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Tuck's plan about as fair as it gets

By Staff
Oct. 24, 2001
Lt. Gov Amy Tuck said her concern in choosing to support the so-called "block" or "regional" redistricting plan over the "tornado" or "boot" plan concocted by legislative cronies of current 4th District Democratic Congressman Ronnie Shows is that of "fairness."
How dare Tuck a duly-elected Democrat talk about wanting to be "fair" to Mississippians in drawing a redistricting plan. That's apparently the view of Tuck's own party and she confirmed last week that she's under the gun from the Mississippi Democratic Party proper and from regional and county Democratic kingmakers who purport to have sufficient clout to punish Tuck and other legislative Democrats who don't fall in line behind the Shows-backed plan.
What's the Democratic party line? Congressional redistricting isn't about being "fair" and Mississippi Democrats are making no pretense that they are seeking a "fair" redistricting of the state as we cut the existing five congressional districts down to four new ones.
Witness a Sept. 28 letter from Mississippi Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole to Tuck one designed to force her to toe the Democratic Party line in redistricting.
Cole: Not about being fair
A paragraph later, Cole speaks to the "fairness" question: "This is not about being fair.' This is about which party controls the Congress in 2003 and we all know that if the Republicans controlled the levers of power in the Legislature, they would never be fair' to us." Republicans don't necessarily want "fair" districts, either, but at least Republican chairman Jim Herring had sense enough not to admit that in writing.
Both parties want to win. Shows claims that he can't win unless he gets a district tailor-made for him by his legislative cronies that hands him a 39 percent black voting age population in a new district.
Republican 3rd District Congressman Chip Pickering claims he needs a 29 percent BVAP to have a chance to win in a showdown with Shows in the new district but says Tuck's plan that splits the difference between 39 percent and 29 percent at 34.35 percent is fair.
Tuck's plan leaves Shows and Pickering in the same new district. The plan backed by House Speaker Tim Ford and other cronies of Shows leaves him safe in the new showdown district while casting Pickering into present 5th district.
Did the Dems help Tuck?
The question then is begged of whether Amy Tuck really needs the backing of the Democratic Party proper.
Tuck got precious little party support financial or otherwise in her 1999 race for lieutenant governor. Key Democrats some of the same ones threatening and attempting to intimidate Tuck now were solidly behind Democratic primary opponent Grey Ferris. In the general election, key teacher unions backed GOP nominee Bill Hawks.
Democratic State Rep. Ferr Smith of Carthage told this newspaper Monday that Tuck's plan didn't give Democrats "a fair chance." Legislative redistricting chieftain Rep. Tommy Reynolds whined that Tuck's plan gave Pickering too much.
A Republican with a 35 percent BVAP has "too much." What a joke…
Who are these guys trying to kid? The entire House redistricting exercise engineered by Reynolds and supported by Ford has been geared solely to give fellow Democrat Shows a safe, sweetheart district. That's still their goal.
Sid Salter is Perspective Editor/Columnist at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson and a syndicated Mississippi political columnist. Call him at (601) 961-7084, write P.O. Box 40, Jackson, MS 39206, or e-mail ssalter@jackson.gannett.com.

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