Georgia’s Dems get what they wanted…and maybe what they deserved

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well, you might find
You get what you need

You Can’t Always Get What You Want, by the Rolling Stones.

Georgia’s Democrats went to court fully expecting a judicial remedy to the GOP drawn Congressional and Legislative District maps that, oddly enough, favored the GOP. Let’s not forget that the Democrats were silent in 2001 when the Democratic majority drew maps that oddly favored the Democrats, but who’s noticing that? Today, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones upheld the GOP maps that were drawn during the special legislative session in early December as being acceptable in light of his October 26 order. In his ruling, Judge Jones, and Obama appointee, said, “Redistricting decisions by a legislative body with an eye toward securing partisan advantage does not alone violate [the Voting Rights Act]…The court finds that the General Assembly fully complied with this court’s order requiring the creation of a majority-Black congressional district in the region of the state where vote dilution was found.”

This has to be a shock to Democrats like Sandy Springs attorney and Democratic State Senator Josh McLaurin who told the AJC after the the new maps were passed in December that the new maps were giving him, “special-master vibes.

It is unknown if those “vibes” in any way resembled the “thrill” that once ran up Chris Matthews’s leg when he heard Barack Obama speak, but that’s not important for this post.

“Republicans are acting like they are following the court’s order by making any new majority-Black districts, regardless of where they are,” said McLaurin.

Whether it was a “vibe” or a “thrill,” either way, the feeling has to be gone now that Jones has greenlighted the new GOP maps.

The fact is the minority party challenging maps is the norm, not the exception, something I noted to the AJC back in November. But unless the maps were wildly drawn, like they were in 2001 with multi-member districts in some parts of the state, the fallout is not always on the majority party.

In areas where the legislature had to redrawn seats to boost minority voting strength, it was typically white, suburban Democratic legislators who suffered the consequences. New State House maps in Cobb County resulted in Doug Stoner‘s district in Smyrna paired with former legacy Peach Pundit contributor Rep. Teri Anulewicz‘s. Two other sets of Democrats are paired (called “stacking” in Gerrymandering lingo because two or more incumbents of the same party are “stacked” in the same district): Gregg Kennard and Sam Park and Rep. Becky Evans is paired with fellow Rep. Saira Draper. Only two Republicans were stacked, State Rep. David Knight of Griffin is paired with Rep. Beth Camp of Concord. The net result is two new majority black Democratic districts and the elimination of white (and/or Asian if Sam Park were to lose that primary battle) versus what Democrats thought they were going to get.

According to the analysis by GPB, “The Senate GOP map accomplishes [the addition of two new majority-Black districts] by changing the contours of two majority-white districts held by Democrats — the north Atlanta 6th district of Sen. Jason Esteves and the Decatur-based 42nd district of Sen. Elena Parent — and redrawing boundaries of several other districts to have two ‘new’ majority-Black districts based in Douglas and Henry counties but keeping all incumbents intact.”

In other words, the maps do not change the partisan balance of the State Senate.

The Rolling Stones once sang, “You can’t always get what you wantBut if you try sometimes, well, you might find you get what you need.”

When Georgia’s Democrats launched their suit against the maps, they may have gotten what they wanted, the original GOP maps thrown out, but they didn’t get what they needed…a significant boost towards a legislative majority, and they may have gotten what they deserved…with several of their legislative leaders in the Atlanta suburbs finding themselves in forced early retirement.

For now, the Democrats and their allies have vowed to fight on and while Jones’s initial ruling was trumpeted and declared to be de facto proof of GOP racism, the response is more muted, “We believe that these maps continue to violate … the Voting Rights Act and dilute the voting strength of Black voters,” said Rahul Garabadu, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “But no matter what, our fight to ensure fair voting practices in Georgia will continue.”

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