by Max Brantley
Late word is that polling of the House State Agencies committee indicates the Senate congressional redistricting plan won't be approved in the committee tomorrow. This won't be much of a shock to senators.
What then? Amendments. Some Democrats contend the Senate plan approved yesterday, even with some minor changes to bring around South Arkansas Democrats, produces as good a possible outcome of voter preferences in each of the respective districts as the bill preferred by the House, with the extension of the 4th District into Fayetteville. That is, either plan guarantees a solid Republican 3rd District and a decent split — based on historical voting patterns — for Democrats in the other three. This, again, is based on a presumption that history means anything anymore.
Democrats were intent on Fayetteville — and many will accept Russellville as a compromise expansion zone — as growth areas for the 4th District because it makes sense to expand where population is growing, rather than losing ground immediately with an assembly of mostly moribund counties. Fayetteville is obviously better than Russellville from a Democratic point of view. But Democrats, perhaps whistling past the graveyard, insist the city of Russellville is better than Pope County as a whole politically and the county is split in the Senate plan.
Some still think something akin to the Russellville expansion can pass, with some accommodations to South Arkansas legislators. Ashley County, for the moment, is the center of this particular universe. Whoddathunk?
I'm further informed there's a House amendment that should see favor in the House. Who knows? It might satisfy Senate Democrats sufficiently for a majority vote.