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VOL. 46 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 7, 2022

Speaker: Nashville US House seat to split in redistricting

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee House Republicans plan to carve fast-growing Nashville into multiple congressional seats, making it potentially easier for the state's Republican-dominated congressional delegation to flip a previously Democratic-controlled district, House Speaker Cameron Sexton confirmed Monday.

Sexton told The Associated Press the newly drawn map will be unveiled later this week, but he declined to detail just how many splits Nashville-Davidson County will face. The 5th District has long been centered on the state's capital city and has been a safe Democratic stronghold in a state overwhelmingly controlled by Republicans. It contains all of Davidson and Dickson counties, and part of Cheatham County.

"I won't give an exact number. but it's either two or three," he said of the potential number of district splits Nashville could see.

Speculation has swirled for months over how fast-growing Davidson County would be redrawn during the Republican-supermajority General Assembly's once-a-decade task of carving up new legislative and congressional districts. Democratic leaders have pleaded to keep the county seat whole, but they've had little sway with the state's GOP members.

Currently, Tennessee's U.S. House delegation includes seven Republicans and just two Democrats, whose districts center on Nashville and Memphis.

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Democrat, has held the Nashville-area House seat since 2003. Before that, he spent time serving in the House from 1983 to 1995.

Cooper's office did not immediately respond to emailed request for comment.

"I've never bought into the approach that having multiple people represent a big city is bad thing," Sexton said.

Sexton said it's possible that the map could create a toss-up district in Nashville.

"It depends on the election, how people vote. It could become a marginal district on both sides," Sexton said. "Elections are crazy. They can swing 10 points, one side or the other."

Lawmakers are using newly released U.S. Census Bureau data to redraw state and congressional districts currently dominated by Republicans.

The map proposals, shaped around state and federal requirements, will be taken up during this year's legislative session. House members have already unveiled their new proposed state House map while their plan for the congressional map will be disclosed publicly Wednesday.

The maps must be approved by the House and Senate chambers. Republican Gov. Bill Lee has veto power over the finalized plan, but he's not expected to put up many objections.

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