Roemmelt’s Reapportionment Rumba and Travel Plans

In comments to a previous post Bruce Roemmelt mentioned the potential bloodbath for a state Senate GOP primary between Bob Marshall and Jeff Frederick in 2011, suggesting that Bob (residing in Buckhall precinct in PW Co.) was looking at properties in Brentsville.  His comment got me thinking-those who saw the thick black clouds of smoke arising from Burke had to know something was up-that Bruce’s speculationis exactly the kind of calculation we will see a lot of over the next two years and is indicative of the reapportionment rumba we will be watching.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if Bob will really need to move to get a shot at an open senate seat.

As you know there will be a census in 2010 (which the Obama administration seems intent on politicizing) and a reapportionment to follow which will first kick in during the 2011 General Assembly campaign.  We also know that if the Democrats grab the House this year and hold the governorship they will-cries of purity notwithstanding-will gerrymander the state.

Yes, I know the GOP voted against bi/non-partisan redistricting…more on that another time.  Politically driven reapportionment has been going on for centuries, and it will be no different when the General Assembly convenes in 2011.  That having been said…

Bob Marshall represents HOD 13, but lives in a precinct that sits in VaS 39, currently represented by George Barker.  I don’t know where Jeff Frederick lives, but there are several HOD 52 precincts already in VS 29.  The focus is on Va 29 as it is speculated that state Senator Charles Colgan will step down after this term…and the expectation is that Va 29 as currently composed will send a GOP senator to Richmond in the wake of that retirement.  That is why successive Democratic governors have pushed heavily to see that Colgan did not retire and did run for reelection in 2003 and 2007

However, that focus assumes the district will be apportioned more or less as it has been for the last bazillion years-namely, that as much of Prince William County will be kept together as can be done, and that those boundaries will be drawn from western Prince William and head east.

Background-Prince William by itself was a senate district through the 1960’s and 70’s (and when I say Prince William I mean all towns and cities therein unless otherwise noted).  Starting in 1980 portions of eastern PW Co have been ceded to other Senate districts.  Today, you have the bulk of the county in Va 29 with other parts in the east in VS 39 and VS 36.  Part of this calculation has been that the residence of the PW Co Senator has been in the west.

But what if they do something different in 2011?  What if Colgan retires, and there is no incumbent senator to apportion around?

I ask this question due completely to an observation by Ben Tribbett.  We were discussing the 2007 results, and I commented that the Cooch would need to win AG in 2009 because he would most certainly get a touch draw and a motivated opponent in 2011.  Ben-who is at his best when he analyzes numbers-suggested an alternative view.

What if the Democrats decide that since western Prince William is going to go GOP, they should divvy it up?  What if they draw the district starting in the East, and run it West?

Assuming the numbers work for the Fairfax districts, the logic is that an East to West district would be more likely to pick a D than an R.  You then take the remaining western precincts and divvy them it up to the surrounding Senate districts.

All this is speculation, of course.  But if it happened, that Marshall-Frederick GOP throwdown would happen without Marshall having to move!

But this speculation, like that which is likely bubbling about several districts, all depends on what type strategy the parties take. The majority part in each chamber may decide they want to maximize chances of building a huge majority in the 2011 elections, or it may prefer a smaller bullet-proof majority that will last.

If the Senate Democrats are confident that demographic tides are washing in their favor, they may decide to leave districts much as they are.  They may decide to gun for as big a majority as they can get, and in that case I bet Eastern PW is the focus of a Senate seat, 36 and 39 will pick up parts of 37, and the balance of the current 37 either links with the balance of current Va-29 to create a competitive seat or gets added in piecemeal with other districts.

We shall see…but the redistricting rumba will inspire many such conversations over the next few years, and may impact a whole lot of travel plans!

So Bob-if you are reading this-don’t start packing quite yet.


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