Originally created 12/17/00

... and S.C. redistricting 121700 - The Augusta Chronicle



Perhaps the toughest challenge for the upcoming South Carolina legislature will be redistricting in such a way as not to enflame racial tensions. If past is prelude to the future, the outlook is not encouraging.

Historically, white Democrats froze black Democrats out of running for elective office. Then following the 1990 census, and the GOP takeover of the state House, GOP and black lawmakers created as many black-majority legislative districts as possible.

Why did the GOP go along? Because that also created more super-majority white districts apt to go Republican. And, in fact, that's what happened. African-American Democrats picked up seats as did the GOP. White Democrats were left out in the cold.

Then the U.S. Supreme Court struck down racial gerrymandering. So the problem going into a new redistricting year is that the split between black and white Democrats is still there. It may have had something to do with black state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter's decision not to seek another term as House Democratic leader.

A House member currently represents 28,000 people. That could be pushed to over 30,000. But Rep. Roland Smith, R-Langley, doesn't see Aiken County's House and Senate districts changing a great deal. However, Rep. Bill Clyburn, D-Aiken, will need to add more Democrat voters, since GOP-leaning voter growth in his district is evident.