Teague: Redistricting South Carolina: Nearing the end

The Op-Ed Page

By Lynn Teague
Guest Columnist

The House has adopted its Congressional plan. On Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to consider two alternatives and will send one to the floor for a vote. After that, the two houses will go to conference committee to adopt a common plan to go back to the houses for final approval, and then to the Governor for signature. All of this will move fast, within a few weeks. So, what are the plans under consideration and what can we say about them?

The House plan and one of the Senate plans, Senate Amendment 1 (SA1), have a lot in common. They are somewhat similar to the existing Congressional map, although they are less competitive than the current map, which allows the southern coastal district, CD 1, to vary in partisan representation. These proposals would make CD 1 solidly Republican. leaving no South Carolina Congressional districts to be decided in November. Senate Amendment 2 (SA2) is very different, reimagining our Congressional map altogether. It is more competitive than either the current map or the two others under consideration, allowing both CD 1 and CD 5 to be decided in general elections while keeping both Charleston and Beaufort counties whole in CD 1. It is far superior to the other maps in every standard measure of redistricting proposal fairness.

Some of those testifying in the Senate Subcommittee hearing last week said that they support SA 1 because it keeps Beaufort in that district and “keeps the Lowcountry whole.” SA 1 does not keep the Lowcountry whole. The SA 1 map drives CD 6 south through Berkeley and Charleston counties to encompass parts of West Ashley and ALL of the Charleston peninsula and North Charleston. Mt. Pleasant and James Island are contiguous only by water. Both Charleston and North Charleston would be in a district with Columbia, a hundred miles away. What is happening here? There is an obvious clue. Like the House proposal and an earlier Senate proposal, SA 1 would reduce the Black Voting Age Population (BVAP) in CD 1 to about 17%, far lower than the black population of either Charleston County, which is 26% black, or Berkeley County which is 25% black. This is a racial gerrymander.

In contrast, SA 2 has a BVAP of 21%. The map proposal submitted by the League of Women Voters has a BVAP of 23%. Both these proposals keep Charleston County whole and in so doing produce a CD 1 that is competitive between the parties within a 1% range, the natural product of the racially and politically diverse community of interest made up of Charleston and its satellite cities and suburbs. SA 2 achieves this while keeping Beaufort County in CD 1, but whether Beaufort is in or out of CD 1, there is no rational argument that the Lowcountry is “whole” when the Charleston peninsula, in whole or in part, is carved out from CD 1.

One of those testifying last week was an Asian American resident of Hilton Head who asserted that minorities do not need special consideration in drawing Congressional maps, that they share the same interests as everyone else on the coast – such as the preservation of sea turtle eggs. However, throughout the redistricting process we have also heard from many black residents of South Carolina who do not agree and who ask that their voting influence not be diluted by gerrymandered maps like these. The voters they speak for are concerned about affordable housing, access to health care, and adequate wages, which are not concerns universally shared by residents of gated golf communities.

This week we will learn what map the Senate will pass, and then we will see whether South Carolina is once again embroiled in legal challenges to maps designed to dilute the influence of minority voters – especially black minority voters – and make all voters obsolete in November through non-competitive maps that decide our general elections in the map room, not the polling booth.

To see the plans for yourself, go to House and Senate redistricting websites or to:

Lynn Teague is a retired archaeologist who works hard every day in public service. She is the legislative lobbyist for the South Carolina League of Women Voters.

 

25 thoughts on “Teague: Redistricting South Carolina: Nearing the end

  1. DOUGLAS ROSS

    What does Jim Clyburn think about the map? Maybe he should agree to make his district more competitive in exchange for doing the same for Charleston. Unfortunately, my guess is that he has no interest in doing so especially when he will likely endorse his daughter to take his spot when he retires.

    We need term limits more thank we need to pay around with maps.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, just to provide some fact, one of the first times I spoke to Clyburn after he was first elected, in the early 90s, he complained about how extremely gerrymandered his district was, and wished the Republicans would take some of those “Democratic” (that is to say, black) voters back into their districts. I’ve never heard him say anything different from that in the years since….

