House Speaker Beth Harwell indicates she wants the GOP-dominated General Assembly to avoid “political gerrymandering” in the redrawing of the Tennessee’s legislative and congressional districts.
However, the final shape the lines take will ultimately have to suit her party’s preferences, says the Nashville Republican.
A Republican-led House ad hoc committee met briefly on Thursday to lay out the ground rules on the redistricting process. Lawmakers have until April 5, 2012 to approve new district lines, however they expect to work through the summer and fall to come to a consensus by the January kick off of the 2012 legislative session.
“I want to avoid any type of political gerrymandering, although I will say that the state has clearly spoken last election cycle and the Republican Party is the majority party in this state,” Harwell told TNReport this week.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Tennessee has a population 6,346,105 people. Lawmakers will be charged with evenly breaking up the state into nine Congressional districts, 33 state Senate districts and 99 districts in the state House of Representatives.
That boils down to an ideal population of 705,123 people in each Congressional district, 192,306 in each Senate district and 64,102 in each House district, although the Legislature will have a 10 percent leeway.
House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh and Caucus Chairman Mike Turner say they are, so far, optimistic the process will be fair to their minority party.