New legislative map nudges out Quayle

Published 10:01 am Saturday, April 30, 2011

FRANKLIN—The General Assembly’s apparent resolution to its battle over new legislative district lines could force a Western Tidewater senator out of his seat.

The new voting boundaries, which are expected to be signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell, would put Sen. Fred Quayle, R-Suffolk, in the same district as Sen. Harry Blevins, R-Chesapeake.

Quayle said he is happy to see the redistricting issue resolved but is unhappy with the bill that, in essence, eliminates his district.

“I am not going to challenge Senator Blevins in a primary,” Quayle said Friday. “He’s been too good a friend for too long.”

Under the new plan, District 14 would include precincts 101 and 201 in Franklin, as well as Carrsville, Walters and Zuni in Isle of Wight County. The district would also include the Southampton County precincts of Berlin, Hunterdale, Ivor and Sedley.

It was growth in Northern Virginia that gave the Senate no choice but to eliminate a seat in the southern portion of the state, said Blevins.

“Senator Quayle is a great guy, but it was not personal,” Blevins said. “It’s numbers. It’s all numbers.”

Quayle and Blevins both said an earlier redistricting plan vetoed by McDonnell would have eliminated a district in Virginia Beach instead of Quayle’s district.

Blevins said he has not decided whether he will run again and wants to talk it over with his family before he makes a final decision. Quayle said he would run if Blevins decides not to run.

This newest attempt at redrawing district lines by the General Assembly passed this week with a 63-7 vote in the House and a 32-5 vote in the Senate.

Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, said the votes show that both sides agreed with the new plan.

“Most folks think it was the best we could do,” Lucas said. “We made the numbers work the best we could.”

The biggest change in Lucas’ district — Senate District 18 — from what was proposed in mid-April is that part of Brunswick County was added back.

“I’m satisfied with the outcome,” Lucas said. “I am going to do the best I can to represent everyone in my district.”

Under the new plan, the 18th District includes the Southampton County precincts of Boykins, Blackwater River, Branchville, Capron, Courtland, Drewryville, Forks-Of-The-River, Meherrin, Newsoms and Sebrell, as well as Windsor in Isle of Wight County. The district also includes Franklin precincts 301, 401, 501 and 601.

Delegate Bill Barlow, D-Smithfield, said he has mixed emotions about the new district lines in the House, as his district – House District 64 – will no longer stretch north of the James River.

“Obviously, I could’ve gotten a better district, but I could have gotten a much worse district,” Barlow said. “It’s not a pretty process, but I look forward to working with the people in the newly configured district.”

The new 64th House district includes three precincts in Franklin — 101, 201 and 601 — as well as Bartlett, Carrolton, Courthouse, Orbit, Pons, Raynor, Rushmere, Smithfield, Walters, Windsor and Zuni precincts in Isle of Wight County. The district also includes the Southampton County precincts of Berlin, Hunterdale and Ivor.

Barlow said the redistricting process is not over. He said there’s a 50-50 chance that the issue could still end up in court because of a lawsuit.

Delegate Roslyn Tyler’s district — House District 75 — includes precincts in the City of Franklin, Isle of Wight and Southampton counties. The district is composed of precincts 301, 401 and 501 in Franklin as well as Camps Mill and Carrsville precincts in Isle of Wight County. The district also includes Forks-Of-The-River in Southampton County.

As for Quayle, the 20-year veteran senator jokingly said he was considering a run for a U.S. Senate seat.

“I’ve been in it 20 years and the district I represent did not exist before I was here,” Quayle said. “Maybe 20 years is long enough.”