Senate map to be unveiled as lawmakers prep for redistricting session

Your daily jolt of news and analysis from the AJC politics team
Georgia’s court-ordered political map overhaul begins this week, and we’ll soon see the first glimpses of the proposed new districts ahead of the special legislative session that starts Wednesday.  Pictured: State Sen. Bill Cowsert, a Republican from Athens, points to new Senate districts during a committee meeting. (Mark Niesse/mark.niesse@ajc.com)

Credit: Mark Niesse/AJC

Credit: Mark Niesse/AJC

Georgia’s court-ordered political map overhaul begins this week, and we’ll soon see the first glimpses of the proposed new districts ahead of the special legislative session that starts Wednesday. Pictured: State Sen. Bill Cowsert, a Republican from Athens, points to new Senate districts during a committee meeting. (Mark Niesse/mark.niesse@ajc.com)

The court-ordered overhaul of Georgia’s political map begins this week, and we’ll soon see the first glimpses of the proposed new districts ahead of the special legislative session that starts Wednesday.

The Georgia Senate goes first, as Republican leaders put the finishing touches on a map that is expected to be released later today.

Mapmakers worked to comply with U.S. District Judge Steve Jones’ order to create two new majority-Black Senate districts in south Atlanta. Drawing new lines that satisfy the judge, who ruled that the current maps illegally dilute Black voting power, is not a given. Recall that Alabama lawmakers resisted a court-ordered redistricting earlier this year.

We’re told the new Senate districts minimize GOP damage but aren’t set to pair incumbents against each other, protecting Democrats and Republicans who already hold seats.

That means Republican state Sen. Brian Strickland, whose McDonough-based district could have been made substantially more competitive, is likely to be insulated, barring any last-minute changes.

A vaster overhaul is expected in the Georgia House, where Jones called for five new majority-Black districts in metro Atlanta and Macon.

Avoiding brutal incumbent-on-incumbent pairings might be impossible. One wizened legislator likened it to “Godzilla stomping through territory.” That chamber’s proposed maps may not be released until later this week.

Meanwhile, most of the national attention will be on the new U.S. House lines, which could give Democrats a chance to flip a Republican-held congressional seat in metro Atlanta.

Republicans currently hold a 9-5 majority in Georgia’s U.S. House delegation, a 33-23 lead in the state Senate and a 102-78 advantage in the state House.

Expect Democrats to release their own versions of maps, too, though they can’t muster the votes to pass them.

State Rep. Dewey McClain, D-Lilburn, framed the upcoming session this way: “We will waste taxpayer money for something that should have and could have been done right the first time.”

The deadline for lawmakers to finalize the new maps is Dec. 8.

***

PLOT TWIST. The obvious challenge for state lawmakers whose district lines are redrawn this month is the Georgia constitution requires they live within the district where they run for one year prior to Election Day.

But the real twist is in the calendar. With Election Day 2024 falling on Nov. 5, that means the residency deadline for the upcoming election has already passed. So there won’t be time for members to move into revised districts should they be drawn out this week. They’ll either run where they live or not at all.

***

Funeral and memorial services are being held this week in Georgia for former first lady Rosalynn Carter. (Rick McKay/Cox Washington Bureau)

Credit: Rick McKay/Cox Washington Bureau

icon to expand image

Credit: Rick McKay/Cox Washington Bureau

REMEMBERING ROSALYNN: With funeral services for Rosalynn Carter scheduled for this week, honors for the former first lady came in from around the country.

President Joe Biden, a longtime friend of the Carter family, ordered flags at the White House and federal buildings to fly at half-staff Saturday though this Wednesday, the day of Carter’s funeral in Plains. Gov. Brian Kemp has also ordered that state flags fly at half-staff Monday through Wednesday in honor of the former first lady.

The Plains Christmas parade and tree lighting attracted hundreds to the little town Saturday night, where Chip Carter thanked the crowd for coming out to celebrate an event his mother loved so much. “When you start smiling and laughing, think about my mom and I’ll be happy,” he said. “Let there be light.”

The schedule for the week is as follows:

Today: A brief wreath-laying ceremony will be held at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, where Carter attended college. Later, the former first lady will lie in repose at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta. The public is invited to pay respects from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The public is also welcome to line the motorcade route as the Carter family accompanies her from downtown Plains to Americus and on to Atlanta starting at 10 a.m.

