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Staff File Photo by Matt Hamilton / Although the geographic makeup of his district was changed in the county's recent redistricting process, Hamilton County District 4 Commissioner Warren Mackey appears a safe bet to win his re-election race if he chooses to run in 2022.

A week after Hamilton County's new redistricting map was drawn, some quarters are still reacting to what people on both sides said was the most transparent process in recent history.

Nevertheless, there's still grumbling, with one Democratic commissioner suggesting over the weekend that racial gerrymandering took place and calling it "a terrible map."

Then, we noted the conservative Hamilton Flourishing newsletter opined that the change in Warren Mackey's District 4 ensured "it will be harder for him to win his re-election campaign."

That did not ring true to us, having followed the changes very closely since the commission decided to divvy up the county in 11 districts following the decennial census.

Yes, Mackey lost a large portion of his district in South Chattanooga, but our reading of his new district — which has a minority population of 52% — indicates he shouldn't have any trouble winning it.

Now, voters can sour on any candidate at any time for any reason, but the commissioner is still a Democrat in a heavily Democratic district. We ran the numbers — 100% scientific though they are not — to be sure of our belief.

Using the old election precincts in Mackey's new district (though the district boundaries are created from census blocks), we wanted to see how his new district voted in the 2020 presidential election between incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and then-former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, and how it voted in the same election in the state Senate contest between incumbent Republican Todd Gardenhire and Chattanooga assistant police chief Glenn Scruggs, a Democrat.

It was no contest in either race. Biden swamped Trump with 11,619 votes to 3,060, a more than 5-to-1 shellacking. And Scruggs outdistanced Gardenhire, 9,101 votes to 2,196.

We say it is not scientific because only parts of some of the precincts will be in Mackey's district, but we feel the differences would be minor.

That's not to say the commissioner couldn't be challenged in the May 2022 Democratic primary, but we see little possibility of a Democrat not winning the district in the subsequent August general election.

We also were curious about Democratic Hamilton County Commissioner David Sharpe's District 6, which lost territory on the south side of the Tennessee River and picked up parts of four districts previously represented by Republican District 2 Commissioner Chip Baker and two previously represented by Republican District 3 Commissioner Greg Martin.

Four of the six new precincts voted for Trump over Biden and cast more ballots for Republicans in their 2018 county commission races. So we wondered if the commissioner could be in trouble in 2022.

His new district, using the old voting precincts, gave Biden about a 1,650 vote edge and Democratic commission candidates a 325-vote edge in 2018. If the president continues his dramatic drop in approval, that could provide an opening for a popular Republican commission candidate. But we figure with things as they are right now, Sharpe could win re-election if he chooses to run.

As to the two new districts, we had speculated with the first 11-district map presented that the districts would be split, with Republicans having a huge edge in the new District 10 along part of the eastern edge of the county and Democrats having a sizable advantage in the new District 11 that runs along the southern edge of the county as far east as Missionary Ridge.

Although both those districts changed a little since the first map, we believe our original analysis is still correct. The numbers from previous elections prove it.

In the fast-growing new District 10, based on the old voting precincts, Trump crushed Biden in 2020, 17,595 votes to 8,850 votes, almost a 2-to-1 margin.

In the more staid new District 11, Biden overwhelmed Trump, 9,662 votes to 5,933 votes, while Scruggs easily surpassed Gardenhire, 9,243 votes to 6,471 votes.

As we noted last week, if the above numbers remain approximately consistent, Republicans will have seven members on the new 11-person commission (Districts 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 and 10) and Democrats will have four (Districts 4, 5, 6 and 11), with perhaps three of those being minorities.

The way we see it, if the redistricting process was racially gerrymandered by the Republican majority on the commission and is in fact a "terrible map," we would be curious to see what the map would look like if Republicans had really decided to help themselves.

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