It wouldn't be fair to call Athens' lot in the current redistricting session a win, or even a wash, but honestly, it could be a lot worse.
Yes, we (along with a lot of Oconee County. Hi neighbors!) are getting shafted in state house districts, in order to create a bizarre little district where Republican-in-training Doug McKillip could win. But, on the state senate side, there's not a whole lot of change. And, in the proposed Congressional maps to voted on soon -- perhaps before you read this -- some of us will be saying a fond farewell to Rep. Paul Broun.
Peach Pundit's Charlie Harper says Broun's losing the "vast majority" of his current 10th District. The Banner-Herald's Blake Aued says it's a little more than half. Any way you slice it however, Broun got hosed.
Locally, the 10th District (notice I didn't say Broun's district -- not just yet) holds on to all of Oconee County, but Athens-Clarke County gets carved up into two districts. About two-thirds of us in the southern end of the county remain in the 10th, while the rest of us are in the new 9th District.
One can't help but wonder if there's not a little bit of vengeance going on on the part of the General Assembly here. Remember that Broun defeated former State Senator Jim Whitehead for this seat back in a 2007 special election. Whitehead, from Columbia County, was the establishment's choice for the seat, and a number of Republican legislative leaders in Atlanta had egg on their faces when Broun won.
So, if you're Paul Broun, what do you do? Roughly half your district is in the new 10th, and the other half is in the new 9th. So where do you run?
Broun's hero snow has always been in the North Georgia mountains -- they love him up there -- but he's also been a fixture in Oconee. You can't have your cake and eat it too under this map, and the good doctor has got a make a choice.
There aren't many more divisive figures than Broun in local politics, at least in recent memory. For every one of you who hopes he runs in the other district so you can be shed of him, he's got an equally ardent defender ready to gnash teeth and rend garments if deprived of Broun's representation.
As for me, count me in the former category. Broun's main talent as a Congressman has been to get headlines. When it comes to actually bringing home the bacon for Athens-Clarke County, he's been disppointing at best.
The larger question is, should Athens have two representatives in the U.S. House? Given Broun's quasi-Constitutional opposition to bringing back any federal money to the folks at home (which includes, lest we forget, the largest research university in the state), it might be nice to have at least one person in D.C. willing to play the game. Right now, it seems like UGA's strongest defenders are Reps. John Barrow and Jack Kingston, both of whom live in the Savannah area.
Broun has until next spring to actually make a decision on which vastly different district he wants to run in, but don't let that stop you from raving about it for the next six months or so.