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Still a sweetheart plan for Democrats

By By Sid Salter
Jan. 9, 2002
Wen you are wrong, you should step up and say so.
I was wrong in my Dec. 22, 2001, column on Hinds County Chancellor Pat Wise's redistricting decision on a point of fact that fact being whether Mississippi State and Ole Miss were in the same congressional district. Allow me to apologize.
I eyeballed a map published in The Clarion-Ledger and trusted my eyes rather than checking a list of Oktibbeha County precincts. And for that, Judge Wise, I apologize. Seems Mississippi State is indeed in the new 3rd District while Ole Miss is left in the new 1st District.
Seems State is in the new 3rd District by a few feet, at any rate. Under the map of Wise's choice, the 1st District comes to the literal western boundary of the MSU campus splitting the city of Starkville and puts the campus on the western boundary of the new 3rd District.
Creative carving at MSU
More succinctly, the Central Starkville, East Starkville, Northeast Starkville and Gillespie Street precincts are in the new 3rd District. The West Starkville and South Starkville precincts are in the new 1st District.
Currently, only the Maben, Double Springs and Sturgis precincts in Oktibbeha County are in the old 1st District while the rest of the county including all of Starkville and the MSU campus is in the old 3rd District.
So I was wrong about MSU. Did I apologize to Judge Wise? If I forgot, let me do it again. A thousand pardons, ma'am.
But understand, I'm apologizing for not finding the boundaries of my alma mater on the map. Not for suggesting that Judge Wise approved a sweetheart redistricting map dictated by her own Democratic Party. Sorry, ma'am, you did that.
Not for suggesting that this ridiculous redistricting map was tailor-made to suit the whims of Democratic U.S. Reps. Ronnie Shows and Bennie Thompson. Not for pointing out that regional economic interests were ignored and not for pointing out that white Republicans in Madison County and Rankin County were simply cut out for the benefit of Thompson and Shows. That happened.
Not for suggesting that after taking a look at the map, one would have to wonder if there was one seat behind the bench or three one each for Wise, Shows and Thompson. That's still my opinion. And most of all, not for suggesting that Judge Wise proved in the ruling that she was a really great Democratic Party judge. It was a thing of Donkey beauty.
Why? Let's look at Oktibbeha County. With some creative carving of the city of Starkville, Democrats can now say with somewhat of a straight face that "MSU is in the 3rd District." Grin. Wink. Nudge.
Oktibbeha split proves it
But it's the new split of the county that tells the real political tale. In the 2000 presidential election, Oktibbeha County gave Republican George Bush a 7,764 to 6,298 vote win over Democrat Al Gore a 55 percent GOP majority.
But in Wise's remap of Oktibbeha County, the new 1st District precincts gave Bush 4,709 votes to 2,242 for Gore while the new 3rd District precincts gave Gore 4,056 votes to 3,055 for Bush which means that the new 3rd District portion of Oktibbeha County is now a 57 percent Democrat majority.
How lucky for Shows. Democrats running the redistricting railroad in Hinds County Chancery Court wanted to take care of Mississippi State folks at least Mississippi State Democrats, that is.
Pardon me if I'm a little skeptical of Democratic Party loyalists and their water bearers in the Mississippi media now whining that they weren't given sufficient credit for separating State and Ole Miss in their latest redistricting scheme.
The split of Oktibbeha County in the Wise decision makes a better case than I ever could for calling the Wise plan what it is a sweetheart plan for Democrats.