Tennessee Senate Republicans to approve new political boundaries amid Democrats' criticism

Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashvile, looks over a House Republican redistricting plan on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. The once-a-decade redistricting plan follows the 2010 Census and reflects shifting population and political trends. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE - Tennessee Republican senators are poised to approve new lines for state and congressional districts Thursday amid criticism from Democratic lawmakers and others that the maps are racially discriminatory in some instances.

During debate on Senate GOP maps earlier this week, Sen. Brenda Gilmore, a Black Democrat from Nashville, raised concerns about the divisions of Black voters in areas, including Hamilton County, pointing to the plan for state Senate seats.

"When we look at a Hamilton County and the city of Chattanooga, District 10 and 11 places the Black population in Chattanooga into two separate districts," Gilmore told Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin. "Was there any consideration in keeping Hamilton's African American population whole?"

Johnson replied, "The answer to your question is all those considerations were considered."

The majority leader said that with explosive population growth in Nashville and other parts of Middle Tennessee, districts in East Tennessee were pulled west while districts in West Tennessee were pulled east.