View 9th District congressmen in a larger map
Much has been made of the fact the Republican Morgan Griffith doesn’t live in the 9th Congressional District — at least not yet, anyway. He says next year’s redistricting is sure to bring Salem into the district.
And it’s true that the 9th is going to have to take in a lot of new territory (and people) come redistricting time. So no matter whether the 9th swallows up Salem, or pushes up into the Shenandoah Valley, or over into Martinsville and more of Southside, it’s clear that as time goes by, the 9th District is going to be getting further and further away from being a “pure” Southwest Virginia district.
That got us to thinking: Where have the district’s other congressmen been from?
Thanks to some help from librarian Belinda Harris, not to mention our old friends at Google Maps, we’ve put together this nifty map pinpointing the hometowns of all the 9th District congressmen since Reconstruction. Depending on how it displays on your browser, you might need to slide it around or zoom in or out to see the whole thing. (The Ninth has had two congressmen from out in Lee County, in the state’s westernmost tip, and has had one from as far north and east as . . .well, we’ll get to that soon enough.)
Some things we discovered:
* With only one exception, all the congressmen have been from Wytheville or west.
* That one exception is James W. Marshall, who served one term from 1893-1895. He was from New Castle. We haven’t tracked down a map of the district during the 1890s, so things must have changed, because Craig County later dropped out of the 9th District and then got put back in more recently.
* That means if Griffith wins this fall, it would be only the second time that the district hasn’t been represented by someone from what is more classically termed Southwest Virginia. (Where Southwest Virginia begins is an interesting concept; some in Roanoke don’t see themselves as part of Southwest Virginia, some do.) Of course, as the district expands geographically, it’s going to be more and more likely that future representatives will come from places other than the Bristol-Abingdon area, which, you’ll see, has supplied many of the district’s congressmen (including the incumbent, Rick Boucher). Hence, the provocative question in our headline.
* If Griffith wins, it also would be the first time that the Roanoke Valley has had not one but two congressman — Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, in the 6th District being the other one. There have been times in the past when the 6th District representative wasn’t from Roanoke, so the Roanoke Valley had none of its residents in Washington.
* Boucher is, by far, the long-serving congressman the 9th District has had. He was elected in 1982, so he’s wrapping up his 28th year in Congress. His predecessor, Republican William Wampler of Bristol, served 18 years (16 of those consecutively) and Democrat John Flannagan of Bristol served 18 years in the 1930s and 40s. But go back far enough and you’ll see lots of congressmen who only served a term or two.
Here’s a link to a Wikipedia entry. You’ll see a slight discrepancy with our list around the time of Reconstruction; we think it has to do with Virginia being part of a military district at the time. In any case, our source is “The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005,” which seems pretty authoritative.