As usual during any reapportionment, those doing the drawing are couching the process in talk of needing to change the boundaries in order to ensure all the districts have roughly the same population. But also as usual with reapportionment, the not-so-secret motive by the party in power (in this case the Republicans) is to shift lines around to shore up weak spots. The resulting map was drawn by state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-north Cobb).
While the proposed changes to Northeast Cobb District 3 of Commissioner JoAnn Birrell have gotten most of the ink thus far, it’s the Southeast Cobb District 2 of Commissioner Bob Ott that has GOP strategists worried. That’s because it is the most politically balanced of any of the four county commission districts.
A look at the results from the 2012 presidential election shows why. Northwest Cobb District 1 (Helen Goreham) and District 3 (Birrell) both voted for Republican Mitt Romney by at least a 30 percentage-point margin. But Barack Obama was much more competitive in Ott’s District 2. Romney won there, but only by six percentage points. Lisa Cupid’s Southwest Cobb District 4 gave Obama the lion’s share of its votes. He beat Romney by 65 percent to 34 percent (an almost exact mirror image of the two north Cobb districts).
What scares Cobb Republican leaders is that if you combine that day’s results from the precincts in the two south Cobb districts, Obama handily won south Cobb by 15,000 voters (54 percent to 44 percent). Romney won the two north Cobb districts that day by a combined 53,000 votes, or 65 percent to 33 percent.
COBB REPUBLICANS also find no relief when looking at the trajectory of the county’s long-term voter trends. Black voters tend to vote overwhelming for Democrats, and the number of black voters in Cobb has slightly more than doubled since the millennium began.
There were 50,861 black registered voters in November 2000, a population that swelled to 101,978 by November 2012. The number of voters registered as “other” has also multiplied considerably, from 11,762 in November 2000 to 47,222 in 2012.
Cobb’s number of white voters, meanwhile, was close to stagnant during those years, edging up from 254,780 in November 2000 to just 266,401 in November 2012.
Looked at in terms of percentages, Cobb’s breakdown went from 80.3 percent white and 16 percent black in November 2000 to 64.1 percent white and 24.5 percent black in November 2012.
SO WHAT WE’RE SEEING is the Cobb legislative delegation redrawing the southern boundary of Birrell’s Republican-rich District 3. It now ends at North Marietta Parkway but under the proposed map will extend south to the Smyrna area, picking up a good many Democratic voters along the way.
The other half of the strategy draws the northern boundary of Ott’s District 2 deep into northeast Cobb toward Roswell to pick up Republican voters there and try to ensure his district stays Republican when it’s next up for a vote in 2016.
Birrell has made it known she’s not happy with her new lines, but ultimately voted with Commission Chairman Tim Lee, Goreham and Cupid for a resolution supporting the new map. Ott voted against the map, saying reapportionment is a legislative duty and that he’ll represent whoever the legislature gives him. But he’s seen as being quietly supportive of the new map, for obvious reasons.
MOST OF COBB’S city officials have been mum about the new map — with the exception of Ward 3 Smyrna Councilwoman Teri Anulewicz. She’s unhappy that it splits Smyrna “right down the middle” between Cupid’s district and Ott’s and also lumps part of her city into Birrell’s district.
“If they think Smyrna is a ‘community of interest’ with Kennesaw, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the districts they purport to represent,” she said of the legislators.
“I understand that they’re concerned with the way the numbers are trending. But that doesn’t excuse the way very little thought was given to this.”
She thinks the process is happening too fast and wonders why there have been no public hearings on the new map.
“This seems a little bit hasty and a little bit ‘backroom,’” she added. “It’s very disappointing. I think we should expect more from Cobb County.”
WILL THE GOP’S CREATIVE CARTOGRAPHY be sufficient to assure itself of a 4-1 margin on the commission in the 2016 election, when the new map would take effect? Probably.
But the number of black voters in Cobb has grown by roughly 25,000 people every six years since 2000, and it looks inevitable that sooner rather than later there will be a second Democrat on the commission, no matter what sort of redistricting “magic” the Republicans try to muster.
POLITICS: Karen Hallacy has unexpectedly dropped out of the race for the state House District 45 seat now held by Rep. Matt Dollar (R-east Cobb).
Hallacy sent an email to supporters this week attributing her decision to the fact that her father, who lives in Vancouver, Wash., has just been diagnosed with another onset of cancer.
“After learning the results of the biopsy, visiting with my parents … and consulting with my extended family, I have decided that it is in the best interest of my family that I focus on his treatment and recovery,” she said.
Hallacy had been embroiled in controversy ever since announcing her candidacy. She recently had voted, as a member of the Development Authority of Cobb County, in favor of a 10-year, tax abatement for John Williams’ $103 million “Riverwalk” project in the Galleria area. The tax break would have cost the Cobb school system approximately $4.3 million in lost revenue, although it stood to recoup much more than that down the road.
After the MDJ reported that the DACC had approved the tax break without the school board’s knowledge, Hallacy suggested she might “give” her seat on the Authority to a school system representative. That, in turn, raised the hackles of Commissioner Ott, who pointed out that the seat was not hers to give, i.e., that it was an appointment of the county commission.
MORE POLITICS: Campaign kickoff for Cobb Superior Court candidate Juanita Stedman, presently Cobb Juvenile Court judge, is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Moore Ingram law offices on Roswell Street.
Host Committee members include Jimmy and Kate Berry, Tom and Tyler Browning, former U.S. Rep. Buddy and Lillian Darden, Clem and Mary Margaret Doyle, Hylton and Patsy Dupree, U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, Carole Kell, Bill and Cheryl Musial, Devan Seabaugh and former Cobb Commission Chair Earl Smith. ...
Republican 11th District congressional candidate Tricia Pridemore of Marietta has been endorsed by Maggie’s List, a federal political action committee that supports conservative female candidates.
EVENTS: The Cobb Taxpayers Association will host Cobb School Board Chair Kathy Angelucci and member Tim Stultz at its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the House of Lu, 89 Cherokee St., in Marietta, reports CTA head Lance Lamberton. The meeting was to take place Feb. 11 but was canceled because of snow. …
A public meeting will take place at 10 a.m. today at the old Paper Mill Subdivision Club House to discuss the pending purchase of land off Terrell Mill Road for the relocation of Brumby Elementary in east Cobb.