New congressional map will expand GOP majority
Republican-drawn map seeks to undercut recent Democratic suburban gains
The congressional map that Georgia Democrats have dreaded all year has finally been released.
Republican state legislators, who have full control over the decennial redistricting process, have introduced a congressional map that will likely expand their majority in the states 14-member delegation.
Republicans currently hold an 8-6 lead in the delegation. Wednesday’s joint congressional map seeks to expand that majority by one seat. The plan would undercut recent Democratic gains in the metro Atlanta suburbs, where Republicans had dominated for several decades.
Nationwide, Democrats are clinging to a narrow five-seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. If this proposal is enacted, the Republicans’ path to a majority will run right through Georgia, where they will very likely pick up one seat.
Let’s take a closer look at just how this map is drawn.
Wednesday's draft makes the suburban 6th district more conservative by taking in more exurban and rural counties in north Georgia. Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath, who currently represents a district that gave now-President Joe Biden nearly 55% of the vote, now finds herself in a district that former President Donald Trump would have carried with more than 56% of the vote — a configuration that likely won’t be winnable for the two-term Democrat.
Next door, freshman Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux’s 7th district becomes solidly Democratic. The district will now be drawn almost entirely within diversifying Gwinnett County. Bourdeaux, a Democrat who narrowly flipped the district in 2020 after falling short the previous cycle, now sits in a district that would have given Biden more than 60% of the vote. However, this configuration has many wondering if Bourdeuax, a white Blue Dog who has taken stances against some parts of the President’s agenda, could be vulnerable to a primary challenge from her left.
Down in Southwest Georgia, Republican lawmakers seem to have avoided making any significant changes to the 2nd district, which has been held by Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop since 1993. Many voting rights lawyers believe that any significant changes to the 2nd could have resulted in federal lawsuits given the district’s sizable Black population. Under the new map, the 2nd remains a double-digit Biden district.
Elsewhere, controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s conservative 14th district now extends into the southwestern portion of Cobb County, taking in Austell and Powder Springs. Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde currently represents the 9th district, but his home county of Jackson is now within the 10th district.
Greg Bluestein @bluesteinHere are better images of the maps, which make the Democratic-held 6th District a solid Republican seat: #gapol https://t.co/YAJYzl992n
WWLD (What Will Lucy Do?)
The new district creates an awkward situation for McBath. With her district no longer winnable, she must now decide whether she wants to run in another district, run for a statewide position or even retire from Congress altogether.
Shortly after the map’s release, McBath took to Twitter says that the new map only “strengthens my resolve to resolve to stay in Congress” and shared her ActBlue fundraising page, a signal that she plans to run in another district. But she did not specify which district she would be running in.
If she were to run elsewhere, reports indicate that it would likely be in the 7th district. She may not live in the district, but members of Congress are not required to live in the district that they represent. Bourdeaux herself did not live in the 7th until she first ran for Congress in 2018.
McBath would face immediate attacks for her residency, but she would likely benefit from the district’s diversity: only a third of the new 7th district is white. She would also have an army of national supporters at her disposal, from Bloomberg, to gun safety groups and the Congressional Black Caucus.
There’s also that chance that McBath could run for a statewide office. In the event that Stacey Abrams does not run for governor next year, McBath would almost instantly be mentioned as a Plan B.
There’s also the chance that McBath forgoes any campaign in 2022. But given that she’s continuing to raise money, this does not seem likely.
Democrats, who are in the minority in the state legislature, were quick to denounce the new maps.
State Rep. Erick Allen, a Democrat from Cobb County and a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, said Wednesday night that the map was far worse than what he was expecting. “In a state that is clearly 50/50 how can you draw a congressional map that is in favor of nine Republican seats to five Democratic seats,” he asked. He also took issue with the timing of the map, noting that it was released two hours before it was scheduled to be heard in committee with little time for input from voters.
Most Democratic lawmakers also believe that the new map does not accurately reflect the state’s changing demographics: the state gained more than 1 million new residents over the last decade, most of whom are people of color. But Democrats do not think that minorities are fairly represented on the new map. “This map doesn't represent the population of the states or the voters,” State Sen. Jen Jordan tweeted. “And the GOP doesn't care.”
It is highly unlikely that these maps will be significantly changed, meaning that we could very well have our new congressional map for the next decade. State lawmakers will continue to hold hearings on the new maps before bringing them up for a vote later in the week. With lawmakers eager to return home for Thanksgiving, these maps could be passed and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp by the end of the week.