NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A new map proposed by Tennessee Republicans could split some counties into new districts.
As it stands now, the map would carve Davidson County District 5 — the seat held by Rep. Jim Cooper — into three different districts. Williamson County would split into two.
"Well, if you look at what other states have done, California has less than nine republican districts. New York is taking six republican districts," Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton said. "I don't hear them complaining about what's happening in those states. You know, what we've done here is making sure we comply with the voter rights act, which is what we did. And our population of the state has moved to Middle Tennessee. The fifth district was the last district that was drawn. So, what was left over is what we gave the fifth district."
The newly proposed District 5 would take shape with six counties: south Davidson, east Williamson, west Wilson, pieces of Lewis, parts of Maury and a slice of Marshall County.
House Republicans said the new map would not overstep the Voting Rights Act.
"This concept complies with all federal and statutory requirements," Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, said. "This concept creates 9 districts including one majority-minority district."
But House Democrats felt differently.
The Wednesday announcement sparked alarm among Democratic leaders who warned the new map unfairly affects Black voters and will face legal challenges.
For months, Democratic lawmakers and community activists have pleaded with GOP lawmakers to keep Nashville’s U.S. House seat whole, arguing that the Davidson County district has remained intact for nearly 200 years. However, they’ve had very little sway inside the Republican-controlled General Assembly as it moves through its once-a-decade task of carving new legislative and congressional districts.
"The voters in East Nashville, what do they have in common with the voters in Fentress County?" Bob Freeman, D-Nashville, said. "What could very likely happen and I would guess would happen, is we will have representatives from rural Tennessee that are going to be conflicted as to whether or not they go to D.C. and fight for Davidson County."
Sen. Heidi Campbell, chairwoman of the Davidson County delegation, said feedback given to her and other Democrats was that her constituents wanted their county all in one district.
"Since the districting process began, we have consistently called for communities, like our cities and counties, to be kept together," Campbell said. "A community, like a city or county, has specific needs that only get addressed when elected officials are responsive to voters. Just like voters have the ability to hold mayors accountable for addressing their community’s needs, so should voters be able to hold their legislative representatives to account."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.