BREAKING OVERNIGHT: GA Senate unveils congressional map draft

Proposed plan makes 6th District more competitive, secures 7th for Dems

The General Assembly’s special redistricting session does not begin for another month. But Republican state legislators, who will have full control over the decennial process, unveiled their first of what will likely be several congressional map drafts on Monday. The biggest changes are in two suburban districts recently won by Democrats.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and Senate Redistricting chairman John Kennedy issued a joint statement on Monday evening regarding their proposed congressional map. The two Republican leaders argued that their proposal meets the requirements set by the legislature and that they will continue to receive input from Georgians over the next month.

Congressional map draft

Republican mapmakers appear to be targeting Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath, who flipped the once-reliably Republican 6th District in 2018 in what was seen as a huge upset. On the proposed map, McBath’s suburban district would take in Forsyth County, one of the reddest counties in metro Atlanta. Assuming that this map is passed, the two-term Democrat would be running for re-election in a much more competitive district than the one she currently represents.

Next door, however, Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux’s 7th District goes from being highly competitive to solidly Democratic. Under this plan, Bourdeaux’s district would be located almost entirely within solidly Democratic Gwinnett County, which gave President Joe Biden more than 58% of the vote in last year’s election.

Elsewhere, congressional districts located south of I-20 appear to take in more counties in order to account for population losses reflected in the 2020 census. The 2nd District, which is represented by Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop, shifts slightly northward into Harris County. GOP Rep. Rick Allen’s 12th district now has all of Columbia County.

In North Georgia, controversial GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s conservative 14th District expands eastward to take in part of Bartow County. Freshman GOP Rep. Andrew Clyde currently represents the 9th district, but on this proposal, his home county of Jackson is located in the 10th district.

Out with the old, in with the new(?)

For comparative purposes, here are the 2020 presidential election results on the current map (left) and Monday’s proposal (right). On the current map, President Biden would won 6 districts while former President Trump won 8. Monday’s proposal would reduce that breakdown to 9 Trump districts and 5 Biden districts.

McBath’s current 6th district voted for Biden by 11 percentage points. But it would become Trump+6 on Monday’s proposal, because it would include all of Republican-leaning Forsyth County, which voted for the former President by over 30 points last year. A Trump+6 district would not be completely off the table for Democrats, but it would no doubt be challenging in a Democratic midterm. Furthermore, there is only one House Democrat who currently represents a district that Trump won by more than 5 points. McBath’s campaign has not yet released an official statement and was unable to be reached for comment Monday night.

Bourdeaux’s 7th district, meanwhile, would transform into a solidly Democratic seat. Her current district voted for Biden by about 6 points, but Monday’s draft converts the Gwinnett-based 7th into a Biden+24 seat. Bourdeaux, who eked out a 10,000-vote victory last year, would coast to re-election on this proposal.

Interestingly, the proposal does little to address the Democratic uptick in the 11th district, where Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk has seen his margins dip in recent cycles. In 2020, the current 11th was Trump+15. Monday’s proposal would reduce that margin to Trump+12. That may be secure for now, but considering the leftward trends across the Atlanta suburbs, there’s no telling how competitive this district could be by the end of the decade.

Political Musical Chairs

The proposed map also kicks off a game of political musical chairs in some of Georgia’s most competitive congressional races. Candidates who have already announced must now begin deciding whether to continue their campaigns in their current district, move elsewhere to run in more favorable districts, or end their campaigns altogether. We may also see other candidates emerge in the coming weeks and months.

In the 6th District, McBath is currently facing opposition from several Republican challengers, including former State Rep. Meagan Hanson, Georgia Ethics Commission chairman Jake Evans and Army veteran Harold Earls. With the district likely becoming more competitive, some candidates may feel pressure from their opponents — and from national Republicans — to run in other districts or end their campaigns so that the party can coalesce around a candidate to take on the well-funded McBath.

Bourdeaux’s 2020 opponent, emergency room physician Rich McCormick, announced that he would seek a 2022 rematch shortly after his defeat last year. But he would face an uphill climb in the 7th district on this proposed map, making a rematch with Bourdeaux unlikely. Will he run in another district or end his bid for Congress altogether?

One more thing to keep an eye on if this map is passed: who runs in the 9th. As mentioned above, Rep. Andrew Clyde would live in the 10th under this proposal, creating somewhat of an opening in the mountainous 9th district. Could former Rep. Doug Collins (R) seek to return to Congress following his unsuccessful Senate run? His home county of Hall is located entirely within this 9th district, and he would surely scare off any opponents in a Republican primary if he were to mount a comeback given his name recognition and fundraising prowess.

Of course, it’s also likely that Clyde could run for re-election in 9th. His home county may not be in the 9th, but it still includes a vast majority of the district that he currently represents. In other words, running there would likely be easier than running in a new district and having to introduce yourself to new voters. Keep in mind that you do not have to be a resident of the district you wish to represent when running for Congress — you must only be a resident of the state where the district is located.

What’s next?

Please remember that Monday’s proposal is the first of what will likely be many. It’s highly unlikely that this map will end up being the final map, but it gives us a good idea of what the maps may end up looking like.

The special session to redraw maps does not begin until November 3, so we will likely see several maps float around between now and then. We will not know what the final map will look like for, at the latest, another 2 months. Speculation and number-crunching may be fun, but it’s also best that we remain patient as the process is still in its early stages.