Georgia to Get a 14th US Congressional District

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(APN) ATLANTA — As a result of the 2010 US Census, the US government has determined that Georgia’s population has experienced sufficient growth in the last ten years to warrant the allocation of a 14th US Congressional District to the state.

Georgia’s population grew to 9,727,566, up from 8,186,453 in 2000, a gain of over 1.5 million people.

In early 2011, the Census will release data on how much the populations of individual cities and counties grew.  This will help determine not only how to re-draw Georgia’s US Congressional Districts, but also its State Senate and House Districts.

As a result of Georgia’s new US House seat, Georgia will also gain a new, sixteenth elector in the Electoral College for US President.

The number of total seats in the US House remains 435.  Every ten years some states gain US House seats, and some states lose them.

The Georgia legislature will determine exactly where the new 14 US Congressional Districts in the state are located.  With the State Senate a Republican majority, the State House almost a Republican super-majority, and Republican Nathan Deal as Governor, the Democrats will struggle to keep Republicans from crafting these new districts entirely in their favor.

But at the same time, Republicans will need to remain wary that Georgia’s redistricting may bring a challenge under the Voting Rights Act, where Georgia remains under the oversight of the US Department of Justice due to historical political disempowerment of Blacks in Georgia.

Republicans will be unable to dissemble majority Black Districts like the 4th, 5th, or 13th in Metro Atlanta.  And they will be under pressure to refrain from diluting the Black voting power in Districts with near-majority Black populations.

According to numerous sources and reports, the new, 14th District is likely to be a heavily Republican District in the northern part of Metro Atlanta.  Cherokee and Forsyth Counties are two of the Metro counties north of Atlanta which have experienced the most growth.  The District may also include part of North Fulton.

If that were the case, the next question becomes how other Districts are impacted by the creation of a new District.

The rumor on the street that one person who would like to run for US Congress is Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.  Numerous APN readers have commented that with all of Reed’s interest in making connections on the national scene, it looks like he has his sights set on something higher than Mayor.  In one scenario, Reed could run for the 14th seat; in another, he could run for US Rep. John Lewis’s (D-GA) seat in the 5th, if Lewis decides to retire.

Former State Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas, who challenged Lewis in the 2008 Democratic Primary, has expressed interest in running for Congress again.

Any changes to Lewis’s current District could make him more vulnerable to a challenger.  He currently benefits from the delicate balance of a District with a supportive Black constituency and a supportive Jewish constituency.  Lewis has been a champion of the Civil Rights Movement and a strong supporter of Israel.

Lewis easily defeated Republican Fenn Little in the 2010 General Election, but due to demographic changes, his District may to lose its majority-Black status, unless he influences the legislature to draw more Black voters into his District out of US Rep. Johnson’s 4th District or US Rep. David Scott’s 13th.

But Republicans may have their eye on some of the more swing districts, where moderate Democrats like US Rep. John Barrow of Savannah (D-GA) and Sanford Bishop of Columbus (D-GA) just barely squeezed by in the 2010 General Election.

Democrats already lost a US House seat in the 2010 General Election, when US Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA), a conservative Democrat, lost to a Republican, Austin Scott, in the 8th Congressional District.

Charles Bullock, a Political Science Professor at University of Georgia, expects the Republican legislature may try to make the 8th District more Republican to protect their gain, according to the Savannah Morning News newspaper.

Tony Center, chairman of the Chatham County Democratic Committee, noted that if Republicans shift Black voters from the 8th to the 12th District in an effort to strengthen the 8th, it opens US Rep. Barrow (D-GA), a White, centrist, up to another Primary challenge.

Former State Sen. Regina Thomas has challenged Barrow in 2008 and 2010; she insisted shortly after the last election that she would not run again.

The Washington Post newspaper’s “The Fix” blog, though, thinks that Republicans may try to pull Black voters from the 8th to the 2nd District, thus strengthening Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) in the 8th, and Rep. Bishop (D-GA) in the 2nd [instead of Barrow in the 12th].

The Cook Political Report has already named Barrow an early target for Republicans for 2012.

“When it comes to Barrow’s eastern 12th district, there are basically two ways for Republicans to make him more vulnerable. One is to move more of heavily Democratic Savannah into Kingston’s district in the southeast; the other is to take more of heavily Democratic Augusta and move it into Broun’s 10th district in the northeast.  But it won’t be easy,” the Post blog reported.

Either move would likely raise criticism from civil rights groups.

CENSUS RESULTS FOR THE NATION

The general trend is that the population continued to move from the Northeast and Midwest US, to the South and West.

Texas will gain the most seats, four, of any state.  Florida will gain the second most, with two.

In addition to Georgia, several states will gain one seat, including Arizona, South Carolina, Nevada, Utah, and Washington.

Several states will lose one seat, including Louisiana, presumably because of Hurricane Katrina.  Many Katrina evacuees came to Georgia, as well as Texas.

In addition to Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania will each lose one seat.  New York and Ohio will each lose two seats.

According to the US Census, there are 308,745,538 people living in the US as of April 01, 2010.  This was a 9.7 percent increase since 2000, when the resident population was 281,421,906.

California continues to be the most populous US state, with over 37 million residents.  Wyoming has the fewest residents with just over 563,000.

While Texas gained the most residents, Nevada grew the most in terms of percentage increase from its 2000 population.

(END / 2010)

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