The 22nd and 24th districts of the state House of Representatives remain unchanged because the populations grew at the same rate as the state.
However, both the state Senate and U.S. Congressional districts are expected to change later this week when the bills are placed on the floor for a vote.
Rep. Eric Watson, representing the 22nd Legislative District, submitted an alternative congressional map in the State and Local Government Committee that was drawn to keep Bradley County wholly within the 3rd Congressional District.
“As a member of the State and Local Committee I have filed an amendment to the redistricting legislation placing all of Bradley County in the 3rd Congressional District,” he said before the meeting began. “I will fight for our county. The redistricting process is complicated and we must comply with the federal and state constitution.
“We must also follow the guidelines established by the Voting Rights Act, federal and state case law. Rest assured I will do my best to unite Bradley County,” he stated.
The amendment failed in committee by a vote of 10-5. Watson voted in support of his amendment, but after its failure he later voted in support of the Republican-led redistricting plan.
State Rep. Kevin Brooks, 24th District, co-sponsored the bill. He said Tuesday he was prepared to bring the bill to the floor later this week if it failed in committee.
“The residents of Bradley County have overwhelmingly voiced their dislike of the proposed changes,” Brooks said in a press release. “Additionally, both the Bradley County Commission and the Bradley County Republican Party have passed unanimous Resolutions supporting Bradley County to be left intact in the new redistricting.
“We live in a democracy,” the statement continued. “The sovereignty of this great Republic is the voice of the people. The people have spoken and they do not wish for Bradley County to be split.”
Brooks added, “We are the party of Lincoln. In his Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln famously reminded our country that we should never let this ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’ perish from the earth.
“The people of Bradley County are speaking. We are listening,” he wrote.
State Sen. Mike Bell, whose 9th Senate District was split, also presented an amendment in the Senate Judiciary Committee to keep Bradley County whole.
The amendment, which failed to achieve a majority, would have kept Bradley County whole in the 3rd Congressional District, rather than split between the 3rd and 4th districts as proposed in the present legislative plan that places Cleveland and northwest Bradley County in the 4th District with Rutherford County and Murfreesboro.
“I realize that this is a balancing act and a very difficult process,” Bell said. “However, Bradley County has expressed a strong desire to remain within one congressional district. This plan reconstitutes the congressional districts to place Bradley fully within the 3rd District.”
Both the Bradley County Republican Party and County Commission approved resolutions stating their desire to keep the county intact.
Bradley County Republican Party Chairman David Smith said very little this morning after the action was taken by the General Assembly.
“What’s done is done,” he said. “It’s time to start working to elect Republicans.”
The trio of legislators were placed in the difficult position of violating Republican Party rules had they voted against the Republican plan.
According to the bylaws of the Tennessee Republican Party, an executive committee, as a body, officers, paid staff members, a county Republican Party or executive committee as a body, or a county Republican Party chairman cannot endorse a Republican candidate in a contested primary election.
The exception to the above paragraph is in the case of a member of the General Assembly who voted for any redistricting plan opposed by the Tennessee Republican Party.
Also, the endorsement of a Republican opponent of a Republican candidate is permitted if, as a member of the General Assembly, the candidate voted for a person who was not the nominee of the Republican Caucus of the House or Senate, for any office of the House or Senate.