Tennessee Republicans are poised to split up the Democrat-heavy congressional district in Nashville as they redraw Tennessee’s congressional map, further diluting what little power Democrats have in the state.
The 5th Congressional District, which is centered on Nashville, is reliably blue and is currently represented by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN).
U.S. House Democrats have only two Tennessee representatives against the GOP’s seven. With Nashville split up, the Republicans’ advantage would tick up 8–1, as the Tennesseean noted.
Cooper slammed the planned gerrymander, which is being headed by state House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R), as “an insult to all Nashvillians” that is “likely to backfire” on the GOP.
“It’s not conservative to split a county that’s been whole for 240 years,” he said in a statement to the Tennessean and the Associated Press. “The speaker is not splitting his home county, so he can’t be serious when he claims it’s good for Nashville.”
Odessa Kelly, Cooper’s primary challenger, called out the racist element of Republicans cutting up Nashville’s voting district, which has a heavy Black population, to “protect power for a conservative white majority.”
Details of the newly drawn lines are unknown at the moment, but Sexton told the AP that it could involve “two or three” splits of the current district. The map will be unveiled on Wednesday, the Tennessean and the AP report.
The state Republicans’ plan comes amid President Joe Biden’s renewed push for voting rights reform this week, including a speech in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday.