John Brummett writes further today about the changed political landscape on redrawing congressional districts to reflect population changes, as is done every 10 years. Three Republican congressmen and near partisan parity in the legislature make the outcome complicated, along with divided aims among Democrats.
My only thought is this: If Democrats get behind a Republican plan to carve up Pulaski County into different congressional districts, the party can kiss the 2nd District goodbye forever. It’s a difficult sell with suburban voters as it is, but you need look only at the Democratic winning margins by all statewide Democratic candidates in the 2nd District (even though three of them lost statewide), thanks to enormous Pulaski margins, to understand the arithmetic. Republicans are again selling a plan to pack blacks into a neighboring district, just as Republican chairman Asa Hutchinson tried to sell 20 years ago. Beware of such Trojan horse gifts. A majority black district can’t be created in Arkansas. You could create a district that might nominate a black candidate in the Democratic primary, a prospect that has Republicans licking their chops all over again.
Here’s an idea: Move Jefferson into the 2nd and give Mike Ross Saline County.
UPDATE: Small world. Ran into Sen. Gilbert Baker at lunch (Juanita’s). He insists he’s not focused on splitting up Pulaski County and has only mentioned the idea in passing. He’s focused, he says, on ensuring equal representation in each district — one-man, one-vote and no big population variances among the districts. Fine by me. But splitting up a homogenous, densely populated county to achieve that aim could only have political motivation. He says the 2nd District will only have to give up about 10,000 in population to achieve pariity. The 3rd is going to have to shed 100,000. Maybe they could split Washington, Benton and Sebastian Counties down the middle and give the western half of those counties to Mike Ross in the Fourth. He’d be simpatico politically.