One of the big ones is the surprise move by Republicans to redistrict the evenly divided Virginia Senate in a way that could help the GOP gain control in the next election. The last redistricting happened only two years ago, and traditionally it occurs once per decade.
In an interesting touch, Republicans sprang the new map on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Democrats were unable to block it because a key senator was attending President Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington.
Many explanations have been offered for what looked like a naked power grab timed as cynically as it could be.
One of the most candid came from Sen. Ralph Smith, R-Bedford County. Even if you don’t agree with the way he votes, Smith is one of the straightest shooters in the General Assembly. Also, he’s probably been redistricted more than any lawmaker in Virginia history.
When I asked Smith about his vote for the new map, he said it was retribution for the GOP-unfriendly map the Democrats drew a couple of years ago. That moved him out of his own district. He added: “For the other side to squeal about this is hypocritical.”
“That was nothing more than spite, that’s what they did to me,” Smith said. With the new map, “you could argue retaliation.” Tit for tat, so to speak. It’s real.
The most unreal explanation came from Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County. It was in a legislative newsletter he sent out this past Sunday, in which he complained, “Most of the news reports, however, have only been telling part of the story.”
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