Tennessee Senate OKs congressional redistricting; plan goes to Gov. Haslam

Tennessee Senate OKs congressional redistricting; plan goes to Gov. Haslam

January 13th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Gov. Bill Haslam speaks to reporters in this file photo.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Senate Republicans this afternoon approved state House and congressional redistricting plans, sending the redrawn districts to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

The House plan passed 24-9, which favors Republicans, with no debate. Most Democrats voted against it.

Earlier, they voted 23-10, again along mostly partisan lines, and approved the congressional plan.

The congressional plan substantially changes Tennessee's 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts. Among other things it splits Bradley County, putting most of the county in the 4th District and leaving a portion in the 3rd.

The 4th District now stretches from Cleveland to Rutherford County where Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, is mulling challenging freshman U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in this August's GOP primary.

It maintains two major media markets in the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Chattanooga and Oak Ridge, which many believe should benefit incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischman, who faces opposition from Republican Weston Wamp in the GOP primary.

Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere, an announced candidate in the 4th Congressional District considered offering an amendment that prevented splitting Bradley and kept it in the 3rd District. It also would have inserted Coffee County back into the 4th. But he said he recognized a "cool wind" was blowing from Republicans and did not pursue the amendment.

Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, who represents Bradley voted for the GOP plan. He has said he tried to persuade GOP colleagues to stop the split but failed. Republicans defeated an amendment offered by Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, to make changes in the 8th and 9th Congressional Districts in West Tennessee.