New senate district with black majority includes Western Tidewater

Published 11:09 am Monday, January 28, 2013

RICHMOND—The new redistricting plan approved by senators features the first new majority-minority district in the Virginia Senate since 1991.

District 25 stretches from Danville to Franklin and includes Southampton and Isle of Wight counties and a portion of Franklin.

Sen. John Watkins, R-Chesterfield, said the new district has an African-American population of 56.2 percent.

“Stretching across Southside Virginia, it will provide the opportunity for rural African-Americans in Virginia to elect their own representative to the Senate,” Watkins said. “And it has been drawn without an incumbent senator to truly provide an opportunity for this community.”

The provisions of the Voting Rights Act require the creation of majority-minority districts where a minority group is sufficiently large and compact, and is politically cohesive, and if there is a demonstrated history of racially polarized voting in the region.

In 1991, these standards led Virginia to increase the number of such districts in the Senate from two to five. Although the House of Delegates had increased the number of majority-minority districts in that body since the 1991 redistricting, the Senate had not.

The plan approved by the Senate changed that by approving the 25th District.

The legislation creating this new district is awaiting action in the House. If approved, the measure would go to Gov. Bob McDonnell. If the map becomes law, the new district would take effect in the next regular elections for the Senate of Virginia, which occur in November 2015.