Gerrymandering Republicans Go After Senate Democratic Stars

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Republicans went public with their Senate redistricting plan this afternoon, and this time it's Democrats Jim Kyle and Andy Berke who are victimized. Also in a surprise, Republicans did it to one of their own, gerrymandering freshman Kerry Roberts out of office. What did he do wrong?

The map throws Kyle—the Senate Democratic leader from Memphis—into the same district as right-wing crusader Brian Kelsey. It adds the Republican-leaning parts of Bradley County to Berke's southeast Tennessee district. Berke, an articulate liberal, is seen as one of the state Democratic Party's few rising stars.

Roberts, who represents Diane Black's old Middle Tennessee district, goes into the district of GOP Sen. Jim Summerville. Summerville's not standing for reelection until 2014, but Roberts' term is up this year, so that means Roberts is done after this year's session. Both Summerville and Roberts were fluke winners in their elections.

"We were committed to drawing a fair and legal state senate map and that is exactly what we have done.” said Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. “The map emphasizes regional integrity and adheres to state and federal laws as well as court precedent. I look forward to concluding the redistricting process swiftly and efficiently as soon as we go into session next week.”

Update: “We are reviewing the maps presented to us and are consulting our caucus members regarding the proposed changes,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney said. “This is the first time that our members have seen any official redistricting maps, and the first opportunity to view this specific map. We are committed to an open and public process as this issue greets us at the beginning of a new legislative session, and we will work to resolve any redistricting issues in a fair and timely manner so that we can move forward to the remaining business of the General Assembly."

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