Fayette to flip to GOP control
The first draft of a redistricting map creates a bit of a wildcard in Fayette County politics at the state legislature.
That’s because a brand-new district, the 63rd, was drawn without an incumbent in office who lives in that area. The district is split between Fayette County and parts of south Fulton and south Clayton counties.
In Fayette County, the 63rd district encompasses the unincorporated Fayette area north and east of Fayetteville, along with nearly all of Fayetteville. The remainder of the district snakes northward in a sliver of unincorporated south Fulton County that runs up to College Park, and also to the southwest into the southern tip of Clayton County that rests between the Fayette and Henry county lines.
The new 63rd is one of the 49 “majority minority” districts that were created for the House statewide to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, said Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City.
Ramsey thinks there’s a possibility that the 63rd district could be won by a Fayette resident.
That’s assuming Fayette remains untouched throughout the rest of the redistricting process, which occurs every 10 years thanks to updated population figures from the U.S. Census.
The legislature convened Monday to begin handing the redistricting matter. The final maps, once adopted, must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice before they can be in play.
The wide-open 63rd district is not the only major political shift posited by the new map. Fayette would no longer be associated with the districts currently represented by Democrats Roberta Abdul-Salaam and Darryl Jordan, both of Riverdale, but it would gain association with the 71st district held by Republican Rep. Billy Horne of Newnan.
Horne would pick up a small portion of Peachtree City in the Wilksmoor Village area north of Ga. Highway 54 and west of Ga. Highway 74. The remainder of the district encompasses nearly the entire eastern portion of Coweta County including Sharpsburg and part of Newnan.
In another change, Ramsey’s 72nd district will lose the south side of Fayetteville and a tiny portion of the unincorporated county southeast of Fayetteville. In exchange, the 72nd will extend into the southern tip of Fayette County and Brooks, along with a chunk of southeast Coweta county including all of Senoia and Haralson.
Likewise, Fayette will keep the 73rd district currently held by Rep. John Yates, which will lose the southern tip of Fayette County and Brooks but will maintain nearly the entire unincorporated area southeast of Fayetteville including Woolsey.
Democrat Rep. Virgil Fludd of Tyrone, currently of the 66th district, would see little change on the Fayette County side of his district, losing his only precinct in Peachtree City. The remainder of his district lies in Fulton County.
For partisans keeping score at home, all the changes would add up to a big shift on the House of Representatives side of the local legislative delegation.
Currently Fayette is represented by three Democrats and two Republicans in the House. Assuming incumbents are re-elected, that would shift to three Republicans, one Democrat and one as-yet-unknown until the 2012 election in the 63rd district.
Not much would change on the Senate side of things for Fayette County under the new map. Tyrone’s Republican Sen. Ronnie Chance’s 16th district would lose the Sandy Creek precinct in northwestern Fayette to Democrat Sen. Valencia Seay of Riverdale and her 34th district. In exchange the 16th adds up the Spring Hill precinct in south Fayetteville.
Ramsey, who has been involved on the committee side of the redistricting process, noted that across the state, the redrawn lines led to 20 incumbent legislators being drawn into the same district: six pair of Democrats and four pair of Republicans. Most of the changes were in inner city Atlanta and DeKalb County along with south Georgia because they correspond with areas that lost a significant amount of population on the latest census, Ramsey said.
Ramsey noted there has been much opportunity for public input on the new maps, especially in a slate of public hearings held across the state.
“We believe the maps are constitutional and fair, and this has been the most transparent process,” Ramsey said, noting that Democrats, the minority party in the legislature, have also had input in before the first map drafts were released.
Ramsey also noted that every member of the House of Representatives has been asked to provide further feedback to the reapportionment office.
“The chairman has gone out of his way to reach out to anybody who might have an interest in the process so they can provide feedback,” Ramsey said.