A special session to redraw Virginia’s congressional districts could give Gov. Terry McAuliffe the power to hold out for a new map that turns at least one additional seat to the Democrats. McAuliffe plans to call an Aug. 17 special session to redraw Virginia’s congressional districts by Sept. 1 to comply with an order by federal judges who say legislators packed too many blacks into the 3rd District. “The governor has a lot of leverage here,” said Robert D. Holsworth, a former professor and dean at Virginia Commonwealth University who led then-Gov. Bob McDonnell’s redistricting advisory panel in 2011. “The real issue is how much sacrifice he will exact from the Republicans.”
Virginia lawmakers ordinarily redraw congressional boundaries every 10 years, after the census, to reflect population shifts. In Virginia, it always has been a partisan process. The party in power gets the spoils — majority Democrats for decades, and more recently Republicans.
In 2011, McDonnell, a Republican, named an Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting. The report the panel issued included three “model maps” that would have created much more compact districts than the plan Republican legislators devised.
McDonnell did not push for the panel’s recommendations, which the legislature ignored.