Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Sid Salter: Cong. redistricting maps draw predictably partisan reviews, criticisms

 With super majorities in both houses of the Mississippi Legislature, the reveal of the state’s new congressional redistricting plan by Republican leaders drew predictably partisan reviews and criticisms from Democrats.

Not everyone in the Mississippi Republican Party was happy, either, but generally the GOP has few legitimate complaints about how their party fares in the proposal.

One of the principal critiques of the new congressional maps is the expansion of the Second Congressional District to include Adams, Amite, Franklin, and Walthall counties to the district currently represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Bolton, the state’s senior U.S. House member who is serving his 13th term.

Thompson chairs the House Homeland Security Committee and notably also chairs the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The proposed expansion of the Second District would have it run from Tunica County south along the Mississippi River to Wilkinson County. That fact is drawing descriptions like a “sprawling majority-Black district” from some observers. However, the addition of the four Southwest Mississippi counties to the proposed new Second District removes them from the present Third District.

The new Second District would stretch north and south from Tunica to Woodville – a driving distance of 284 miles. The present Third District now stretches northeast to southwest from Starkville to Woodville – a driving distance of 257 miles. Those same media voices weren’t moved in the past to note the existence of the present Third District as a “sprawling majority-White district” despite a difference of only 27 miles.

Make no mistake, Black Mississippians are right to be highly skeptical about congressional redistricting. Our state’s historical record is one in which as recently as 1966, legislators carved up the Mississippi Delta horizontally to keep Mississippi from having a single majority-Black congressional district.

It would take 20 years of rancorous lawsuits and federal intervention to produce the first Mississippi congressional district that would elect a Black representative in 1986. Rep. Thompson is only the second Black Mississippi congressman since Reconstruction.

But the fact is that there is less real concern about “sprawling districts” than there is over whether Thompson’s desire to have the entirety of Hinds County in the Second District and how that grates against incumbent Republican Third District Congressman Michael Guest’s desire to keep key northeast Jackson and southern Madison County GOP precincts in his district.

Democrats in the Mississippi Legislature also look at issues like the future of heavily Republican DeSoto County in congressional politics. Many there would like to see DeSoto kicked into the Second District with an eye toward making the First District more competitive for Democrats – an unlikely eventuality.

There are already ethics complaints filed by civil rights organization over alleged open meetings violations filed against the Joint Legislature Redistricting Committee. There are also rumbling of federal lawsuits challenging the committee’s plan. Federal lawsuits have been part of the redistricting landscape in Mississippi since the 1960s and that’s likely to continue in this cycle.

Most federal lawsuits over these matters center on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Section 5 has since enactment required that all or part of 16 mostly Southern states (and parts of New York, California, and a few other non-Southern states) with a history of discrimination against minority voters to get U.S. Justice Department “preclearance” of any changes in voting procedures, district line or voting practices.

Decades later, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 5 enforcement must be a national approach rather than a narrowly drawn safeguard in nine southern states or “the covered jurisdiction.” 

While race still plays far too large a role in congressional redistricting battles, one sure measure of progress is the fact that most of the present disputes are based on whether the proposed maps protect or target incumbent congressmen or the current party in power in the four districts. Those are questions of retail politics, not racial animus.

Congressional redistricting is easy compared to state legislative redistricting. The more tilted political battles come in the drawing of those maps. Even with super majorities in both houses, today’s GOP faces the same obstacles that yesterday’s Democrat majorities in the Legislature faced – the slicing of political pies even among friends is a messy business.


Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at



Anonymous said...

It's a lot like all the Covid lies.....

Anonymous said...

wait until we only have three us reps.. with how this state is shrinking it’s maybe 20 years out?

Anonymous said...

It's done by population. People looking to better themselves (white or black) move out of shitty districts. Bennie's district is a "shitty district" tell me I am wrong?

Anonymous said...

In a better world, AA’s voters would be better distributed in the other districts forcing us past the sordid divides of race and into a focus on good government (balanced budgets, minimal intervention, safety nets based on facts not fallacy, etc.).

But too many people on each side are ve$ted in the divide. It does seem that the better distribution will occur, though, when we next lose a representative - maybe as soon as 2030, if not 2040.

