ATLANTA — The Republican-controlled state House of Representatives approved a new congressional map Monday, the final act in a once-a-decade redistricting special session.
House members voted 96-68 virtually along party lines.
Douglas County, which has been entirely in the 13th Congressional District, will be split into two districts under the map.
The eastern side of the county will remain in the 13th District, which is represented by Congressman David Scott, an Atlanta Democrat. The western side of the county will now be in the 3rd District represented by Republican Congressman Drew Ferguson of Newnan.
Legislative Democrats had proposed a congressional map that likely would have led to a 7-7 split in the delegation, which they argued would reflect the 50-50 partisan divide that has arisen in Georgia as a result of minority population growth since the last census in 2010.
Instead, the new map is expected to pave the way for Republicans to gain one seat on their current 8-6 majority for a 9-5 advantage.
To accomplish that, the map looks likely to re-flip the 6th Congressional District Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath of Marietta won in 2018 after it had been in GOP hands for decades.
The district, currently concentrated in ethnically diverse suburban East Cobb, North Fulton and North DeKalb counties, now stretches into more exurban and even rural communities in predominantly white Forsyth, Dawson and eastern Cherokee counties.
Attorney Jake Evans, a Lithia Springs High grad, is among several Republicans already campaigning for the 6th District seat.
McBath wasted little time Monday announcing a change of plans after Monday’s vote.
Within an hour of the virtually party line vote in the General Assembly, McBath announced she will run in the newly redrawn and much more Democrat-friendly 7th District next year.
The move potentially sets up a primary showdown with fellow Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux of Suwanee, who won that Gwinnett County-based seat last year.
“It is no mystery why Republicans and the NRA (National Rifle Assocation) have decided I’m their top target,” said McBath, who was elected in 2018 on an anti-gun platform after her teenage son was shot to death.“As a Black woman, activist, and mother on a mission — they would like nothing more than to stop me from speaking truth to power about the gun lobby and Republican Party in Congress. So let me make something very clear: I refuse to stand down.”
Rep. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, chairman of the House Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment Committee, bristled at the Democrats’ accusations of targeting. She said it’s necessary to move voters out of districts that have grown larger than the 755,000 legally required for even distribution and shift voters into other districts that are underpopulated.
“We don’t draw maps to protect incumbents,” she said. “We draw maps for the people.”
The other specific complaint Democrats raised Monday was over Republicans adding voters from heavily Black South Cobb County to the largely white, rural Northwest Georgia district represented by conservative firebrand Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome.
But House Minority Leader David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, said there’s more to the issue than Greene, including the map splitting Cobb between four congressional districts, and dividing South Cobb alone three ways.
“This is not about Marjorie Taylor Greene or whoever else represents the district,” he said. “It’s about fairness.”
But House Speaker David Ralston said the decision to extend the 14th District to the south was not politically motivated.
“That district needed to pick up about 36,000 people,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. “We had to go somewhere and find them. … That’s a challenge.”
Democrats are expected to file lawsuits challenging the congressional map and well as new Georgia House and Senate maps lawmakers adopted earlier in the special session.
Ralston said he’s confident the maps will be upheld.
“The maps — the rhetoric notwithstanding — are fair. They follow the law and the Voting Rights Act,” he said. “I was very proud of the process and the work that went into this.”
Reports from Capital Beat News Service were used in this article.