The tweaks came amid continued Democratic protests that Republicans, who control both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s office, were purposely diluting the power of minority voters. Among those objecting: U.S. Rep. John Lewis, whose 5th District stands to lose a portion of the city of Atlanta.
“Elimination of multiracial coalitions was not and has never been the goal of the Voting Rights Act,” the Democrat told members of the House redistricting committee.
“Regardless of who should be in the White House, regardless of who should be in Congress, I do strongly believe our great capital city would be well-served” by having both Democratic and Republican representation, said Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta. Drawing Lewis out of the city’s affluent Buckhead area, where Lindsey lives, was “not in any way meant to be disrespectful to you. You’ve been a good advocate,” he told the civil rights icon.
Other changes approved by the committee included moving Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta back into the 1st Congressional District of U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, a Savannah Republican. The original draft map had placed the base into the new 8th District of Republican Austin Scott of Tifton.
Also tweaked were the 11th and 6th Districts, represented by Republicans Phil Gingrey and Tom Price, respectively. The updated plan would give Gingrey more of Fulton County and Price more of Cobb County.
In southwest Georgia, changes were made to the 2nd District seat of Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop. The original plan split Muscogee County between Bishop’s district and the 3rd District of Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland. A split remains, but the line has shifted between the two districts.
Westmoreland’s district also gained more of Fayette County while the 13th District seat of Democratic U.S. Rep. David Scott was moved farther into Henry County.