Richmond, Va, 15 April 2011: Senate of Virginia Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City), Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Stephen D. Newman (R-Lynchburg), and Senators Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Fauquier) and John C. Watkins (R-Powhatan) today applauded Governor McDonnell’s veto of the Senate Democrat Redistricting Plan, sponsored by Senator Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) and contained in House Bill 5001.
“Governor McDonnell has wisely decided to reject the Senate Democrats’ redistricting plan,” Senator Norment said. “Since its introduction, the Senate Democrat plan has been the focus of nearly universal derision, and for good reason.
“The plan disregards the people of Virginia, splitting more communities – by far – than the current map, or the alternative proposals offered by the Governor’s Commission, William and Mary’s winning entry in the student competition, and the plan offered by Senators Watkins and Vogel. Other than the 22 members of the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, it is impossible to find praise for Janet Howell’s hyper-partisan redistricting scheme.
“Senate Republicans are prepared to work with Senate Democrats on a reasonable plan.”
The Senate Democrat plan, which has become commonly known as the Howell Plan, splits 36 counties, 13 cities, and 16 towns. In addition, it creates 3 districts that are not contiguous by vehicular travel over land. Every Senate Democrat voted in favor of the Howell Plan, which failed to receive a single vote from any Senate Republican.
“The Senate Democrats crafted a map that placed their own partisan interests above the best interests of Virginians, leaving Governor McDonnell little choice but to veto it,” remarked Senator Newman. “In stark contrast, the plan for the House of Delegates won strong bi-partisan support, receiving the votes of a majority of the delegates from both parties.
“The Senate Democrats need to start from a clean slate, and work across the aisle to craft a plan that respects the interests of the people of Virginia.”
“The plan approved by the Senate Democrats looks very different from every other proposal that has been introduced, which ought to tell them something,” noted Senator Watkins. “Any redistricting plan should be fair, creating districts that are compact and sensible. This plan did exactly the opposite, creating sprawling and meandering districts that link disparate regions and communities on the sole basis of partisan voting patterns. That’s the wrong way to redistrict, and Governor McDonnell has done the right thing.”
“The Governor has given the Senate Democrats a second chance, and they should use this opportunity to start fresh,” Senator Vogel said. “Counties and cities from across the state are extremely upset about the impact of the Senate Democrat Plan. As a member of the Senate Privileges and Election Committee, I have been hearing from localities about their concerns regarding fair representation. This process is supposed to be about providing effective representation for the citizens, not tailoring plans to the whims of one party or the other. The plan they created is irreparably flawed, and they need to start from scratch.”