GOP redistricting could flip U.S. House in ’22

Frank CagleFrank Talk

Democrats can be happy that they won the battle for the presidency, but it will be a little while before they realize they lost the war. They are screwed for the next decade. Once they get over Trump Derangement Syndrome they may wake up to that fact.

After 2016 they read up on the electoral college. Now they need to read up on the census, redistricting and gerrymandering.

Frank Cagle

During the Obama administration the Democrats lost close to 1,000 seats in state legislatures. The Democrats hoped to win a lot of them back in a “blue wave” on election day. The blue wave didn’t happen and that puts the Democrats behind the eight ball in two different ways in 2022.

Republicans in state legislatures will be drawing new district lines for legislative and congressional seats. If new Republican seats are created by redistricting it will affect the makeup of the U.S. House. Also, blue states like California, New York and Illinois are expected to lose congressional seats to Texas and Florida and North Carolina.

In simple terms, people in high tax blue states are fleeing to low tax red states.

Red states will gain electoral votes and gerrymandered districts could eliminate Democratic districts. It may be enough for the Republicans to gain control of the House.

To no one’s surprise the Republicans retained control of the Tennessee General Assembly and will be drawing lines as soon as the census numbers come in. The result will not be advantageous to East Tennessee. That’s partly because of simple demographics, and the related personalities involved.

East Tennessee used to be the largest of the state’s three grand divisions, with the population centers of the Tri-Cities, Knoxville and Chattanooga. That’s no longer the case. The huge influx of population in greater Nashville, Brentwood, Murfreesboro and environs means a realignment that will go across the state.

We had gotten used to having Sen. Bob Corker from Chattanooga, Sen. Lamar Alexander from Maryville and Gov. Bill Haslam from Knoxville. Now the people who hold those three jobs all live in Brentwood. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty and Gov. Bill Lee have, or will, replace them.

East Tennessee congressional districts will get some counties added to compensate for bulging populations in Middle Tennessee districts.

The composition of Middle Tennessee congressional districts could become very interesting. Incumbent Republican congressmen do not want Democratic areas added to their district. That’s how Congressmen Steve Cohen and Jim Cooper keep their seats in Memphis and Nashville respectively, since the Republicans have quarantined them in two districts while they control the other seven.

But the militant Trump supporters in the General Assembly may decide they don’t have to bow to the federal office holders. They could split Cooper’s Nashville district and essentially create a new one by moving Democratic areas into districts with Republican suburban voters. If they do that, they create another Republican House member.

Republican legislatures across the country will be wreaking havoc on incumbent Democrats just in time for the 2022 elections.

In Tennessee I would bet that Republican party leaders and officeholders will try and quell such a plan and spare incumbent Republican congressmen the heartburn of having to actually campaign for office in the general election. It will be a fight behind closed doors, but we will be able to see the result eventually.

Cleaning the stables? Activists are once again trying to get strong legislation to stop the abuse of Tennessee Walking Horses where chemicals, chains and high heeled shoes produce a grotesque gait that makes fans cheer. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has headed off strict federal legislation that would punishes malefactors. He and U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn have offered a watered-down bill instead. Alexander’s long-time finance chair is a fellow named Stephen Smith who is a two-term president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association. But Alexander is leaving office and will be replaced by Bill Hagerty. Hagerty’s finance chair is, uh, Stephen Smith.

Completely objective judges: There is a case on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging admission requirements at Harvard. Another suit offers similar complaints against Yale. The suits contend that Harvard and Yale have added subjective criteria in order to limit the number of Asian American students. When either suit reaches the high court, it will be interesting to see what happens. Newly named Justice Amy Barrett is the only justice who did not attend Harvard or Yale. She went to Notre Dame. Four of the eight other justices have law degrees from Harvard and the other four have law degrees from Yale. I’ve looked in vain for someone who has raised the issue of whether the court can be objective on these issues or whether they should all recuse themselves.

Best line of the week: Marvin West observing that a Vol safety practiced “social distancing” covering an Auburn receiver.

Frank Cagle is a veteran newspaper editor and columnist.

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