Even as the Shelby County Commission heads into Chancellor Arnold Goldin’s court to resolve its redistricting issues, the final shoe has dropped from the point of view of state redistricting responsibilities.
On Friday afternoon, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, Speaker of the Senate, released the details of statewide congressional redistricting agreed upon by himself and House Speaker Beth Harwell. Added to their redistricting maps for the state Senate and state House, that puts a full meal on the plate of the legislature, which convenes next week and is expected to approve the arrangements, with possible minor adjustments.
CONGRESSIONAL: From Shelby County’s point of view, there’s a whole new look: The 9th Congressional district, currently served by Democrat Steve Cohen, is still contained wholly within the county’s boundaries but now occupies the entire western two-thirds of the county, from north to south, leaving the eastern third to the 8th congressional District, now held by Republican Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump in Crockett County.
Fincher's 8th District would now extend from the Tipton County line to the Mississippi state line, taking in Shelby County's eastern suburbs. The 7th District, now represented by Republican Marsha Blackburn, formerly reached into those suburbs and even into Memphis itself and has seen its western border advanced all the way over to Hardeman County, with Fayette County also absorbed into the 8th District.
The upshot of all this is that the 9th District remains solidly Democratic, with the same 60 percent African-American majority as before.. The 8th District, meanwhile, becomes so much more a Shelby County affair than before that it may encourage local Republicans to make challenges with real hopes of success.
STATE SENATE: Because its population growth has lagged behind that of other parts of the state, notably Middle Tennessee, Shelby County will see a loss of one of its current six state Senate seats.
In essence, five of the existing districts have been rearranged, while the number of one — District 33 — formerly thar od a Whitehaven/South Memphis district held by Democrat Reginald Tate, has been shifted all the way into middle Tennessee to become a new district there. Tate’s district — or the one where he resides — is now District 31. Presumably the newly numvereed district, substantially the same in its demographic and geographic character, remains Tate's bailiwick without further complication -- though it should be noted that there is confusion on the score in some quarters.
The area of the former District 31 finds itself now, for the most part, within District 28, which contains that remnant of the former District 28 wherein resides incumbent Democrat Jim Kyle&. Kyle thus finds himself matched this year in a hypothetical race against current District 31 incumbent Brian Kelsey, a Republican, who is at mid-term of his four-year term but volunteered to run again in the newly re-numbered district.
District 29, now held by Democrat Ophelia Ford, now stretches from the Tipton County line to the Mississippi state line, while District 30, represented at present by Midtown Democrat Beverly Marrero, though more of an African-American district than before, is still predominantly Democratic. District 32, currently held by Republican Majority Leader Mark Norris, would now stretch from the eastern and northeastern parts of Shelby County upward to include all of Tipton County.
Given the predominance of Republicans in the new District 28, the likelihood is that the loss of one Senator from Shelby County could equate to the loss of a Democratic Senator. At the very least, Senate Democratic leader Kyle will find himself hard pressed.
STATE HOUSE: The number of state representatives apportioned to Shelby County has shrunk from 17 to 15, and the shrinkage has resulted in the combination of four serving Democrats into two newly configured districts. Reps. Antonio Parkinson and Jeanne Richardson, both Democrats, are paired in one, and Reps. Barbara Cooper and G.A. Hardaway, also Democrats, are paired in another.
Net loss to Shelby County: two seats and two Democrats.
ANANLYSIS AND FURTHER DETAILS TO COME. (Note: some modifications have been made in this analysis since it first appeared.