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GOP chairman highlights congressional redistricting

By By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
Oct. 22, 2001
Redrawing Mississippi's congressional district lines is the top priority for the state Republican Party and its chairman Jim Herring.
Herring told The Meridian Star Editorial Board last week that he believes the state legislative committee drafting a redistricting proposal is acting along party lines and favoring Democrats.
Herring said the heavily Democratic joint Legislative Reapportionment and Congressional Redistricting Committee is putting that party's interests ahead of the GOP.
New districts
All states redraw their congressional districts every 10 years. The goal: to keep roughly the same amount of residents in each district and reflect recent population changes and shifts.
Even though Mississippi saw an increase in population between the 1990 census and the 2000 census, the state grew slower than others. Therefore, Mississippi will lose one of its five congressional seats.
That has set up a battle in the Legislature and the Redistricting Committee as lawmakers race to redraw districts before next fall's congressional elections and the March 1 qualifying deadline.
Two possible plans, one called the "Tornado Plan" and another called the "Black Caucus Plan," would stretch the 1st District from North Mississippi south into metropolitan Jackson. They also would split Lauderdale County between Central Mississippi and South Mississippi districts.
Lawsuit filed
Complicating matters is a lawsuit two Jackson residents filed Oct. 5, asking the Hinds County Chancery Court to redraw congressional districts if the Legislature fails to do so by Dec. 3.
Two prominent Democrats filed the lawsuit, Beatrice Branch and Rims Barber. Herring said the lawsuit is a behind-the-scenes effort by Democrats to have the courts draw the districts.
Besides redistricting, Herring said he also is planning for the 2003 statewide elections. While the GOP now has just one state official Auditor Phil Bryant Herring said he expects better results in 2003.
State elections
Herring named several Republicans he said would fare well in a state race, including Bryant, Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall and former 4th District U.S. Rep. Mike Parker.
Herring met for an hour Thursday with Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith. Herring said he tried to encourage the mayor to run for statewide office including governor.
Herring said Smith is known across the state as a strong leader. Plus, Herring said, he was impressed that Smith has been elected to three consecutive terms in office.
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228, or e-mail him at fcarmichael@themeridianstar.com.

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