No, there won’t be a second Democratic U.S. House seat in Alabama, despite what fan fiction the Montgomery Advertiser publishes
The news that Alabama would keep all seven U.S. House seats was great news for the state, unless you are in the media covering Alabama politics or in the Alabama Democratic Party.
The Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman, the guy with the most accurate last name in journalism, is trying his best to make an argument that he and every person he speaks to in his story knows is silly.
The headline is innocuous enough:
Alabama Democrats could seek second majority-minority congressional seat
Sure they do. I also seek more money from Yellowhammer News and more radio stations to broadcast my shows, but at least those things are possible.
The premise here is so ridiculously laughable that only someone who has no clue how politics works could have written it, and only a few would pay to read it and then believe it had any chance of happening.
There are seven U.S. House seats in Alabama, one of which is a majority-minority district that has gerrymandered fingers in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Montgomery to secure Democratic U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) a government job until she decides to do something else.
Just look at the map.
Now, look at the math. That district assures a majority-minority.
To get that district, it has to be drawn in a peculiar way. It must be gerrymandered.
If they don’t, she will lose. Maybe another district becomes competitive, but she will lose.
By protecting that seat, the surrounding districts become reliably red.
That is the trade-off.
That’s it. That is the article; there is no need to go any further.
But Lyman apparently needs to hear all of this, so I will persist.
His headline was: “Alabama Democrats could seek second majority-minority congressional seat.”
He first cites Wade Perry, the executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party.
Perry says, “It’s not representative and it’s a direct result of political gerrymandering,” which is true. Sewell’s district is a mess. He then adds, “I don’t know if a second majority-minority district is possible,” so Lyman’s premise is 0-1.
Next up is Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville), who throws more reality in Lyman’s face, but Lyman can’t follow, so he writes this non-quote: “House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, also downplayed the possibility to some extent, though he said he would welcome a second majority-minority district, likely to favor the Democrats.” Brian Lyman is 0-2, closing in on a three-pitch strike out.
From here, Lyman joins State Rep. Dexter Grimsley (D-Newville) in wishing for a new seat and follows that by noting that State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) essentially told him, “No,” but with more patronizing words and ended with, “That doesn’t make any sense at all.”
So Lyman has struck out, but he still demands a few extra swings.
Lyman suggests going to court, which went nowhere before.
federal court last year dismissed the case, ruling that it could not provide “meaningful relief” to the plaintiffs in part because the 2020 Census would soon require the district lines redrawn
Cross your fingers, guys.
And finally, we end up at Yurij Rudensky, redistricting counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center in New York, who argues that the court should gerrymander to give Lyman and the Democrats what they want.
Rudensky states “that if plaintiffs can demonstrate that two districts can be drawn and two districts should be drawn because of the political environment in the state.”
However, the Supreme Court has already ruled on this by deciding this is a political question. Lyman, for some reason, doesn’t even mention that.
Republicans are under no obligation to create U.S. House districts that their political opponents, including Lyman, like.
And that court was a very different court in 2019.
The real story here is not even that complicated.
When Republicans are in control, they draw the lines, and then the media attacks them.
When Democrats are in control, they draw the lines, and then the media praises them.
Gerrymandering is good, until it is bad.
Alabama is a Republican super-majority state. The legislature is not going to draw itself out of power in the state legislature or beyond.
Pretending otherwise is not good reporting. It is embarrassing.
It requires the few readers of this article to pretend they don’t understand politics or to believe that Brian Lyman doesn’t understand politics, which is the far more likely issue here.