Top Tennessee Republicans have discussed dividing up Nashville into multiple congressional districts, a move that could push Rep. Jim Cooper out of Congress, reports The Hill.
Cooper, a Democrat, represents Tennessee 5th congressional district, which is the focal point of the conversations. He is one of just two U.S. House Democrats from Tennessee.
The district has housed Tennessee and Davidson County and since the 1950s. But Republicans could decide to divide Davidson County, meaning Cooper would have run in a district that favors Republicans.
"Republicans are considering killing me (and any other Democrat) with redistricting, including cutting up Nashville," Cooper said in a statement.
“Voters should continue to choose their elected officials — not the other way around,” Cooper said in a statement introducing the bill in January. “The redistricting process shouldn’t be about protecting the powerful and we need to fix it.”
Redistricting experts say similar the GOP will likely do the same in other states. The GOP holds complete control over the process in 20 states.
“This is a common tactic used by state legislators especially in order to crack voters into different districts,” said Ari Goldbloom-Helzner, a computational research analyst at the Electoral Innovation Lab at Princeton. “It makes it difficult for those groups to constitute a majority in electing a representative of their choice that represents their community.”
“Tennessee has changed dramatically, in a lot of ways,” said Gregory Gleaves, a Republican strategist in Nashville. “I don’t think it would be that unusual for Nashville to get split. It happens in other states. There’s no law saying Davidson County is the one county that can’t be split.”
Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton told Patch the redistricting talk is premature.
"Despite speculation and misinformation by a couple of individuals, there has been no discussions related to the drawing of Tennessee's congressional districts because final data is still unavailable. Unfortunately, based on the delayed release of this census data, the process will have to move along at a quicker pace than normal. Ultimately, the plans will have to pass the General Assembly," spokesman Doug Kufner said in a statement.
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