Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said he anticipates Republicans will wait until 2012 to redraw districts for the state House and Senate as well as Congress to reflect population growth and shifts.
Ramsey, who is Senate speaker, said figures from the U.S. Census Bureau that are used to determine how much population each state or federal district must have won't be available until March.
"By the time we get our figures on reapportionment, end of March, first of April and enter all of that stuff into a computer, that'll be at least the middle of April," Ramsey said in an interview this week.
Based on his conversations with legislative legal counsel and understanding of past practices, Ramsey said "obviously it'll have to be the No. 1 issue when we come back in 2012 because the filing deadline's [around] the first of April."
This will be the first time in Tennessee history that Republicans, who won dominant majorities in the House and Senate in November, will be in charge of drawing lines. Democrats in the past often used their majorities to gerrymander districts and hurt GOP members, Republicans say.
Memphis attorney John Ryder, a Republican National Committee member who is chairman of the organization's redistricting panel, has said in September that Tennessee Republicans' efforts will be "fair and legal" to withstand expected court challenges.
Republicans' efforts to affect Democrats likely will be made more difficult by the huge majorities GOP representatives and senators rolled up in November. House Republicans went from 50 to 64 members, leaving Democrats with 34 members and one independent. In the Senate, Republicans gained one seat and now have 20 members. There are 13 Democrats.
Republicans also won three congressional districts and now have seven of the nine seats.
Compiled by staff writer Andy Sher. E-mail Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 615-255-0550.