published Friday, January 13th, 2012

Nashville: Tennessee Senate and House OK GOP redistricting plan with tweaks to help Sen. Andy Berke

NASHVILLE — The Senate this afternoon approved a Republican redistricting plan containing last-minute changes expected to give Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, more of a fighting chance should he decide to run for reelection to his Senate District 10 seat.

Berke joined in voting for the GOP plan as did Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis. It passed on a 21-12 vote and now goes to the Republican-led House, which approved the plan by a 60-29 vote. The plan now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature.

Earlier, Republicans turned their thumbs down on a Democratic plan that treated Democrats more favorably. Berke voted for that plan. It was tabled on a 20-13 vote.

The plan redraws all 33 Senate district in accordance with population growth and shifts as reflected in the 2010 U.S. Census.

Shifts of a number of Democratic-leaning precincts in Hamilton County like Glenwood and Dalewood back into the 10th District proved enough to persuade Berke to vote for the GOP’s plan, despite the inclusion of Republican areas such as East Ridge and a chunk of Bradley County.

Republicans said privately the new district was won by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in his highly competitive 2006 race by about 52 percent. Other Republicans like Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and 2008 GOP presidential nominee fared better.

Before the vote, Berke said he planned to vote for it after Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson, agreed to shift back to his 10th Senatorial District a number of Berke precincts that would have gone into Watson’s 11th Senatorial District.

“Sen. Watson and I sat down and looked at a number of the precincts in Hamilton County. There were a number of precincts that made more sense to be in the 10th District because of the commonality of interest. They didn’t make all the changes I requested but they made some,” he said.

Berke said he would support the plan in the “spirit of trying to make sure that those precincts go into the 10th.”

Read more in tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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