Anonymous said...

Other than get rich in DC, just what has Bennie done for his district. I've seen nothing tangible come out of him.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:56

Their are hopelessly no jobs and pitiful schools in Bennie's district but every penny of gov't money he can get his hands on to build more gov't housing to keep people there and perpetuate their poverty and dependence on the gubmint...he grabs. If anybody really cared they would be looking for ways to re-distribute these people (LIKE WE DO with "REFUGEES") to other areas of the country where there is at least some opportunity and hope to be employed. The Democrats are and have been discreetly pushing this country towards socialism for decades by creating this same situation anywhere they can.

Anonymous said...

The goal of an artist is to create the definitive work that cannot be surpassed.
Translation: Creasy is about to paint his masterpiece.

Gone get it said...

How Chowke gonna run for Bennies seat when he don't live in the district? You think he's gonna leave his Eastover digs for Itta Bena? Ha! Give them Jackson. That will make the Kush Plan complete. They'll have a defunct grain elevator and biodiesel plant that can't process the used cooking oil from Bennies fish fries. They will have the continental tire plant only because the Germans built it there. Afterall, they DID lose 2 back to back world wars.

Anonymous said...

Chokwe lives in an area that isn’t bennies it’s republican.

Anonymous said...

Micheal Guestnis the representative for NE Jackson!!! You should have seen the looks I received when I told bennies door knocking crew that came around to our NE Jackson neighborhood. They looked like a ghost when I said this isn’t his district. Ha
What’s up with that.

Anonymous said...

Attn 12:55 Chokwe can move to Reunion subdivision in Madison. I live here an Bennie is my esteemed congressman.

Anonymous said...

"[A]s recently as 1966, legislators carved up the Mississippi Delta horizontally . . . ."

Sid, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but 1966 ain't "recently" by a long shot! I've enjoyed many of your columns over the years, but your perspective that 55 years qualifies as "recently" means the time has come to step away from the typewriter.

Anonymous said...

12:11 PM Republican farm families in the Delta are some of the biggest beneficiaries of socialism in the entire world. Some get as much as 10,000 poor families.

Anonymous said...

A member of the US House must live in the STATE he or she represents, but not necessarily in the DISTRICT. In 2017, at least 20 US Congressmen lived outside their districts.

Anonymous said...

@4:04 PM... Maybe you think you voted for Bennie or you are confusing that with some other state or local district, but all of Southern Madison County is in Michael Guest's district.

Anonymous said...

We are going to create a district to ensure a white is elected. Racist.

We are going to create a district to ensure a black is elected. Not racist.


Anonymous said...

I called bennies office to ask them to remove signage up and down from JA to Eastover and they thought it was his district. I said no it’s Michael Guest district. One girl on the phone asked who he was. Eastover gives piles of money to republican establishment. Remember Romney and Rubio luncheon art Eastover house who’s name I won’t mention. The Eastover crowd thinks they run the world. Rubio stayed 5 days at the beach house of a Eastover family in Martha’s Vineyard later sold for 26 million so maybe money dues buy everything

Sidney Be Gamin' Us... said...

Somebody put a post-it note on Sid's desk re the Maryland lawsuit. Apparently Sid and his element believe Bennie's 'impossible to defeat' district wasn't quite enough and he needed three or four more counties.

Jerry Mitchell continues to ghost-write Salter's columns and fools continue to purchase them. Meanwhile....PERS.

Anonymous said...

I’m curious as to why Derrick Simmons has a interest in gaming Eastover and Fondren a white neighborhood in Jackson? He’s in the delta doesn’t he know Eastover hosted Rubio bush Romney and Woodland Hills also hosted Romney years ago at house fundraiser events. He’s a clueless twit Derrick. There’s a reason Bennie has lost population in his district. No one wants to live there for lack of opportunity so now you want to take republican area that can do huge fundraising and clam it as yours bc your of a certain color

Anonymous said...

Derrick Simmons is the picture for a fool he and Carlos the clown are nearly on same level. I’ve heard him speak and he’s a joke. Almost like he didn’t go to law school at all

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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