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TN Politics: Republicans "Map Out" Ways to Remove Dems from Office


Tennessee's redistricting process has become a tool for party leaders to disburse urban liberal voters into newly made districts dominated by rural conservatives.

Shelby and Davidson Counties (Memphis and Nashville respectively) have long been Tennessee's Democratic strongholds. Those metropolitan areas also have the state's largest concentration of urban and minority citizens.

But because Davidson is located in the center of the state, Republicans saw an opportunity to divide the county into three parts, attaching each to a different larger geographical area dominated by white, rural Republicans. In this way, Nashville's Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper will likely face a tough reelection.

Political analyst Otis Sanford says that while redistricting is legal, it's part of an ongoing power grab in a state where Republicans already control 75 percent of the General Assembly and seven out of nine congressional districts.

On a smaller scale, Republicans also consolidated conservative areas of Shelby County so that politicians such as State Senator Brian Kelsey — who goes on trial next year for allegedly violating campaign finance laws — won't have to worry about losing his seat to a Democrat.

Congressman Steve Cohen, who has long focused on legislation that serves his largely Black, urban constituency, had rural Tipton County added to his congressional district. Sanford said Cohen will likely continue to focus on what his own city and principal voters want.

Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher's favorite haunt is the intersection of history and cultural change. He is WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.