ATLANTA (AP) — A proposal likely to make Georgia’s congressional map more Republican has advanced toward a vote in the state’s General Assembly.
A state Senate committee voted 9-5 along party lines Thursday in favor of Senate Bill 2EX, which is likely to shift Georgia’s 6th Congressional District from Democratic to Republican control. That would bump the overall balance of Georgia’s 14 congressional districts from the current 8-6 Republican margin to a 9-5 GOP edge, despite the fact that statewide the parties are narrowly divided, with Georgia Democrats having been victorious in both the 2020 presidential race and January’s two U.S. Senate runoffs.
The full state Senate is likely to debate the map Friday. It would then have to pass the House and be approved by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Both chambers have already given final approval to redistricting plans that are likely to preserve Republican majorities in the 180-member state House and 56-member state Senate.
Democratic U.S. Rep Lucy McBath currently holds a 6th District seat that includes Atlanta suburbs in Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties. The new proposal draws out strongly Democratic DeKalb areas and replaces them with Republican areas in Cherokee, Dawson and Forsyth counties, further north of Atlanta.
Republicans on the Senate committee on Thursday voted down a Democratic plan that could have resulted in a 7-7 split.
Fair Districts Georgia, a nonpartisan group, has argued that an 8-6 split would most fairly represent Georgia’s current political landscape, where many Democrats are tightly clustered in urban areas. That group and some others are also critical of the Republican map because none of its proposed districts are likely to be competitive among the two major parties.
Democrats and Republicans in legislatures nationwide have been using the redistricting process to try to increase their party’s edge in the narrowly divided Congress. Republicans control more of the 50 statehouses, and hope to leverage this advantage to flip the U.S. House to a GOP majority next year.
Georgia’s population rose nearly 10% to 10.7 million people over the last decade, but Census results showed the growth has been uneven, with most new residents concentrated in the Atlanta area and around Savannah. Most rural areas lost population. The congressional map needed to be adjusted so that each of the 14 districts would have roughly equal populations of about 765,000.
The GOP map also shifts the 7th District in Atlanta’s suburbs, now held by Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, toward Democrats.
Republicans’ 8-6 majority on Georgia’s current congressional map is down from 10-4 a decade ago after McBath and Bourdeaux won.
Link to updated Georgia redistricting maps: Scroll down and click “Proposed Plans” tab to see the maps.