Republicans clear path for final vote on new Georgia congressional map

The House Redistricting Committee voted Saturday to advance a new map for Georgia's congressional delegation that would give Republicans a 9-5 advantage over Democrats. Committee Chairwoman Bonnie Richis pictured speaking about the map during a Thursday hearing. MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM
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The House Redistricting Committee voted Saturday to advance a new map for Georgia's congressional delegation that would give Republicans a 9-5 advantage over Democrats. Committee Chairwoman Bonnie Richis pictured speaking about the map during a Thursday hearing. MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

Credit: Mark Niesse

Credit: Mark Niesse

Map would help Republicans pick up a seat in Congress

A redistricting proposal designed to gain Republicans a congressional seat from Georgia passed its last committee Saturday, setting up a final vote Monday.

The map redistricts Georgia so that it would have nine Republican and five Democratic districts, positioning Republicans to increase their current 8-6 majority of Georgia’s congressional delegation after Democrats won two Atlanta-area seats in recent elections.

Republicans could pick up a seat by shifting the borders of a north Atlanta district currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath. The new district lines would move into conservative areas to the north in Dawson and Forsyth counties, easing the election of a Republican candidate in next year’s elections.

The House Redistricting Committee voted 10-4 along party lines to advance the map to a full vote on the House floor on Monday.

Republican leaders in the Georgia General Assembly have worked quickly to pass the new congressional map, which was first made public on Wednesday and is on track to head to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk five days later.

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Proposed U.S. House district map for Georgia.

Credit: Special

Proposed U.S. House district map for Georgia.
Caption
Proposed U.S. House district map for Georgia.

Credit: Special

Credit: Special

All of the members of the public who spoke at the committee meeting Saturday opposed the map, with many saying it would result in Republicans having disproportionate representation over a politically divided state where Democrat President Joe Biden narrowly won last year’s election.

“The proposed map does not represent Georgia’s diverse and growing population and is targeted to discriminate against minority voters,” said Mehar Nemani, a high school senior from Fulton County. “It actively hurts one party, but more than that, it specifically hurts the voting of people of color.”

McBath, who is Black, was elected in 2018 in a district known for its conservative representatives, including Newt Gingrich before he led the Republicans to take control of the U.S. House in 1994.

McBath won reelection last year with 55% of the vote, but the new map would favor Republicans by 15 percentage points in next year’s elections, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Caption
The 6th and 7th Congressional Districts could see significant changes according to a Republican proposal.

Credit: Isaac Sabetai

The 6th and 7th Congressional Districts could see significant changes according to a Republican proposal.
Caption
The 6th and 7th Congressional Districts could see significant changes according to a Republican proposal.

Credit: Isaac Sabetai

Credit: Isaac Sabetai

State Rep. Ed Setzler disagreed with Nemani, saying the congressional map respects Georgia’s racial diversity.

“I represent all people of my area regardless of their national origin or what their political preferences might be,” said Setzler, a Republican from Acworth. “The suggestion that this map is a gerrymandered attack on the things that she described is just factually as a premise wrong.”

Five of Georgia’s six congressional districts held by Democrats are majority nonwhite, and the new congressional maps also include five districts where most residents are people of color. The district currently held by McBath would become 64% white, while the 7th Congressional District held by Democrat U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux would become a safe Democratic seat with 70% people of color.

Public speakers from Cobb County objected to being mapped into a heavily conservative district held by Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying she wouldn’t represent their views.

Under the map, the northwest Georgia district held by Greene would grow to cover parts of Austell and Powder Springs that tend to vote for Democrats. The district would remain distinctly Republican, with the inclusion of liberals in Cobb overshadowed by the strongly conservative character of the overall district.

Lawsuits alleging the maps violate voting rights are likely to quickly follow after Kemp signs the maps into law.

“If this is enacted, Georgia will be sued,” Marc Elias, the Democratic Party’s top election lawyer, wrote on Twitter on Saturday.


Georgia congressional redistricting timeline

Wednesday: Map made public

Thursday: Approved by Senate Redistricting Committee

Friday: Passed state Senate 32-21

Saturday: Approved by House Redistricting Committee

Monday: Final vote planned in the state House

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