South Carolina has only one competitive seat in the United States. Will new cards make the GOP safer in 2022? | News

COLUMBIA, SC – After collecting public testimony last month on two very different Congressional map proposals, a panel of South Carolina lawmakers will decide on Monday which, if any, they prefer.

The seven-member, bipartisan House Redistribution Committee will choose between its initial map that makes significant changes to four of the seven US House districts in South Carolina, and an alternative that comes very close to the proposal. of the Senate, or a modified version of either.

The House Judiciary Committee, which is due to meet two hours after the redistribution committee, will review the advanced map and – if the recently approved state legislative maps are any indication – may distribute it the same day.

The full House and Senate, which have yet to finalize their own map plan, are then expected to meet later this month to convert their proposals into a single map.

The 2022 legislative session begins Tuesday.

Lawmakers last month approved new district maps of the State House and Senate, but traced the lines of Congress through January due to the rollback of what was then Congress’ only proposal. Governor Henry McMaster signed the state cards in early December, but the constitutionality of the House card has since been challenged in court.

A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the South Carolina branch of the NAACP claims the map intentionally dilutes the power of black voters and calls for it to be redesigned.

Since last week, when the House redistribution committee gave its opinion to the public on its alternative Congressional proposal, the two plans were on a level playing field, said committee chairman Rep. Jay Jordan, R -Florence.

Compared to its original Congressional proposal, which makes the 1st District more competitive, the House’s alternative plan gives Democrats little chance of reclaiming South Carolina’s only seriously contested congressional district.

Lynn Teague, vice president for issues and action with the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, called the House’s alternative proposal a “racial and obvious partisan gerrymander” that should be rejected.

“In many ways, it is very similar to the map originally proposed to the Senate, although the Senate subcommittee has so far wisely chosen not to act on this map,” she said at the meeting. hearing last week.

Teague criticized the House’s alternative proposal to divide black communities in Richland and Sumter counties, but said its most blatant racial gerrymander was in the Lowcountry, where the predominantly black enclaves of Charleston County are separated from the largely white areas and inserted into the 6th District, a Majority – the minority district represented by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the only member of the South Carolina Democratic House.

“The division of Charleston County and even the City of Charleston, as you did in this proposal, serves primarily to secure a small minority population in (the 1st Congressional District) so that the white occupants of the Lower Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Seabrook, and Kiawah may dominate this. neighborhood, ”she said.

The 1st District, which has gone from Republican to Democrat to Republican in the past three cycles and is currently represented by U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Daniel Island, would favor the GOP by around 14 points under the Alternative Plan to the House, according to Dave’s redistribution.

The popular map drawing and analysis tool rates the Chamber’s latest proposal at a lower level than the chamber’s original plan in terms of competitiveness, proportionality, compactness, and division. The plan achieves roughly the same results on these measures as the current Congress map and Senate plan, which came under heavy criticism last month from Democrats and good government groups.

The 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th Congressional Districts appear to be identical in the alternate plans of the House and the Senate. The 1st, 2nd and 6th arrondissements are similar, but contain differences as to where or if the counties are divided.

The House alternate plan divides 10 counties from the 13 divided in the Senate proposal and the eight divided in their original proposal.

The counties of Beaufort, Calhoun and Orangeburg, which are divided between two districts on the Senate map, remain whole in the new House plan.

Beaufort, which the original plan for the house was criticized for placing in the 2nd arrondissement, is now in the 1st coastal arrondissement.

The counties of Calhoun and Orangeburg, which the Senate proposal divides between the 2nd and 6th districts, are entirely contained within the 6th district of Clyburn in both plans of the House.

The New House Plan and the Senate Plan both divide the Lowcountry counties of Colleton and Jasper between the 1st and 6th Districts, but do so at different times.

The House plan places virtually all of Jasper County and part of southern Colleton County in the 6th Borough, while the Senate plan divides Jasper more evenly between the 1st and 6th and places almost all of the county. de Colleton in the 6th arrondissement.

State Representative Beth Bernstein, D-Richland, who sits on the House Redistribution Committee, asked why an alternative plan had even been released, given its similarities to the much-maligned Senate proposal.

“I just don’t know why we are even considering this alternative card,” Bernstein said during last week’s hearing.

Jordan explained that the map was redesigned in response to complaints from coastal residents who opposed the relocation of Beaufort County from District 1 to District 2, further inland, represented by U.S. Representative Joe Wilson, R-Springdale.

Teague said she was aware of these concerns, but asked why the committee would prioritize their response over keeping Charleston County intact.

“If the question was whether it’s more important to keep North Charleston with Charleston or Beaufort with Charleston, the answer should be obvious,” she said. “North Charleston and Charleston share more economic and social interests than Beaufort and Charleston. “

The House’s alternative proposal isn’t the only one separating North Charleston and Charleston.

The cities are set out in separate districts on the current congressional map and in every plan released so far by either chamber. Rather than being paired with its coastal brethren, North Charleston consistently sits in the 6th Congressional District, which winds from Columbia to the coast.

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