Congressional districting rumor mill UPDATE II | Arkansas Blog

Congressional districting rumor mill UPDATE II

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I was inclined to reject this out-of-hand as as hoax. But it's not.

A devoted reader sends along an e-mail from Steve Clark, leader of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, to various community and elected leaders objecting to a purported congressional redistricting idea that would move Fayetteville and perhaps all of Washington County into the Fourth Congressional District. It's now in the Republican 3rd.

It's a long, serious note. I won't trouble to repeat it all. I've sent notes to Clark and the purported chamber employee who sent the note. I vote for hoax until I hear otherwise. UPDATE: Clark's assistant confirms it's genuine.

It is, of course, nuts. The road to Fayetteville for 4th District expansion would pass through Sebastian or Crawford County. Any Democratic gains in Fayetteville (and Dems there are rapidly being driven into an elitist warren around UA, sort of a Democratic Alamo) wouldn't help the incumbent Democrat much. Many of the Democrats I know in Fayetteville wouldn't vote for Mike Ross if they could help it.

It could be true that somebody proposed this sprawling gerrymander for one reason or another. We don't know who. That's unsaid in Clark's note. Chambers of Commerce do like to stay busy stirring up fanciful nightmare scenarios — living wages, decent health benefits, unions, an end to corporate welfare — to fire up the troops.

Could we draw a plan that moved Pulaski County into Travis County, Texas, and also linked Santa Fe?

UPDATE: Roby Brock also says the memo is real and based on an idea — still unsourced, which is a key point to remember — that would reach a Fourth District tentacle into Fayetteville through Johnson, Franklin and Madison County territory. I still say, though it might be some odd person's actual idea, it's a non-starter. Of more relevant discussion is Roby's talk of the debate over moving Sebastian to the Fourth from the Third.

UPDATE II: I may have written off this idea prematurely. It has more interest than I thought. In a week, when some maps start emerging, we'll perhaps see if it makes more sense than first might be apparent. Roping off Fayetteville for the 4th would, over the long haul, help the 4th, Ross or no Ross. It's true, too, that emphasizing the distance between Fayetteville and Texarkana is a little misleading. The 4th is going to be humongous no matter what.

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