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Updated: House Democrats call on McDonnell to support bipartisan redistricting

Anita Kumar

Leaders of the House Democratic caucus are calling on Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to include bipartisan redistricting in his new commission on government reform, which will search for ways to shave hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget and make government more user-friendly.

"We hope that you will keep your pledge to Virginians and put forward this cost-saving and good government proposal as part of your larger government restructuring agenda,'' Dels. Ward Armstrong and Ken Plum wrote in a letter to McDonnell today.

McDonnell publicly endorsed bipartisan redistricting during the gubernatorial campaign, breaking with Republicans in the House. But he didn't send anyone from his office to support any of the redistricting bills in the General Assembly this year.

At the time, his spokeswoman Stacey Johnson said the governor did not put his support behind any of the redistricting bills but that "the governor intends to honor his commitment made during the campaign to form a commission of people (political and non-political) that can advise him in his role in this process."

Updated, 4:50 p.m. "It's unfortunate that Delegates Armstrong and Plum were not able to attend (the Richmond Times Dispatch-sponsored public forum) this past Monday because if they had, they would already know that the governor is certainly supportive of involving the public in bipartisan redistricting,'' McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson said. "They would have also heard him say that he plans to form a bipartisan working group to address the issue."

Read the full letter below:

Commonwealth of Virginia
House of Delegates

May 14, 2010
The Honorable Robert F. McDonnell
Patrick Henry Building, Third Floor
1111 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219

Governor McDonnell:

We read with great interest a report from your town hall in Richmond earlier this week where you discussed your newly formed Government Reform Commission. Ideas from privatization of ABC stores to eliminating state funding for public broadcasting to allowing governors to serve consecutive terms were discussed.

In May of 2009 you said, "I do believe that we need to institute bipartisan redistricting to ensure greater citizen involvement, and the vigorous exercise of democracy that is the prerequisite for successful government. To achieve a bipartisan redistricting process I will establish a bipartisan commission comprised of Virginia citizens who have not held any elected office for at least 10 years." We write to call on you to honor your commitment and renew your strong stand for redistricting reform. Though we were disappointed that you and your administration chose not to support redistricting reform bills during the General Assembly session, we ask that you direct the Government Reform Commission to take up this all-important issue.

Redistricting reform has the potential to save the Commonwealth millions of dollars in court fees from legal challenges to the redrawn district maps. It also has the added benefit of restoring citizens' faith in their government. Time and again, the people have said that they should be allowed to choose their representatives, not vice versa.
We hope that you will keep your pledge to Virginians and put forward this cost-saving and good government proposal as part of your larger government restructuring agenda.


Ward L. Armstrong Kenneth R. Plum
House Minority Leader House Democratic Caucus Chair

By Anita Kumar  |  May 14, 2010; 3:07 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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It seems to be whose ox is gored. I remember 1991, when the Dems did a huge partisan hack job on the Virginia maps and gerrymandered Stan Parris right out of office. The Post was very complacent about that. Republican advantage, they don't like, though.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | May 14, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Redistricting should be done like was done to Parris. Economy is more important right now anyway.

Posted by: zcxnissan | May 14, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

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