Virginia Republicans are shortchanged in the redistricting plan advanced by the state’s supposedly “bipartisan” Advisory Commission last week. A consultant to the commission, George Mason University professor Michael McDonald, presented draft congressional-redistricting maps last week. Despite thousands of plan options, McDonald’s maps would carve House Majority Leader Eric Cantor out of his congressional seat.
How curious that an “apolitical” redistricting plan would torpedo the first Virginian and Jewish man ever to serve as House majority leader. Curiouser still that a second draft plan lodged with the commission just coincidentally drew Republican congressmen Frank Wolf, Randy Forbes, and Morgan Griffith out of their districts, too.
This is not all that surprising to those of us who recently attended the annual meeting of the state association of Virginia election officials. Professor McDonald was a featured speaker at that meeting, and his first PowerPoint slide thanked the Brennan Center for Justice for its help on his redistricting work.
The Brennan Center is the most consistently left-wing advocacy organization working on electoral issues. McDonald’s slide specifically thanked Justin Levitt, a Brennan Center counsel who has worked for several Democratic presidential campaigns and is the former in-house counsel for America Coming Together. Levitt has been prominent in pushing the Brennan Center’s line that voter fraud is a myth and that voter ID requirements are just a way to suppress minority voters.
In reviewing the Advisory Commission’s recommendations, the Virginia legislature should exercise extreme caution and apply some common sense and understanding to the task. They might start by questioning why the commission would use consultants so closely tied to left-wing advocacy organizations or Democratic activists who have worked to elect Democratic candidates.
True bipartisanship should not favor one particular party.