|A bill that would have done what McDonnell proposed on the campaign trail - create a bipartisan commission to draft electoral maps transparently and with public comment - was killed in the House of Delegates. The governor said nothing to help its passage in a legislative body controlled by his party.
That bill was introduced by Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax). Plum has advocated the cause of bipartisan, independent redistricting in Richmond for more than 25 years. He reportedly called the governor's office and gave McDonnell a heads-up that the bill was coming up in subcommittee.
Plum hoped that McDonnell would somehow signal his support for a reform he had embraced so readily during the campaign. The governor did nothing, and the bill died in the subcommittee on a 3-5 vote, with all the Republicans opposing it.
The State Senate is expected to pass a similar bill, sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), with bipartisan support and send it over to the House. However, without McDonnell's backing, that bill is sure to fail there.
The sorry history of redistricting in Virginia, as in most states, has resulted in legislative districts that are non-competitive. The Post reported that in the 100 races for the House of Delegates last fall, "the second-place finisher came within 10 percentage points of the winner in only 13 of the 100 contests."
Many times, it is impossible to even find someone to run against the incumbent in state legislative districts. The outcome is pretty much predetermined.
Our redistricting "system" right now actually should be called an incumbency preservation system. That's not just the case in state legislative races, either. Virginia districts of the House of Representatives have been gerrymandered as well.
It's time that changed in the Commonwealth. It won't as long as McDonnell continues being the "do-nothing" governor he has been so far.
Budget amendments, a transportation plan, and now bipartisan redistricting, have all been set aside by McDonnell. I wonder what will be next?