NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Tennessee House committee approved a plan to move forward on a Republican-led proposal to realign districts. The process is required by law to take place every 10 years, but the latest proposal goes after 5 incumbent Democrats in a body with a GOP supermajority.
The GOP targeted cities and frequent critics of Speaker Cameron Sexton in the house redistricting proposal.
“Rather than considering the interest of voters and trying to comply with equal representation law like one man, one vote, they came after several of us who stand up and fight for what we believe in,” Representative John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said.
The new lines by the GOP supermajority splice up neighborhoods of major cities. It also eliminates in part, black representation in the state’s most populous county. Pitting Democrats, Rep. London Lamar and Torrey Harris against each other in Shelby County, both majority-minority districts.
“I think it’s very telling that 2/3rds of the representatives that they’re going after through this gerrymandering process are black,” Clemmons said.
The House also targeted frequent critics like Clemmons, whose district was sliced and added to Rep. Mike Stewart’s district.
“In Knox County, they drew literally a small portion of my precinct into Representative McKenzie’s district so that we would be pitted against each other,” Rep. Gloria Johnson, another frequent critic of Speaker Sexton said.
House Republicans say in releasing the plan they “are proud to say this was the most transparent and open redistricting process in Tennessee’s history.”
“They could have published that map on their website and as they were drawing lines and then allowed people to comment on what they were doing that would be transparency — what they did was a back door power grab,” Johnson said.
Two Republicans are drawn together in northeast Tennessee.
According to a recent Vanderbilt University poll, 60 percent of both Democrats and Republicans support public hearings on redistricting.
The final map would be voted on in January.