Redistricting rift continues

Published 9:52 am Friday, April 22, 2011

WAKEFIELD—Gov. Bob McDonnell said he wants to play a helpful and constructive role in finding a resolution to legislative redistricting after he vetoed a bill last week that would have set the lines for the next election.

McDonnell told reporters at Wednesday’s 63rd annual Wakefield Ruritan Club Shad Planking that there are a lot of alternatives to the district lines drawn by the Senate. He also took a shot at the Senate during his keynote speech.

“As you know I live in Richmond now,” the Republican governor said. “I was surprised to find out after looking at the (redistricting) maps that my new senator was going to be Charlie Sheen.”

He told reporters there are “at least 50 ways to draw the lines legally” and he had given the legislature a roadmap to follow in his veto message.

“We want to be able to have a resolution to all this,” McDonnell said.

There is no set deadline for the legislature to return a bill to the governor, but action must be taken in early May to stay in step with an election timeline, McDonnell press secretary Jeff Caldwell said last week.

Delegate Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, said Wednesdasy she doesn’t see a resolution coming at the state level and expects the issue to be taken care of in Washington. Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, echoed this statement last week, saying she expected a lawsuit.

Tyler said the proposed House lines extend her district to Dinwiddie County to allow it to pick up an additional 10,000 people because southern Virginia is losing population to the northern part of the state.

“I knew my district was going to grow, but I didn’t know it was going to grow that much,” Tyler said.

Delegate Bill Barlow, D-Smithfield, would pick up precincts in Southampton and Sussex counties if the new lines proposed in the House survive. He would also lose precincts in Williamsburg and James County.

“It’s all up in the air right now,” Barlow said. “I plan to run in whatever district I’m in.”