House Speaker Kirk Cox said Wednesday that despite Democrats’ claims, his caucus is in “the advanced stages” of solving court-ordered redistricting and that his party has been “rebuffed” in private meetings with Democratic leadership. Addressing Attorney General Mark Herring’s request to have a federal court – instead of lawmakers – draw a legislative map, attorneys on behalf of Cox, R-Colonial Heights, and House Republicans said conversations between the two parties have continued despite Democrats’ claims of an “impasse.” They argued that lawmakers are following an appropriate timeline and accused Democrats and the governor of seeking political gain by asking a federal court to redraw the maps.
Cox’s lawyers wrote that legislators are “working on preparing and negotiating a plan” to remedy the unconstitutional districts but did not provide details.
Herring’s request and the political disagreement stem from a federal court ruling in June that 11 House districts in the state – six of them in Hampton Roads – must be redrawn because they are unconstitutionally packed with black voters, leaving surrounding districts more likely to lean Republican.
Redrawing districts could mean some Virginians get a new state representative. Analyses have shown that “unpacking” black voters from these 11 districts could favor Democrats in the 2019 election.
The court has ordered lawmakers to redraw lines by Oct. 30. If they miss the deadline, the court would likely turn over the task to an independent outsider.