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Mississippi redistricting intrigue intensifies

By Staff
From staff, wire reports
Nov 4. 2001
JACKSON A key legislative negotiator involved in trying to carve the state into new congressional districts reportedly resigned from the conference committee over the weekend.
Legislators said Rep. Bobby Moody, D-Louisville, a key member of the House leadership who drafted a potential compromise redistricting plan, was reportedly replaced on the panel with Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville.
Moody was not immediately available for comment early today as House and Senate conferees prepared to continue their work on the political sensitive process. The impact of Moody's departure from the conference committee was not immediately clear.
Negotiators toiled through the weekend, making offers and counteroffers, but lawmakers ended a fourth day of negotiations Sunday without an agreement.
There are just serious differences in points of view,'' Senate Elections Chairman Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said Sunday evening.
House Apportionment and Elections Chairman Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston, said the House had made painful'' concessions, including agreeing to a Senate wish to put all of Rankin County in a new central district.
To get our people to come to where we've come is just like pulling teeth,'' Reynolds said.
Mississippi is losing one of its five congressional seats because it grew more slowly than many other states in the 1990s. Lawmakers started a special session Thursday to draw new boundaries.
At issue is how to combine areas now represented by Republican Chip Pickering and Democrat Ronnie Shows, who are expected to compete in a new district next year.
Pickering's current district is in the east central part of the state, and Shows' includes parts of Jackson and the southwestern corner of the state.
Rankin County, a Republican stronghold, is now represented by Pickering.
The House passed a plan Thursday that put northern Rankin in a heavily Republican district dipping down from north Mississippi. The northern district is now represented by the GOP's Roger Wicker.
The Senate passed a plan Thursday putting all of Rankin into a new district that combines parts of Shows' and Pickering's territories.
Compromise maps offered by both chambers over the weekend put Rankin entirely in the new, combined district.
The House tried to offset that Republican advantage by offering a 38 percent black voting age population in the new district something that would help Democrats.
Neither plan will win a beauty contest,'' Reynolds said.
House Speaker Tim Ford and Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck, who appointed the redistricting negotiators, also were at the Capitol Sunday. Some lawmakers said they were working behind the scenes to push along the compromise process.