In the Post, Anita Kumar explains how the redistricting proposals came about:
This year, despite the appointment of a bipartisan commission to advise legislators, the lines were largely drawn by two men: Sen. George L. Barker (D), a health-care planner from Prince William County, and Rep. S. Chris Jones (R), a pharmacist from Suffolk.
The pair were part of a small cadre of legislators who worked quietly to draw the maps with input primarily from the majority party in each house. Fewer than 10 of the state’s 140 legislators were privy to the lines before they were made public last week, according to lawmakers and aides.
And how did Barker model his redistricting theories? Using Dave’s Redistricting. I don’t know whether to be depressed or pleased.
Also, it turns out that Del. Rob Bell assisted Jones in drawing the house maps, which only makes the crazy proposed boundaries for his district even more inexplicable. (The Daily News Record weighed in against the proposed lines in an editorial today.)
And what of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s “bipartisan redistricting committee”? Well, it’s more of a fig leaf than ever. McDonnell only established the commission in January—far too late to give them time to actually produce anything useful early enough for the legislature to even pretend to consider it—which is presumably why their recommendations weren’t issued until late last night, giving the legislature one half of one working day to even consider them. (Rather a brief period in which to review 151 districts.) The governor is already trying to distance himself from those recommendations—spokesman Tucker Martin told Tyler Whitley that “the recommendations of the commission are theirs alone; they are not recommendations by the governor.”
The Daily Press quotes my friend Sean O’Brien on the topic:
Committee member Sean O’Brien said the real change is likely to come during Virginia’s 2021 redraw.
“I feel like we’re laying the groundwork, the foundation for 10 years from now,” O’Brien said. “So that we’re not in a position of having public hearings in four days.”
We’re always hoping to get them right next time around. Why should it be any different in 2021?