Tuesday: A tribute service for invited guests will take place at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church at Emory University in Atlanta. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will both attend with their spouses. The event is closed to the public but will be televised.

Wednesday: A family funeral service will take place at the Carters’ longtime church, Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, followed by a private interment on the Carter family property. The public can view the motorcade in designated areas between the church and downtown Plains.

***

LISTEN UP. Rosalynn Carter’s memorial services are the topic as the “Politically Georgia” radio show returns from a brief Thanksgiving holiday sabbatical. The AJC team is joined for today’s episode, which airs at 10 a.m. on WABE 90.1 FM and is livestreamed on AJC.com as well as WABE.org, by journalists who covered the Carter administration.

If you miss the live airing of the show, a podcast version will publish around 1 p.m. and is available at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

***

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter is the latest member of Georgia’s congressional delegation to endorse former President Donald Trump’s comeback bid. (Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC

CATCH UP: Some stories from over the holiday break you might have missed:

  • U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter of Pooler is the latest member of Georgia’s congressional delegation — and one of the first mainstream Republicans in the state — to endorse former President Donald Trump’s comeback presidential bid.
  • The Georgia Supreme Court effectively sidelined a Republican-backed law to punish “rogue” prosecutors by refusing to approve rules and regulations for a newly created district attorney oversight commission.
  • Emails obtained by the AJC reveal a Georgia official warned the state GOP that voters could be disenfranchised by the party’s decision to include two candidates who have suspended their campaigns on the March 12 primary ballot.

***

RIVALRY BREWING? Former President Donald Trump has yet to debate Nikki Haley or any of his other Republican rivals for the presidential nomination, but he took time Saturday to show his political strength in Haley’s backyard. Trump attended the Clemson-South Carolina football game in Haley’s home state, where the South’s first GOP primary will be held on Feb. 24.

Trump was the guest of South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who succeeded Haley as the state’s governor in 2017 when she resigned to join the Trump administration as United Nations ambassador. Trump and McMaster watched the game from a private suite, along with South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, a one-time Trump critic turned defender and supporter.

Trump, who holds a significant lead in polling of South Carolina voters, received a mix of cheers and boos from fans at the game. Trump got a much more critical reception en route to the stadium, as he passed a series of electronic billboards emblazoned with the message: “You lost. You’re guilty. Welcome to Columbia, Donald.”

Clemson won the game, 16-7. Haley, a Clemson alum and member of the school’s board of trustees, did not attend.

***

Georgia U.S. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was among the “wild cards” in a speculative list of 2024 election running mates for former President Donald Trump published Saturday in The New York Times. (Nathan Posner for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for The AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Nathan Posner for The AJC

RUNNING MATE SHORTLIST. Georgia U.S. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was among the “wild cards” in a speculative list of 2024 election running mates for former President Donald Trump published Saturday in The New York Times.

The analysis piece looked at 19 vice president contenders and included several recent or current Trump primary election rivals, including U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.

As for those the Times deemed “wild cards,” Greene joined Tucker Carlson, the pro-Trump media personality fired by Fox News earlier this year, and former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott. The Times wrote: “They’re long shots, yes. But Donald Trump is far from a predictable politician.”

Trump is the frontrunner to capture the GOP presidential nomination and will select a running mate ahead of the Republican National Convention next July.

***

TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden delivers remarks from the White House on strengthening America’s supply chain as he launches the new White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience.
  • The U.S. Senate returns for votes this evening; the House is back from Thanksgiving recess on Tuesday.

***

Endeavour is a cream colored golden retriever and (off-duty) service dog. (Courtesy photo)

Credit: Courtesy photo

icon to expand image

Credit: Courtesy photo

DOG OF THE DAY. Meet Endeavour Eschenbacher, a cream-colored golden retriever from Temple who is as unique as his name.

Endeavour is the service dog (pictured here off-duty) who calls Vietnam veteran and AJC subscriber Helen Eschenbacher his person. Helen trained both Endeavour and his predecessor, Sammy, whose claim to fame was attending the 2012 presidential inauguration with Helen.

To Helen and Endeavour, thank you for your service. And Endeavour, you’re our dog of the day!

Send us your dogs of any political persuasion and location, and cats on a cat-by-cat basis, to patricia.murphy@ajc.com, or DM us at @MurphyAJC.

***

AS ALWAYS, “Politically Georgia” readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to greg.bluestein@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com, patricia.murphy@ajc.com, and adam.vanbrimmer@ajc.com.