Area Republican lawmakers slam House redistricting plan

Published 7:22 pm Friday, March 4, 2011

New legislative districts proposed by the state House would giveLincoln County a third representative and stretch the domains ofcurrent local legislators far to the north and west.

Under the tentative redistricting maps unveiled by House leadersThursday, District 100 – controlled by Ken Morgan, a Republicanfrom Morgantown – would jut into eastern Lincoln County and coverall the communities of Big Springs, East Lincoln, Fair River andHeuck’s Retreat, politically-defined areas that are now a part ofBrookhaven Republican Becky Currie’s District 92. The Little Bahalacommunity would remain in District 92.

The newly shaped District 100 would extend from the eastern edgeof Brookhaven to just south of Hattiesburg, a distance of around 70miles, and encompass parts of seven counties – Covington, JeffersonDavis, Lamar, Marion, Lawrence, Lincoln and Walthall.

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While satisfied with the proposed new shape of her District 92,Currie said she’d vote against the House redistricting plan inJoint Resolution 1, alleging the new districts were drawn byDemocrats to limit Republican gains in the state.

“Gerrymandering is alive and well in Mississippi,” she said.”The Democrats have made sure Republicans will remain in theminority in the House of Representatives when we’re not theminority in this state. People need to understand that when thismap goes in, it will remain in effect for 10 years.”

Lincoln County’s other current House member, District 53 Rep.Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, was unavailable for comment Fridaymorning.

Another Republican Southwest Mississippi House member was alsonot happy with the redistricting plan.

Currie and District 97 Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb, said the newmaps shift populations favorably toward Democratic districts,collapse Republican districts and eliminated two conservativedistricts once held by retired Republican representatives. Bothsaid the new map does not accurately reflect the state’sconservative values.

“Look what happened in November 2010 – look how Mississippiansvote in the federal and statewide elections. This body in the Housecan and should reflect the views and values of Mississippi,” Mimssaid. “Under this plan, that is going to be very challenging.”

The House and Senate are both introducing reapportionmentresolutions that would redraw legislative districts around thestate, a process that occurs every 10 years in conjunction with thedecennial census. The new maps are by far the most contentiousissue in the Legislature in 2011, with Republicans vowing tochallenge the House maps, which were drawn entirely byDemocrats.

The Senate is expected to release its redistricting planMonday.

To compensate for the gains of District 100, the new map wouldextend Currie’s District 92 northward along the eastern edge ofCopiah County, stretching from Meadville in the southwest to theRankin County line in the northeast. The district would pick up thecommunities of Beauregard, Stronghope Union, Shady Grove,Georgetown North and Crystal Springs East in Copiah County and takein the Pearl community in Simpson County.

The remainder of District 92 would remain largely unchanged,encompassing southwest Brookhaven and the western and northernportions of Lincoln County. The district’s communities in FranklinCounty would remain unchanged.

Moak’s District 53 would remain largely unchanged in LincolnCounty, continuing to lay along the southern communities and jut upin a thin strip to the Copiah County line. The district’s hold onFranklin County is likewise unchanged by the new proposal.

Overall, District 53 would shift toward the Mississippi River,losing several communities in southern Lawrence County to District100 but gaining three new ones in Jefferson County. District 53would take in that county’s Ebenezer and McNair communities, aswell as a large block of eastern Jefferson County.

The district would maintain small footholds in northern Amiteand Pike counties.