As soon as the first map was released, it became painfully clear that the legislative gods of reapportionment had not done Forsyth County any favors in the redrawing of state congressional districts.
While there had been some hope that Forsyth, with its population growth over the past decade, might be a major player in a redrawn district, the county instead finds itself carved into two districts with power bases elsewhere.
Instead, Cherokee County looks to be in the catbird seat to control a redrawn district including Cherokee, Bartow and part of Cobb. It’s not hard to imagine that the Cherokee residence of a certain high profile, ambitious, powerful state lawmaker might have come into play in the decision-making process.
For Forsyth, the current proposal would mean the county is part of two different congressional districts, without enough leverage to dominate either. The north end of the county would become the southern tip of a mountain district including 16 other counties, while the southern end would be part of a district dominated by heavily populated portions of Gwinnett County.
Of course it’s not all a done deal yet. Once the final vote of the legislature puts a stamp of approval on the map, it still must pass muster with the Voting Rights folks in the Justice Department. And there is still the possibility of lawsuits being filed, with some speculation that Democrats may do so in order to argue that their numbers are being unfairly diminished.
In addition, some top officials have already said that state House and Senate districts will be tweaked when the legislature convenes in January, so it’s not impossible to think that congressional lines might also be shifted as well. But it seems unlikely.
State political leaders have gone to great lengths to show that this year’s reapportionment process has been handled much more smoothly, and rationally, than was the case a decade ago, when Democrats butchered the political landscape with indefensible districts that resulted in the courts stepping in to redraw them.
For now it seems the county’s position will not change, which is unfortunate in that it lessens the likelihood that one of the fastest growing counties in the state will be the center of a congressional district anytime soon. Of course it isn’t impossible that Forsyth could still field a candidate capable of winning in either district, but it’s going to be harder to do so than would have been the case had the lines been drawn differently.
But unless there is a reversal of the process by the Justice Department or the courts, which doesn’t seem nearly as likely as it did the last time the state went through this process, Forsyth is destined to be a county served by two members of Congress rather than one, with neither really dependent upon the local constituency for election.