Local congressman's district might see changes

GOP lawmakers look at ways to alter John Barrow's district
Rep. John Barrow: His current 12th District represents much of the Augusta area.

 

U.S. Rep. John Barrow isn’t calling a moving company — at least not yet.

But lawmakers are toying with the idea of remapping his home into a Republican-leaning district represented by GOP Rep. Jack Kingston.

A draft redistricting map puts all of Chatham County — including Savannah, where Democrat Barrow lives — in Kingston’s 1st District.

It’s one of several congressional district maps being circulated as legislators prepare for an Aug. 15 special session.

They’ll convene for the politically sensitive task of redrawing their own districts and those of Georgia’s U.S. House members.

The process is required after each once-a-decade census to roughly equalize district populations.

There is widespread speculation that the GOP-dominated General Assembly will try to undermine Barrow’s political base.

Rep. Roger Lane, House Congressional and House Reapportionment Committee chairman, said one proposed map puts all of Chatham in the 1st.

“We have some working maps that get passed around as a starting point for discussion,” the Darien Republican said. “It’s just a draft. We haven’t done much yet on the congressional maps.”

Congressmen aren’t required to live in the districts they represent. But those who don’t often are tagged by foes as outsiders or “carpetbaggers.”

Barrow moved to Chatham County in 2006 after the legislature lopped his hometown of Athens out of
his 12th District. He was re-elected that year, but by only 864 votes — out of more than 142,000 cast.

No information was available Friday as to whether the redrawn 12th would be much less Democratic than it is now.

Some Republicans, including state Sen. Buddy Carter of Pooler, have expressed interest in running there if it’s GOP-friendly turf.

Chris Cashman, spokesman for Barrow, reacted cautiously.

“I would imagine they’ll be quite a few draft maps floating around until the ink dries on the final one,” said Cashman. “But the congressman has said all along that he’s going to run in the 12th — wherever it is.”

Kingston represents the islands area and other Republican-leaning parts of Chatham. His current district is lopsidedly Republican.

It would remain mostly Republican, but less so, if it included all of Chatham, which leans slightly Democratic.

The draft map also adds part of Republican-leaning Effingham County to the 1st.

Kingston won easily between 1996 and 2002, when all of Savannah was in the 1st.

He’s apparently not taking any chances; he recently reported banking almost $1 million for his 2012 re-election effort.

His office didn’t respond to requests for comment Friday.

But state Rep. Mickey Stephens, D-Savannah, who’s on the reapportionment panel, said he’s heard Kingston is “not warm” about the proposed changes.

Savannah Mayor Pro Tem Edna Jackson has said she wants both Barrow and Kingston to continue representing the city.

“I hope they rethink that idea,” she said in reference to the draft map. “We have been well-served by having two congressmen representing us. They work well together on behalf of our needs.”

Jackson also expressed concern that removing majority-black Savannah from the 12th might dilute minority voting strength there.

On Friday, a different draft said to be under consideration by lawmakers surfaced. It shows all of Chatham — and all of Effingham — being added to the 1st.

But Lane said he’s not seen that map.

 

More

Savannah River Site resumes normal activity

A suspicious item was discovered Wednesday afternoon at the Savannah River National Laboratory which prompted emergency responseactivities.

... Read more