by Max Brantley
A Republican plan for congressional redistricting was defeated in Senate committee this morning. Roby Brock reports. Suffice it to say that Sen. Bill Pritchard's map is a blatantly political gerrymander to maximize Republican strength in the districts the party currently holds. Suffice it to say the GOP and their hacks won't call it a gerrymander. Only Democratic plans are gerrymanders. Please look at the map. If it's not a "Finger" I don't know what one is.
Next up in Senate is another Republican-friendly plan to divide the Delta Democratic vote by Republican Sen. Johnny Key. It, too, was described as a fair plan by Republicans and their enablers.
Unless a Democratic senator goes wobbly — always a possibility — it should be defeated, too. It, too, was defeated in committee.
The House was scheduled to vote today on the reviled Fayetteville to the Fourth plan. If it doesn't pass, the Democrats have a shell bill in committee to graft on other permutations. The House Committee defeated another run by Republican Rep. Andrea Lea at a plan most favorable to Republican representatives.
My enthusiasm is low because both Democrats and Republicans seem intent on making the 2nd stronger for Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin. Might as well put Pulaski in the Third with Womack for all the good being done for us here. You could make a barbell of Benton and Pulaski, joined by a corridor through the forested portions of intervening counties like Conway, Pope, Newton and Madison to get the job done. What say?
ALSO: Steve Clark, business community tool as Fayetteville chamber leader, says Sen. Sue Madison and Rep. Greg Leding should resign if they don't oppose the Democratic redistricting plan. Ho hum.
UPDATE — BREAKING NEWS: Roby Brock reports that Rep. Clark Hall will amend his Fayetteville to the Fourth plan this afternoon. What if ... it was all a feint to get what the Democrats really wanted? Just joking. But you have to believe the Republicans will have new reasons to oppose whatever is offered. Unless ... Democrats waffle sufficiently on the plan to unblock the minority Republican tyrants who'd rather end private insurance in Arkansas than accept federal money to begin planning federal law on health care coverage.
UPDATE II — OH NEVER MIND: Hall is making some minor changes to tighten up population deviations, but his bill keeps Fayetteville in the 4th. Changes toward the southern end of the 4th.
UPDATE III — CHANGE OF HEART David Whitaker, Democratic candidate for 3rd District congress last year, sounds here like he's coming around to inevitability of Fayetteville to the 4th.
UPDATE IV — AMENDMENTS: The changes to the Democratic redistricting plan were introduced in an afternoon committee meeting. Here's a photo. A number of changes were made, but not the central issue of contention, Fayetteville. It stays in the 4th. For example: Drew County went back to the 4th District (a concession to the timber industry, apparently). Franklin moved from the 4th to the Third. A small part of Pope moved to the 2nd District. White County goes to the 1st District. Lonoke goes to the 2nd District. Hot Springs Village goes from 2nd back to 4th where it had been. (whew). The amendment was approved and the bill reapproved on a party line vote for consideration in the House later today or tomorrow. I know the Democratic Party must like the looks of this alignment, but it doesn't look so hot to me.