      Reply
      1. Lynn teague

        Yes Bras, and that is my understanding of where he still stands on this. It is all connected of course. The CD2 arm that cracks Black districts in Richland is needed to give the illusion that pushing CD 6 to the tip of Charleston is needed to create a VRA district.

        Reply
      2. DOUGLAS ROSS

        Oh he said that 30 years ago… Now I believe it! What a paragon of virtue! A selfless statesman if I ever saw one.
        What exactly has he done to help black South Carolinians? I mean besides that beautiful $3.8 million dollar pedestrian bridge over 277 that bears his name? In all the years it’s been there, I have yet to see a single person use it.. and I’ve driven under it probably 1000 times in 19 years. Perfect example of government there… Millions on a bridge connecting two low income developments.

        Reply
          1. DOUGLAS ROSS

            He may not be scum but he certainly has made his public job more about him than his constituents just wait until he hands his “job” to one of his offspring for the next three decades. We know your view very well also: you don’t care how tax dollars are spent just that there’s a lot of great language used to promote spending them. Words over outcomes. Me? I’d rather see 3.8 million used to provide opportunities to the poor people on both sides of that bridge .

            Reply
            1. Barry

              I’ve seen people use the bridge. But not many. But admittedly, I don’t watch if people are crossing that bridge or really any other when I am driving by.

              As a reminder, Clyburn helped secure funds for the bridge but the SCDOT decided to name it after him. He didn’t name it himself.

              The bridge made some sense. Hwy 277 split two communities apart and Clyburn actually witnessed a child get struck by a car trying to run across Hwy 277. I’ve seen some near misses myself as I drove by.

              I know in the past there have been reports of crime and people feeling unsafe. I do wonder are there security cameras on the bridge? Is their LED lighting on the bridge at night to make it very bright?

              I think Clyburn does a lot more than Joe Wilson does. All I’ve ever known Joe to do is hand out business cards and shake hands. Oh- and yell out an insult during the State of the Union address.

              Reply
              1. Doug Ross

                3.8 million could have paid for 400,000 cab rides from one side of the road to the other. Or could have paid for a small van to drive back and forth. Or, you know, been used to do something useful like pay for scholarships, vocational training, child care… but, nah, we got some bricks.

                Reply
                1. Barry

                  paying for cab rides for the next 50 years seems a bit strange.

                  Those 2 communities didn’t ask to be separated by a highway that cut them into 2 areas.

                  The only issues I have with it is that the city needs to keep it clean, and the bushes cleared and they need to install security cameras on it to protect the folks that do use it.

                  Reply
      1. Ken

        Yes, thanks.
        This was meant as a general FYI not specific to any particular plan.
        The site includes several pages of information on SC redistricting plans. This is only one. Links to the others are on the same site.

        Reply
  2. bud

    Just for fun I came up with my own map. I wanted to keep the metro areas together as much as possible. I also wanted to keep counties together. But I did have to split Dorchester to make the population work. I was not concerned with protecting incumbents. I also wanted as many competitive districts as possible. Here’s the breakdown by county. Note: My district numbering may be different from other maps. Based on how the counties voted for POTUS in 2020 four of these districts would be competitive (2 lean Dem, 2 lean GOP). One would be a likely GOP district but not impossible for the Democrats. The other two would be solidly Republican.

    District 1 (Columbia Metro) – lean Dem
    Richland
    Lexington
    Calhoun

    District 2 (Greenville Exurbs) – Solid GOP
    Abbeville
    Edgefield
    Anderson
    Greenwood
    Laurens
    McCormick
    Spartanburg

    District 3 (Greenville Metro) – Solid GOP
    Greenville
    Pickens
    Oconee

    District 4 (Charlotte suburbs/exurbs) – Likely GOP
    Cherokee
    Chester
    Chesterfield
    Fairfield
    Newberry
    Lancaster
    Kershaw
    Union
    Newberry
    York
    Saluda
    Lee

    District 5 (Pee dee/Grandstand) – Lean GOP
    Darlington
    Dillon
    Florence
    Georgetown
    Horry
    Marion
    Williamsburg
    Clarendon

    District 6 (Metro Charleston)- Lean Dem
    Charleston
    Berkeley
    6/10 Dorchester

    District 7 (Lower Savannah River/Southern I-95) – Lean GOP
    Beaufort
    Colleton
    Hampton
    Aiken
    Allendale
    Sumter
    Orangeburg
    Jasper
    4/10 Dorchester
    Bamberg
    Barnwell

    Reply
      1. Barry

        I read yesterday where Ron DeSantis just submitted his own proposed maps after the Florida House and Senate had been working for months on their new maps.

