By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report
Gov. Bob McDonnell has vetoed General Assembly redistricting plans saying that he has “significant issues” with the senate reapportionment plan.
While the House of Delegates redistricting plan passed with bipartisan support, the senate plan was criticized for efforts to gerrymander democrats into safe districts and put four Republican senators into two districts. In one case, Sen. Steve Newman of Forest and Sen. Ralph Smith of Roanoke were put into a sprawling district that would have been a four hour round trip from Lynchburg to the West Virginia state line with much of the path through Jefferson National Forest.
In vetoing House Bill 5001, McDonnell sent both chambers’ plans back since they were in the same bill. While McDonnell indicated that the house plan would benefit from some tweaking, the Republican Gov. praised its less partisan approach.
Specifically, McDonnell said the proposed senate districts were not compact and did not properly preserve locality lines and communities of interest.
In a statement released shortly after McDonnell’s announcement, Sen. Newman said McDonnel’s veto was “a wise decision given the impact the Senate plan would have imposed on many of the citizens of the Commonwealth.”
“If an individual near the West Virginia border must travel to Central Virginia to see his or her state senator, a part of our democracy is lost. Similarly if a person on Main Street in Lynchburg must seek out their state senator down near the North Carolina border when three other senators are closer, it diminishes trust in the representative system,” he said.
The Senate plan passed on a straight party-line vote.
Redistricting plans are available online here.