TN congressional map

The proposed congressional district map for Tennessee.

(The Center Square) – The Tennessee House Select Committee on Redistricting unveiled its proposed congressional district map Wednesday, dividing Nashville and Davidson County into three districts.

The proposal, sent by House Select Committee on Redistricting Vice Chair Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, draws new lines for the nine congressional districts in the state. Nashville and Davidson County had been contained in the Fifth Congressional District.

States are required to redraw legislative maps every 10 years based upon U.S. census data. Tennessee has until April 7 to approve new maps.

Eight of the congressional districts in the plan, which was approved Wednesday by the committee, have 767,871 voters, and one district has one additional voter. No incumbents were paired in the maps.

“When this map was unveiled, you could see the air suck out of this room,” state Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, said. “… This is a vicious map.”

Parkinson said the map would give a “100-year advantage” to the state’s Republican Party.

“I knew that there would be some surprises,” Parkinson said of the redistricting process. “I didn’t know it would be to this extent.”

The committee did not hear about a new state Senate maps during the meeting as they are still being modified, according to committee chair Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville. The Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Redistricting is scheduled to meet Thursday morning.

“As I said in our December meeting, despite the unprecedented delay in the delivery of the census data, this committee has worked diligently and timely to produce a fair and constitutional redistricting plan,” Johnson said.

Doug Himes, counsel for the Select Committee on Redistricting, presented the committee plan, which was approved along with the Tennessee House redistricting plan by the House Public Service Subcommittee on Wednesday afternoon. Both plans will be heard by the House State Government Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 18.

Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, filed a motion to delay voting on the new congressional map until the next meeting of the committee, saying many Democratic leaders had not seen the map proposal until that meeting. Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, opposed the motion, saying it didn’t make sense to “stonewall” the process as several other committees and the full House still would be discussing and voting on the maps.

Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Nashville, presented the Democratic Caucus' proposed map during the meeting and asked Himes about the racial makeup of the new districts. The Ninth Congressional District, represented by Democrat Steve Cohen, is a majority minority district with 30% white voters and 58% Black voters, Himes said.

The new Fifth Congressional District would be 11.76% Black voters and 73.24% white, and the Sixth Congressional District would be 81.8% white and 8.64% Black voters. The Seventh Congressional would be 15.53% Black voters and 73.37% white.

Staff Reporter

Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.