'It's pitted several of us against each other.' Tenn. Democrats oppose state's redistricting plan

tennessee capitol hill
Posted at 7:08 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 09:13:26-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A state Republican-led redistricting plan could end up in court after receiving opposition from Democrat legislators.

The current proposal, backed by the Republican-controlled legislature, puts several Democrats into districts together, which could mean they face each other in the 2022 election.

Nashville Democrat Rep. Vincent Dixie said he believes the changes were intentionally made because the plan alters his current district so that his house is part of a northern district. It puts him in the same district as fellow Democrat Rep. Bo Mitchell.

"In Davidson County it's pitted several of us against each other," said Rep. Dixie. "There's no reason for that because the numbers or the growth doesn't support that. It's the same in Knox County as well."

Census data from 2020 is used to create redistricting plans. While the area around Memphis has not increased in size, Middle Tennessee has grown considerably. The new proposal also has one fewer district in Shelby County. Democrats hoped to keep that seat.

"The constituents aren't getting a fair representation," said Dixie. "You have the elected officials picking who they want to represent rather than the constituents picking their representation. That's an issue."

Dixie said the Democrats will submit their own plan that doesn't split the urban districts. He also said they will take the issue to court.

"We think that our plan is the most constitutional and it passes all the muster for the voting rights act. We're going to submit that and we'll file a lawsuit to make sure we will have our day in court," he said.

Speaker Cameron Sexton's office released the following statement about the Republican plan:

Rep. Dixie and the democrats’ claims regarding the House redistricting proposal aren’t accurate. The framework for the plan is data obtained from the 2020 census; according to this data, Middle Tennessee saw the highest concentration of population growth, causing a three-seat shift in representation to this region. Our proposal reflects this shift, while also meeting all state and federal constitutional and statutory requirements. I appreciate members of the first-ever bipartisan Select Committee on Redistricting for creating a plan that is both fair and constitutional, and one that represents the distinctive voices of all Tennesseans.