It’s not often that a Black lawmaker or candidate thinks that having too many African-American constituents is a bad thing. Historically, they fight to maintain or create majority minority political districts. But when South Carolina’s Republican-led legislature tried to pack the district represented by state Rep. Mia Butler Garrick with Black voters in its new redistricting map, she suggested it go back to the drawing board. A federal lawsuit filed by six local African-Americans challenging the map had its first day in court today, The State reports.
According to the suit, which challenges 20 state House districts and one congressional district, Republican leaders are trying to make the Democratic Party the “Black” party by cramming as many Black voters into as few districts as possible. This, they allege, will “bleach out” all of the other districts to create a permanent Republican majority. States must redraw districts every ten years to reflect population shifts.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell denied the allegation, and said in an affidavit filed in the case that there was “no strategy or goal of eliminating white Democrats by ‘eliminating districts where white and Black voters vote together to elect a Democrat’.” But Garrick, who in 2010 easily defeated a white Republican opponent in her current district where two-thirds of the voters were white, doesn’t believe it.
“It’s a brilliant strategy. [Republicans] base it on what [Black Democrats] have historically said we wanted. And that was to increase the majority-minority districts to ensure minority representation,” she told The State. Garrick believes that GOP plan would “eliminate white Democrats” and “every time a voter goes to the polls and sees a ‘D’ by the candidate’s name, they will know that candidate is African-American … and create a permanent [Republican] majority.”
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