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Marsden: GOP Redistricting Attempt a 'Sad Day for the Commonwealth'

Narrowly passed surprise legislation would shift Marsden's 37th District, mainly into Prince William County.

The surprise legislation proposed and passed Monday by Virginia's Senate — which would redraw some of state senate district lines in favor of Republicans — is "a sad day for the Commonwealth," State Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37th) said Tuesday morning.

Virginia's Senate Republicans tacked on the redistricting proposal as an amendment to a larger bill, saying the move would help better represent African Americans in some of the state's districts.

But opponents of the measure — introduced by Sen. John Watkins (R-10th), who represents a district west of Richmond — say it was an "underhanded" way to give Republicans a senate majority: The state Senate is currently split between Democrats and Republicans; some say the end result would leave Democrats only 13 Senate districts.

The 20-19 vote was taken while Democratic State Sen. Harry Marsh, a 79-year-old civil rights leader, traveled to Washington for President Obama's second inauguration. 

"It was a complete surprise," Marsden told Patch on Tuesday morning. "They're calling it 'technical adjustments,' but you can only make changes [to districts] in years ending in '1'. I don't understand why they're going down this unconstitutional path."

As it's drawn now, the 37th District wiggles through parts of Annandale, Burke, Fairfax Station,Centreville and Chantilly.

The proposed legislation redraws those lines so Marsden would represent more of Prince William County, and much less of Fairfax County. It makes George Barker's district highly difficult" for a Democrat to win, Marsden points out.

Four other senate districts would see lines significantly change under the bill, which was reportedly also a surprise to Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The governor "is not happy about it," Marsden said. "He wanted to concentrate on transportation."

The legislation now goes to the Republican-controlled House.

"I don't know what the House is going to do," Marsden said. "It will go to the House for them to approve. If they approve it, there's a chance the governor could veto it."

"I love this job. It's a real honor serving, but it takes a good bit of the edge off when you don't feel proud to serve with some of the people you're serving with," he added.

Tracy January 22, 2013 at 06:17 PM
It's pretty darned underhanded and speaks to a weakness by the GOP.
Kathy Keith January 22, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Kind of like the deception the Dems in Congress used to pass the "Affordable Health Care Act."
Catherine S. Read January 23, 2013 at 12:47 PM
The purpose of the Affordable Health Care Act is to keep the country from going bankrupt from costs that are spiraling out of control while millions of Americans in the "greatest country on earth" go without any basic health care coverage at all. The purpose of the GOP political coup on Monday is a power grab. A way to make certain the GOP retains power inside the state by gerrymandering districts in a way that is clearly unconstitutional. I think you are comparing apples and oranges Kathy.
Isis January 23, 2013 at 01:38 PM
This is a good way for people to decide to take a hard look at the Republican way of doing things. Either way, all the reps should have voted, this just looks really bad, even McDonnell knows it.
Isis January 23, 2013 at 01:39 PM
I agree, Tracy.
Jim Daniels January 23, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Typical tactic of a Republican Party that knows it is on the wrong side of history...they can't win with their ideas, so they attempt to rig the game. It may work in the short term, but in the long run will cause their Party much harm. It does have one beneficial side effect though...it energizes Democrats looking to make sure Ken Cuccinelli never spends a day as Governor of the Commonwealth
Zeivah January 23, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Well interesting how the only way Republicans can win is to cheat. The party of family values, God, country and apple pie tried to keep people from voting in the general election, they make phony phone calls, they snaked and redistricted until some of the snake lines are so thin it's ridiculous. Now they pass a bill on a FEDERAL HOLIDAY when they know one member is out. What I want to ask these Republicans is this .... since you all are so high and mighty about going to church and preaching about family values, God and Jesus. What would Jesus say? Is this how you teach your kids to win at all costs? In my religion this would be cheating and I would not be very proud of myself. Is this how you all get "born again?" Hope this gets kicked to the curb.
Olga Hernandez January 23, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Article II, section 6 of the VIRGINIA Constitution clearly states that redistricting be done once a decade in years ending in "1". This was more than a technical adjustment, it redrew the map completely for GOP advantage. It will backfire. They've done nothing but motivate the Democrats!
TS January 23, 2013 at 07:55 PM
I agree as well, Tracy. I am completely disgusted by the elected Republican officials. This would be unacceptable from any party. These people are elected to represent ALL citizens, not just the party itself. There is never any justification for cheating to win. Republicans and their supporters seem to have lost all sense of right and wrong. They are increasingly unethical and immoral. Enough, already. Virginia does not need this.
Mary S. January 23, 2013 at 11:21 PM
I agree with Tracy, these guys are a bunch of dogs. Please email Watkins with your concerns since the link is available in the above story. I did. I have to apologize to dogs...sorry, a bunch of dirtballs.
Mary S. January 23, 2013 at 11:22 PM
that is truly the ONLY way the win.
Mary S. January 23, 2013 at 11:24 PM
Maybe we need to write our wonderful governor??? He questioned it also...we need to question him. He has been some what reasonable (unless it pertains to women issues).
Rich (That's my name, not my status) January 24, 2013 at 12:06 AM
Surely you MUST be jesting!!!??? Democrats have done this very thing for decades, every chance we get, and so do the Republicans. If you call for one to stop it, then ALL must stop it, but that'll never happen because we will never give up a chance to do the very same thing. More importantly, this is just more of the Huffington Post and Chantilly Patch just trying to stir up the pot to gain readership by inciting readers to riot. Seems like their manipulation of readers feelings is working.
Sandra January 24, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Funny thing is, Republicans don't play fair, even within their own party! Look at what Cuccinelli and his supporters engineered so that Bill Bolling wouldn't be able to get the GOP nomination. I hope this does energize everyone (not just Democrats) to vote against the GOP on the next ballot. We need some reasonable representatives in office, as our state has been embarrassed enough by all of the shenanigans pulled by the GOP.

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