The Georgia state Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a Cobb County commission map that could help the reelection chances of a vulnerable Republican, while drawing a neighboring Democrat out of her district.
The bill passed 33-18 over the objections of Democrats, who have spent much of the last month protesting against what they view as Republican meddling in local affairs. By a similar margin, the Senate also passed a map for the Cobb County Board of Education that would pit two incumbent Democrats against each other if they chose to run for re-election.
The bills now head to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who is expected to sign them into law.
Election maps have to be redrawn following the U.S. Census every 10 years, to balance district populations and protect the principle of equal representation. But traditionally, the Republican-led state Legislature has deferred to the local legislative delegation to draw local political maps. This year, Republicans overrode the wishes of local leaders in Cobb, Gwinnett and other Democratic-led counties, and pushed through maps that would benefit conservative candidates.
State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta) on Thursday pushed back against accusations of partisan gerrymandering, noting that the map would maintain a 3-2 Democratic edge on the commission.
It shifts the boundaries significantly, putting all of East Cobb into District 3, currently held by Republican JoAnn Birrell, while reshaping District 2 into an urban corridor that follows I-75 from the Fulton County line to just north of Marietta.
“This map reflects the changing composition of our county,” Kirkpatrick said.
Democrats countered that the map was a partisan reaction to Republicans losing control of the Cobb Board of Commissioners in the 2020 election.
“What it reflects is an effort by the majority (Republican) Party to try and take back power after they’ve lost elections previously,” said state Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta). “...Why don’t y’all just try to win elections instead of changing the lines and changing the rules?”
The map’s revamped District 2 could force Democratic Commissioner Jerica Richardson, who lives in East Cobb, out of office two years early. County law requires commissioners to live in the district they represent.
Kirkpatrick on Thursday defended Cobb County Republicans’ decision to move forward with the map over the objections of the Democratic majority on the county commission and on the local delegation.
“The local process works when an agreement can be reached,” she said. “That was not the case on this map.”
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