Tennessee Senate GOP unveils redistricting map

Tennessee Senate GOP unveils redistricting map

January 4th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Senate Republicans' official redistricting map splits Bradley County, as expected, making the Republican area part of Senate District 10, now held by Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga.

Republicans say Hamilton County "must be split for population equality." Berke's district currently takes in Democratic Marion County, but that is removed in the Senate map and he moves through East Ridge into Bradley County.

"By splitting Bradley it is possible to contain two districts in urban Chattanooga and its suburban environs - a community of common interest," Republicans say in their presentation. "This split gives the Greater Chattanooga area the same treatment the other metropolitan areas in the state get."

But splitting Bradley has drawn objections from Bradley County Republicans.

Berke has previously said he believes he can still win the newly drawn district. But Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, has said he plans to take a look at running in what Republicans believe to be the least a competitive district for them.

Senate Republicans' first redistricting effort in state history also provides some surprises.

It pits two GOP incumbent senators in Middle Tennessee against each other in a redrawn Senate District 25. The seat, now held by Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, adds Robertson County, which is home to Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, who represents Senate District 18.

And Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, will have to deal with Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis, who suddenly finds himself drawn into what is expected to be a GOP-leaning district.

Republicans say in the description of what they call their "regional integrity plan" that the new map pairs four current incumbents into two districts "to meet equal population guidelines - three of these four paired incumbents are Republicans, an indication of the fairness of the overall plan."

The GOP says minority voting strength "is enhanced to an historic level in this proposed Senate map, increasing from three majority-minority Senate districts in the Democrats' drawn map of 2002 to four majority minority districts."

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.