Memphis Democrats Squeezed in State Redistricting Plan

On January 4, 2012, in News 2012, by Mark Norris

By Bill Dries,
January 4, 2012

Tennessee Senate Democratic leader Jim Kyle of Memphis and Republican state Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown are in the same Senate district under a redistricting proposal unveiled by Republican legislative leaders Wednesday, Jan. 4, in Nashville.

What Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Senate speaker, calls the “regional integrity plan” would also move District 33, now represented by Democrat Reginald Tate, to Middle Tennessee.

The district that runs the entire southern border of Shelby County would be divided among the newly configured state Senate districts 29, 31 and 32.

District 32, represented by Senate Republican leader Mark Norris of Collierville, would lose its Dyer and Lauderdale County territory to one of three newly created rural West Tennessee districts.

But District 32 would keep Tipton County and take in more Shelby County territory.

The Kyle-Kelsey pairing has long been anticipated by political observers, including Kyle.

Kyle had even quizzed Kelsey at a public event both attended last year about the possible boundaries to come.

Kyle also considered running in the Democratic primary for District Attorney General later this year before opting to not make the race by last year’s filing deadline. He was also among the finalists for one of the appointed positions on the countywide school board but was not selected by the Shelby County Commission.

“The map emphasizes regional integrity and adheres to state and federal laws as well as court precedent,” Ramsey said in a written statement in which he also noted the plan is the first ever for the Senate drawn by a Republican majority.

He also noted the plan pairs two Republican incumbents in Robertson and Sumner counties.

The Senate’s GOP leaders, including Ramsey and Norris, were the regional coordinators for the working group that put together the proposal.

The state House proposal from that chamber’s Republican leadership was surprising in the Memphis Democrats that wound up in the same district.

Democratic state Reps. Antonio Parkinson and Jeanne Richardson are in the same district. And Democrats Barbara Cooper and G.A. Hardaway are paired in another Shelby County district.

Republicans and Democrats in the House expected the Shelby County delegation would lose two Democratic seats.

Collierville Republican Curry Todd was the coordinator for the Shelby County part of the proposal.

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