigh Deeds out of Creigh Deeds’ district, into one that makes more sense for a man from Bath County. I wind up in a district—the 15th—that looks a lot like the new 5CD, extending slightly farther south and not getting as close to Richmond. Although my district looks a little odd as it dodges around Charlottesville, I think it’s otherwise reasonable.
And the winning House plan keeps me in the same district—the 58th, Rob Bell’s district—but the district gets a lot smaller, because it would include Charlottesville. If I’m right in my understanding of where Bell’s home is, that puts Bell into a runoff with Del. David Toscano, who represents the 57th, which consists of Charlottesville and the urban ring. Bell would undoubtedly lose that runoff, because his district would become far more liberal with the addition of Charlottesville, reliably the second-best performer in the state for Democrats. (Petersburg is #1.) Personally, I don’t think such concerns should matter in nonpartisan redistricting, so I’m happy to set that aside. I think the new 58th makes plenty of sense, and I’d have no quarrel with it.
As I said, not perfect, but pretty good. I could live with these districts. I should be so lucky to have the opportunity.