Redistricting in TN

Wednesday was a whirlwind for a lot of the State legislators here in Tennessee, but it probably felt more like a tornado for TN State Senator Kerry Roberts.

Quick backtrack: Sen. Roberts, a business-owner and accountant, ran unsuccessfully in the 6th Congressional District primary in 2010, losing to eventual general election winner Diane Black. Kerry then ran in and won a special election for Congressman Black’s empty State Senate seat. Roberts won a closely contested primary and dominated the democratic opponent in a January election to take his first elected office.

Also worth noting: Kerry is a family friend. When my family first came to Nashville, he was the CPA for my dad’s first company. In the spring/summer of 2010, Kerry and Dad often spoke as they both ran for the GOP nomination for Congress in their respective districts. Still, this story is interesting.

After each national census is completed (every ten years), law requires that states redraw the district lines for their State House and Senate districts, as well as the federal representatives in Congress. Yesterday the changes to Tennessee’s map went public for the first time, and many legislators should be preparing for a tougher election than they might have imagined.

The biggest story for conservatives in the Tennessee Senate? Sitting Senator Kerry Roberts appears to have been eliminated from his existing seat due to the lines being redrawn in such a way that his seat essentially disappears to make way for a seat made up entirely of neighboring Sumner County, where former State Senator and current Congressman (I can’t remember is she prefers man/woman) Diane Black’s friend Ferrell Haile is planning to run. His home in Robertson County is now in sitting Senator Summerville’s district, who is technically not up for re-election until 2014.

Davidson County also looks like a mess. I’d bet no other districts look so heavily gerrymandered. I can’t help but wonder what this does for Jeff Yarbro and his possible desire to run for a seat in Nashville at some point, either in 2012 or 2014. He lost a hotly contested primary to Sen. Doug Henry in 2010, who went on to beat Republican Steve Dickerson that fall.

Speaking of Dickerson, he has announced his intention to run against Sen. Joe Haynes. He raised considerable funds in 2010 when he ran against James Chesser in the primary and then against Henry. Sen. Henry and Dickerson were very similar as candidates even though Henry has run as a Democrat for years. Sen. Henry had been in the legislature for some time, representing a large chunk of Davidson county over the years, so his win was not a big surprise. It would seem Dickerson has a much better shot of getting in now with the current district lines and a far more liberal State Senator as opposition.

There are many other potential stories with these lines, (Kelsey/Kyle in Memphis, Berke in Chattanooga, etc.). But I truly believe more heads have been turned by his district disappearing from underneath him.

It’s going to be a weird year.


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