Could Del. Onzlee Ware, D-Roanoke, support a controversial redrawing of state Senate districts that hurts his party but creates a new black majority district in Southside Virginia?
Ware said today that he hasn’t decided how he would vote on the Senate redistricting plan, which ignited partisan fireworks when Senate Republicans forced it through their chamber last week.
The House of Delegates has not acted on the plan, which was attached an an amendment to a bill making minor changes to House districts. As the political maneuvering continues, some House Republicans have approached black Democratic delegates about supporting the controversial plan.
In an interview today, Ware said he likes the fact thatthe controversial Senate plan creates a sixth black majority Senate district anchored in Southside Virginia. But the plan also makes radical changes to the Senate district of Roanoke Democrat John Edwards and dissolves the district represented by Democrat Creigh Deeds of Bath County. Deeds would end up in the same district with Republican Emmett Hanger of Augusta County.
“I think it changes John district substantially,” Ware said. “I don’t like the fact that they put Creigh and Emmett in the same district.”
Ware also said the process Senate Republicans used to force the new district maps through the Senate “stinks.” But that alone won’t determine whether he supports the plan, he said.
“The some good and some bad in the bill,” Ware said. “What I have to decide is this: Do I put the party ahead of African Americans?
Edwards’ district now includes all of Roanoke city,Montgomery and Giles counties and part of Roanoke County. If the Senate Republican plan passes, Montgomery County would be shifted into a district represented by Republican Sen. Bill Stanley of Franklin County. Edwards would pick up Craig, Bland and Wythe counties. Roanoke and Blacksburg would be split into separate Senate districts for the first time in more than a decade.
Ware said he has not spoken with Edwards about the plan.
– Michael Sluss