Congressional maps head to House floor; Democrats unhappy
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — New congressional maps for South Carolina that are not much different than those drawn more than a decade ago are on their way to the floor of the state House, even after several Democrats voted against them Monday.
The members of the House Judiciary Committee who gave the maps a thumbs-down said they can’t support them because they pull Black voters out of the 1st District around Charleston and put them in the 6th District — the state’s only district with a majority of minority voters.
The 6th District stretches more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) and includes African American areas of Columbia, Black neighborhoods around Charleston and some rural areas.
The plan, passed by the Judiciary Committee as a whole on Monday, continues to put much of Charleston and north Charleston in different congressional districts. The first plan proposed by the House kept much more of the Charleston area intact.
“I’m Black, but I don’t have the same interests as other folk who are Black in Charleston,” said Rep. John King, a Democrat from Rock Hill.
Republicans said the reason for exchanging Black voters for white ones in the two districts was to smooth out uneven growth along the coast with the least amount of disruption. South Carolina added about 500,000 people between 2010 and 2020, according to U.S. Census data.
Democrats asserted that the Republicans’ goal is to make sure the state’s U.S. House delegation continues to comprise six Republicans and one Democrat; Democrats managed to win the 1st District for one term in 2018.
But Republican Rep. Micah Caskey said the GOP lawmakers who drew similar lines in 2010 didn’t think such an upset was possible. He said there is no way to predict exactly where the people moving to the state will settle or what their political beliefs will be.
“I’ve been struck by the confidence and clairvoyance that many of our members have had in projecting what future results would look like,” said Caskey, of West Columbia.
The initial plan from the House made much bigger changes, bringing Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson’s inland 2nd District east to encompass coastal Beaufort County and adjusting Republican Rep. Ralph Norman’s 5th District — which currently extends east from its Rock Hill base — so that it instead extended more south, into part of Columbia. It also made the 1st District, represented by Republican Nancy Mace, more competitive and Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn’s 6th District more compact.
The congressional map now heading to the South Carolina House is similar to a proposal by the state Senate that hasn’t come up for a vote in that body.
The U.S. House maps will likely be one of the first things the General Assembly takes up when the 2022 session starts Tuesday.
Candidate filing for the new districts is set to start in mid-March, with primaries scheduled for June.
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.