New redistricting plan splits Tipton County into two congressional districts

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:37 PM CST
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TIPTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Two members of Congress would represent Tipton County under a new redistricting plan submitted Tuesday by Tennessee Republicans.

The proposal would split Tipton County in half along Highway 51.

The eastern portion would remain part of Republican Congressman David Kustoff’s district. The western portion would become part of Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen’s district.

The plan differs from the one submitted last week.

Under that plan, the entire county would have become part of Cohen’s district, which includes nearly all of Memphis.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, said the change came after talking with people in both counties.

“The conversation shifted from rather than having all of Tipton County be in the 9th,” said Johnson. " I said several times it would be beneficial to that county to split in order to have representation from two congressmen.”

State Senator Katrina Robinson, D-Memphis, questioned why Republicans didn’t keep all of Cohen’s district within Shelby County as it is now.

“Shelby County’s population threshold is enough for one congressional district and then some,” said Robinson.

The eastern portion of Shelby County, including Germantown and Collierville, are represented by Kustoff.

Johnson said every other congressional district in Tennessee has some combination of urban and rural areas.

“I think there’s benefit there in terms of having that representation and consistent representation of urban and some rural. Some have more rural than others, but it just makes sense from a regional issue,” said Johnson.

But Democrats and progressives aren’t buying it.

They said Republicans want to weaken the influence of Black and progressive voters wherever they can.

“Just because it is within their legal right to draw these maps in this way, does not make it right. Leaders shouldn’t be able to divide up the community to choose their voters. Voters should be able to choose their leader,” said Reverend Dr. Judy Cummings, a retired pastor who joined other pastors in speaking out against the GOP redistricting plans.

The most controversial part of the GOP’s congressional redistricting plan centers around Nashville and Davidson County, which would be divided into three districts.

But District 9, Cohen’s district, would remain a majority-minority district and overwhelmingly Democratic.

More than 61% of the district would be Black, 25% white, 9% Hispanic, and 2% Asian, according to the plan submitted by Republicans.

“Cohen should not have any trouble getting re-elected,” said Action News 5 political analyst Michael Nelson. “When he steps aside at some point and there’s an open seat, then the Republicans may have at least a shot at winning that seat with relying on votes from Tipton County and east Memphis, but that’s probably a few years ahead of us if it’s ever going to happen.”

The Senate is set to take a final vote Thursday. The House is also expected to hold a final vote soon.

If it passes both chambers, it will go to Governor Bill Lee for his signature.

Democrats and progressive groups are threatening legal action if it’s signed into law.

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