As he prepared last week to deliver his farewell address, President Obama convened three Democratic leaders in the White House for a strategy session on the future of their party. The quiet huddle included Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the top Democrats in Congress, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia. One topic of urgent concern, according to people briefed on the meeting: how to break the Republican Party’s iron grip on the congressional map. Thwarted for much of his term by a confrontational Republican Congress, and criticized by his fellow Democrats for not devoting sufficient attention to their down-ballot candidates, Mr. Obama has decided to make the byzantine process of legislative redistricting a central political priority in his first years after the presidency.
Emerging as Mr. Obama’s chief collaborator and proxy is Eric H. Holder Jr., the former attorney general of the United States and a personal friend of the president. He has signed on to lead the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a newly formed political group aimed at untangling the creatively drawn districts that have helped cement the Republican Party in power in Washington and many state capitals.
In an interview this week at Covington & Burling, the Washington law firm where he is now in private practice, Mr. Holder, 65, said that he and Mr. Obama believe Republicans have undermined the political system by creating a patchwork of legislative maps — at both the state and federal levels — that are designed to stifle the will of voters.
Echoing a number of Mr. Obama’s top advisers, Mr. Holder described fighting Republican gerrymandering as a “primary concern” for the president once he leaves the White House.