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Proposed 9th district aligns Hall with NE Ga.

Rep. Tom Graves may no longer represent Hall County

POSTED: August 22, 2011 11:05 p.m.

A new proposal for Georgia’s congressional districts means Tom Graves may no longer represent Hall County’s interests in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The new map divides the current 9th Congressional District, and opens all or parts of 20 Northeast Georgia counties for new representation in the U.S. House.

Graves, R-Ranger, would represent an area in the northwest corner of the state stretching from Haralson and Paulding counties north to Dade and Murray counties.

Rep. Phil Gingrey’s district would shrink to include only Bartow, Cherokee and part of Cobb and Fulton counties.

U.S. Rep. John Barrow, the last remaining white Democrat in the House from the Deep South, will see his district shift dramatically. Barrow is based in Savannah, which would no longer be in his district under the proposed map.

Currently, Georgia’s 13-member congressional delegation has an 8-5 Republican majority. The proposed map could increase that advantage to 10-4 if Barrow loses in southeast Georgia and the new northeast Georgia district goes Republican as expected.

Republicans have made huge gains in Georgia since the last full round of redistricting, when Democrats led the state. The GOP now holds every statewide office and the majority in both legislative chambers, giving it control of the partisan map-making process for the first time.

Georgia’s General Assembly is beginning its second week of a special session to redraw the state’s political boundaries in accordance with new population numbers provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Republican-drawn maps for state House and Senate districts were given an easy pass last week, and each sits in the hands of the opposite chamber.

Also on Monday, the state Senate committee charged with reviewing a plan for new state House districts in Georgia has given the map a pass.

Likewise, a House committee on reapportionment passed a map of Senate districts; both decisions send the maps to the Rules committee, which will decide when the maps will receive a final vote in each chamber.

The Senate committee deliberated for less than an hour on the House districts Monday and accepted no substitutions.

It is tradition in Georgia for each chamber to accept the district map drawn by the other chamber without revision.

Still, two Southeast Georgia representatives made an effort to have their House districts redrawn.

Neither Rep. Mark Hatfield, R-Waycross, nor Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, were allowed to submit their proposal for Southeast Georgia districts Monday.

The plan would have kept the two men from having to battle at the polls for control of their districts.

But Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, chairman of the Senate’s reapportionment committee, said the plan had not been submitted in time to be considered by the committee.

Seabuagh said a substitute map needed to be submitted at least 24 hours before Monday’s hearing to be considered by the committee. He told the representatives they would have to take their proposed changes up in January.

A substitution also did not come for the House districts that include Hall County.

Lawmakers from the area have said they have been negotiating behind the scenes to get the local delegation reduced for the county.

No sign of that negotiation surfaced Monday and neither member of the House delegation was present at the meeting.

A spokesman for the governor said Nathan Deal will continue to work to see changes to the state House map as it pertains to Hall County.

And just as Seabaugh said about the Southeast Georgia districts, Deal spokesman Brian Robinson also hinted that the maps could change after legislators approve them.

“It may have to wait till January, but we do hope to see changes,” Robinson said.

Before the maps can be approved, they are subject to federal scrutiny under the Voting Rights Act, which is designed to protect African-American voters. Deal, a former congressman, said he thinks the maps are fair and will pass muster with the Justice Department or federal courts.

Associated Press contributed to this report.



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