        House and Senate leaders were blindsided by the governor jumping into the process. Apparently he had not alerted them. Privately, some were not happy but expect them to roll over.

        One Florida House rep has already stated that Ron’s proposed map was “excellent.” LOL

        It’s like a cult. Dear Leader chimes in and then anything he does is “excellent.” There is no middle ground.

        My supervisor once told our group that she expected us to sometimes disagree with her and push back and give our honest opinion, not rubber stamp everything she said. This great advice that is so helpful in the business world doesn’t work in politics though. You have to agree with the boss and kiss backside.

        Ron’s map cuts out 2 Democratic districts (now represented by 2 African Americans) and rolls them into Republican districts. – Of course they do.

        Reply
  3. Barry

    Noticed a few of the slightly less secure GOP Rep districts (based on vote totals from 2020) were adjusted, in at least one case to place a leading contender from 2020 into another district so he could not run against the same incumbent again.

    Interesting indeed.

    Reply
  4. Doug Ross

    The goal of these maps is to protect the two party stranglehold on the government. Each side wants more power — power to tax and spend, power to regulate, power to tell people how they should live their lives. In the end, neither side accomplishes anything except more waste, corruption, and spending other people’s money.

    Reply
  5. Doug Ross

    Tim Scott on the Senate floor today echoes my beliefs on the whole voter suppression hyperbole..
    From The State:

    When Scott was elected to Congress in 2010, he defeated the son of late GOP segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond in a crowded Republican primary. “I won that race not merely because of who I am, but because of who we have become, as a nation,” Scott said. “The evolution of the hearts of America and the hearts of Southerners could not be more clear on a day when the son of a single mother, mired in poverty, runs against the son of one of the most famous senators in the history of the country and comes out victorious.” Referring to himself and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Georgia Democrat and one of the chamber’s three Black senators, Scott said, “It’s hard to deny progress when two of the three come from the Southern states that people say are the places where African American votes are being suppressed.”

    Read more at: https://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/article257550953.html#storylink=cpy

    Reply
    1. Barry

      I don’t think anyone, anywhere would claim “no progress,” so as usual Scott is replying to a claim that no one is really making.

      Yeah, he’s a politician. Politicians beat up straw men all the time. I realize that.

      Tim Scott faced no voter suppression effort in 2010. He was backed by numerous national Republicans in a primary by a party desperately trying to recruit black candidates because 90% of African Americans aren’t interested in the Republican Party and the party’s own internal audit after Obama won in 2008 showed massive problems with attracting African Americans to the party.

      The man who led that effort after the 2008 election for Republicans, supports strengthening voting rights now, and disagrees with Tim Scott.

      I do not think it’s a secret that the states working so hard to pass new voting laws are states where white people are becoming a minority.

      Congressional gerrymandering by Texas Republicans cut out the heart of Houston’s Asian community

      Asian and Pacific Islander populations surged in Texas over the past decade, but their political power is weakened under new congressional maps. A northwest Houston neighborhood offers a case study in how that was done.

      https://www.texastribune.org/2021/11/22/texas-redistricting-congressional-asian/

      One bit from the article

      “One district line, winding between a local car wash and bar, severs most of the Korean neighborhoods, grocery stores, restaurants and a senior center from the community center itself, which now hangs on the edge of one congressional district while most of its members reside in the next district over.

      “It’s like (lawmakers) don’t even know we are here,” said Hyunja Norman, president of the Korean American Voters League, who works out of the center. “If they were thoughtful, they could’ve included the Korean Community Center in (our district). But it’s like they are ignorant of us, or they just don’t care.”

      Reply

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