Could GOP grab control of redistricting in Virginia?

February 3, 2011

By Aaron Blake, The Washington Post

This is the ninth in an occasional series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future“. The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on Virginia. (And make sure to check out the first eight installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio,California and Nevada)

Virginia officially kicks off its redistricting process this week when the Census makes it one of the first states to receive detailed population data. (And, yes, we are very excited for this first round of announcements. NERD ALERT.)

The Commonwealth and three other states get their data first, since they hold state legislative sessions in 2011 and need to get their maps drawn fast.

But Virginia Republicans may be in no rush — especially when delaying the process could reap some real benefits.

Control over the redistricting process is currently split in the Commonwealth — a set of circumstances that often leads to compromise between the two parties. But some Republicans say there may be a way for the GOP to gain full control of the process, and all it requires is a little time and a successful 2011 election.

Virginia’s state Senate is still controlled by Democrats and is the one thing standing in the way of total Republican control of redistricting.

With the governorship and the state House firmly under GOP control, Republicans will be gunning for the state Senate in November’s election, when they will have a good shot at taking three of the Democrats’ 22 seats and grabbing a majority.

The question is whether Republicans try to push off the redistricting process until after the election.

They can definitely wait to draw the congressional map, since no federal elections will be held in 2011. Whether they can wait to draw the state legislative districts is an open question.

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