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Plum calls on McDonnell to get involved in redistricting

Rosalind Helderman

For a bipartisan news conference about biparistan redistricting, Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax) had some not entirely bipartisan comments to make about Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell this morning.

Plum joined Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester) and a variety of other legislators, business leaders and representatives from the Virginia Interfaith Center to push bills that would establish a commission with representatives of both parties to redraw legislative and congressional districts after the 2010 census. Vogel, an elections lawyer, is carrying one bill in the senate. Virginia will be one of the first states in the country to go through the process, since it has off-year elections in 2011.

But Plum, who it was noted first proposed bipartisan redistricting in 1982, took the opportunity to call out McDonnell for not being more publicly supportive of the legislation now that he has taken office. In a widely publicized shift, McDonnell publicly endorsed bipartisan redistricting during the gubernatorial election, breaking with his party in the House of Delegates.

"The governor weighed in as a candidate to say he supports this. What we have to say to Governor McDonnell, who's not here today, is that he needs to show up real soon," Plum said. "Some of these bills will be taken up as soon as tomorrow morning. It really is very important that we have a signal from the governor, to say this bill or that bill is the one that meets what I was talking about when I was campaigning. And, frankly, I don't take any great pride of authorship. Whether it's my bill, or Senator Vogel's bill or one of the other bills authored by the folks here, it's time now to get beyond the campaign discussion of this, down to the particulars of here's a bill that warrants my support and as governor of Virginia, for the people of Virginia, here's the bill I support."

"I look forward to later today or early tomorrow at the latest, for the governor to weigh in, to allow this process to go forward," Plum added.

So has the governor now endorsed a bill? Not quite. His office did release a statement. It reads: "The Governor is hopeful that the House and Senate are able to work together to find common ground on this issue. He strongly believes that we need to institute a vehicle going forward that ensures more public input and provides more information to citizens on the redistricting process."

Under a bill drawn up by Vogel, a bipartisan commission composed of the top party leaders in each legislative chamber and the chairman of the two state parties, as well as a seventh member chosen by the other six, would draw up maps, aiming to create competitive districts that preserve the geographic core of existing districts, but without regard to where incumbents currently live. The maps would be drawn in a public process, with input from a citizen advisory body. If the General Assembly made changes to the maps drawn up the commission before passing them, there would be a public process for allowing the commission to state its views of those amendments.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  January 25, 2010; 3:10 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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