BAYHAM: The Edwards Congressional Map Vetoes, GOP Perfidy, and the Consequences of Losing

During the 2019 runoff for governor, a handful of Republicans who should’ve known better tripped over themselves to embrace the reelection of Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards.

And then there were other Republicans who publicly worked to undermine Eddie Rispone feigning offense to the Baton Rouge businessman’s aggressive tactics against fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate and then-5th District Congressman Ralph Abraham in the primary, even though some of those same Republicans regularly engage in cutthroat practices in advancing their own interests.

And at the end of the day for certain Republicans who derive direct benefit from the incumbent governor or view maintaining the political status quo as good for their particular angle, they breathed a sigh of relief when Risponse lost.

And for some Republican figures, this was the second consecutive gubernatorial election where they cried crocodile tears over a GOP loss.

On Wednesday, whatever fig leaf they clutched to justify their behavior blew away when what happens in Baton Rouge affected Washington. Governor Edwards vetoed both Speaker Clay Schexnayder’s House Bill 1 and Republican Senate Caucus Chairwoman Sharon Hewitt’s Senate Bill 5 that had largely retained Louisiana’s six US Representative district lines as they are.

Not that any of this should come as a surprise and that Republicans weren’t warned about this scenario playing out in 2019 during the gubernatorial election.

Before the confetti was swept off the ballroom floor where Governor Edwards and his allies celebrated their close victory, a significantly reimagined congressional map, which was at no point promoted by Edwards during his attempt to frame himself as a centrist, was released to the public.

But that’s the catch about voting Democrat: it’s not the stuff they run on that should scare you so much as the unspoken agenda they intend enact that’s concealed throughout their campaigns.

The vetoed reapportionment bills made relatively minor adjustments to the lines, mainly to reflect the modest population shifts in the six districts.

All six remain anchored by the major cities in their respective districts, with Shreveport/Bossier together in the Fourth, Monroe and Alexandria continue to share the Fifth (as they have been since 1996 after the obscenely gerrymandered Cleo Fields districts (plural) were thrown out by the courts), Lafayette and Lake Charles anchoring the Third, the majority of Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes comprising the heart of the Sixth, the suburban perimeter of New Orleans forming the First, and Orleans Parish, west Jefferson, and parts of Kenner as the foundation of the majority minority Second District, that winds its way through the river parishes to north Baton Rouge to make the racial population percentages reflect the intention of having a black district.

It should be noted that all six of Louisiana’s US House members hail from the population centers of their districts: Mike Johnson (Bossier City), Clay Higgins (Lafayette), Julia Letlow (Monroe area), Garrett Graves (Baton Rouge), Steve Scalise (Jefferson Parish), and Troy Carter (Orleans Parish).

Furthermore the vetoed plans capture the primary community and economic interests of those areas, from the military bases in the Fourth, to the agricultural businesses of the Fifth, and the urban issues of the Second.

It’s also worth noting that the fragile Louisiana coastline has three voices in Washington.

Especially since the state did not lose nor gain a seat, there were no reasons to drastically redraw the lines.

The alternative plans submitted by Democrats, including ex-Congressman Fields and white Democrats seeking to further ingratiate themselves with their party’s base vote, were the stuff of an active imagination, selective drawing, and brazen partisanship caked in fiery belligerent rhetoric.

In a few plans Lafayette was carved up into three different congressional districts.

That apologists for this disingenuously claimed with a straight face that really gives the largest city in Acadiana three voices in Congress as opposed to one was an insult to the intelligence of the people of Lafayette.

No city nor parish wants to be carved up into multiple districts as it dilutes that community’s vote strength and by extends their voice.

That Lafayette needs to be chopped up three ways to make those plans’ numbers work only underscores their absurdity.

If a district needs to stretch out like the root system of a bald cypress then it’s not a very credible proposal.

Worse yet by the author’s own admission creating a second minority-majority congressional district would in fact dilute black voters strength in the existing Second District and Mrs. Letlow’s severely manipulated district, which shows the true intent of their proponents: not so much to ensure two black members of Congress but rather ensure the election of two Democratic members from Louisiana.

And the prospect of one or both seats going to white Democrats didn’t seem to bother those testifying for the creation of the second minority-majority district, which says a lot about their true intentions.

Another thing to consider is the matter of regression.

What if Louisiana loses a congressional seat after the 2030 census?

For decades Louisiana had eight seats and then in 1992 we dropped down to seven. In 2012 we went to six.

Louisiana isn’t experiencing South Carolina level population growth and as quality of life spirals down in the state’s largest cities (with those same municipal shepherds amazingly reelected in spite of it all), it’s a safe bet that we will once again lose a seat during this 20 year trend.

If Louisiana’s congressional delegation is reduced to 5 members, retaining that second district becomes a near impossibility requiring reapportionment artistry on the scale of Fields’ first district.

Otherwise there will be charges of regression reverberating within the committee room chambers a decade from now.

And don’t think the Left isn’t aware of this and that it’s part of their plan to ensure two Democratic members from Louisiana in perpetuity, the numbers be damned.

Republicans came within a hair of overriding an Edwards veto in their first veto session. This vote has implications far beyond Louisiana.

Anyone, Republican or Democrat, who votes to sustain the veto on the federal maps or conveniently ducks the vote must be linked to Nancy Pelosi’s bid to retain her gavel and every screwball leftist national policy of bad odor.

And considering the current administration’s reckless if not treasonous energy policies, senators and representatives need to be prepared to own it all because that is the political end of all of this.

Elections have consequences, including those not previously considered by folks who don’t read the political box scores.

Legislators and their constituents need to be reminded of this new reality as the centrist Democrat has gone the way of the dodo and those who claim otherwise are wolves in sheep clothing.

The veto session is a choice between Julia Letlow or Nancy Pelosi.

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