By Tyler Millhouse
RICHMOND, Virginia: The Virginia House of Delegates approved a redistricting plan late Wednesday night which sets new boundaries for the chamber’s 100 seats. The plan was approved by an 86-8 vote, with all 8 nays coming from Democrats. Notably, the plan was opposed by Minority Leader Ward Armstrong.
Under the new maps, Armstrong will be paired with incumbent Republican Donald Merricks. Several other Democrats,including Joe Johnson and Bud Phillips, who will be hurt by the plan either voted against the measure or did not vote.
All the plan’s districts remained within their target of 1% with an average deviation of only .65% or 517 residents. However, the plan has been criticized as overly partisan. Of the 100 newly drawn districts, 73 lean Republican based on data from the 2009 Gubernatorial election. In addition, some observers predict that opponents will challenge the plan on racial grounds since the number of majority-minority districts did not grow. However, none of the House’s minority members voted against the maps.
Ultimately, the house plan and forthcoming senate plan will require the approval of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).