March 22, 2011 03:49
As the three-week special redistricting session heats up in Baton Rouge, lawmakers are quickly showing the state that the protection of their own political futures is a top priority - second only to mapping the required minority districts to appease the U.S. Department of Justice - and the question of which congressman from Louisiana loses his or her seat has gone all the way to YouTube. Do you know where the term gerrymander comes from? Story has it in 1812, then Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry redrew the state's political lines to favor his own party. When an artist observed the outcome of the governor's etching, he noted that the shape resembled a salamander. A newspaper editor at the time coined the phrase gerrymander, which has been used ever since to describe the politics as usual process of redistricting that comes every 10 years.

As the three-week special redistricting session heats up in Baton Rouge, lawmakers are quickly showing the state that the protection of their own political futures is a top priority - second only to mapping the required minority districts to appease the U.S. Department of Justice - and the question of which congressman from Louisiana loses his or her seat has gone all the way to YouTube.

The Times-Picayune reports that the battle between potential power shifts in Jefferson and Orleans parishes due to drastic population shifts in New Orleans has some legislators publicly stating they don't want to run against each other next election, while The Advocate reports that the process of redrawing Baton Rouge districts has black lawmakers in an uproar.

Black caucus members are attacking House Speaker Jim Tucker's plan because the minority districts being drawn in East Baton Rouge Parish and elsewhere have too high a percentage of black voters, which they say will create less diversity in other districts by having too few black voters in non minority districts, The Advocate reports:
The more black voters in majority white districts, the more influence they can potentially exert in elections and on the actions of those elected and vice versa as far as white voters in majority black districts, [state Rep. Michael Jackson] said.
Tucker, a Terrytown Republican, meanwhile, is busy trying to calm the fears of his colleagues, like Rep. John LaBruzzo of Metairie and Rep. Nick Lorusso of Lake Vista, who say they simply do not want to face each other in the upcoming election cycle:
Tucker said he will not redraw the map in a way that reduces the 29 majority non-white districts he has proposed. In fact, the Legislative Black Caucus is seeking a 30th majority non-white district in Shreveport.

The speaker added later Monday that, even as he entertains changes, time is running out in the three-week session that must end by April 13. The House redistricting committee is expected to take up the map again Wednesday. He said he wants the bill on the House floor by Friday. There, he told members, "I don't expect to have any substantive amendments."

Then there's the issue of re-carving the state's Congressional districts with six reps instead of seven. That heated topic has prompted an anonymous group to post a YouTube video that portrays north Louisiana politicians as mafiosos who meet secretly over drinks and cigars to figure out how to protect their incumbent seats.

Read the T-P's coverage here

Check out The Advocate's redistricting article here.

Also from Heather Miller