ATLANTA — Georgia’s state Senate adopted a Republican-drawn congressional map on Friday over the objections of Senate Democrats.The Georgia House is expected to follow suit on Monday, ending a months-long partisan battle to decide the state’s political future for the next decade.
The GOP-controlled Senate voted along party lines, 32-21, to approve the map.
The General Assembly has been meeting in special session for two weeks as lawmakers redraw legislative and congressional boundaries to accommodate changes in population reflected in the 2020 U.S. Census.
Lawmakers have already approved new state House and Senate districts during the last two weeks.
The map approved Friday adds more white voters to the 6th Congressional District by extending it north through all of Forsyth and Dawson counties and eastern Cherokee County. As a result, the 6th District’s white voting-age population would increase to 63.7%
That makes the reelection prospects of U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, problematic at best. McBath won the seat representing East Cobb, North Fulton and North DeKalb counties in 2018 after it had been in Republican hands for decades.
Under the new map, the 7th Congressional District would take in most of Gwinnett County and a portion of North Fulton, increasing its concentration of minority voters and, thus, making it safer for freshman Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Lawrenceville.
The map also makes the 2nd Congressional District in Southwest Georgia held by Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, more competitive by slightly lowering its Black voting-age population (VAP) and raising its white VAP.
State Sen. John Kennedy, R-Macon, who chairs the Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee, continued stressing, as he has over the past several weeks, that all of the new maps have been drawn in a fair and transparent process.
“This map represents all Georgians, and it has not been gerrymandered,” Kennedy said.
“It’s a pretty map,” he added. “You don’t see funky lines and weirdly drawn lines. It is striking visually.”
After Kennedy spoke, a dozen Senate Democrats went to the well to criticize majority Republicans for drawing a map that likely will give the GOP a 9-5 advantage in Georgia’s congressional delegation, despite wins by Democrats in recent statewide elections that point to a 50-50 partisan split among Peach State voters.
“These gerrymandered maps are an attempt to subvert the will of the people and protect the party in power,” said state Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta.
“There is a driving force behind these changes,” added Sen. Nikki Merritt, D-Grayson. “We know that is preserving a Republican majority. That’s the elephant in the room.”
Sen. Gail Davenport, D-Jonesboro, accused Republicans of targeting women of color, while state Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, was critical that the GOP map would essentially destroy McBath’s reelection chances.
Kennedy criticized Democrats and the map’s opponents for not presenting their arguments earlier in the process, instead of on the last day of debate.
“We learned during Thursday’s committee meeting the Georgia Black Legislative Caucus went around the state and gathered all this important information, but no one thought it was good or credible enough to send it to the redistricting committee for inclusion,” Kennedy said.
“Are we talking about real information Democrats want to be included, or are we are just trying to play the game, that our process was insufficient?”
The House redistricting committee will hold a rare Saturday public hearing on the congressional map, with the proposal expected to come before the full chamber on Monday.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.