Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hispanic District in NWA? "Not Gonna Happen" says Martin

Gavin Lesnick photo of Secretary of State Mark Martin looking at fellow board of apportionment member Gov. Mike Beebe.

Legislative Redistricting News: Various officials from the Republican Party of Arkansas have floated a number of trial balloons about having a Hispanic-majority legislative district in NWA. Any such district, contrary to any maps you might have seen, would have to carve out a chunk of east Springdale, snake through Lowell along some highway or ROW, and end with a large portion of east Rogers. Classic racial gerrymandering.

The folks floating these trial balloons forgot to clear it with the one Republican whose opinion on this matters most: Secretary of State Mark Martin. He is one of three votes on the state apportionment board which determines where the lines are drawn. I spoke with Martin briefly on the phone today.

Martin is confident that the minority-majority district "is not gonna happen." For one thing, he plans to vote against it. There are a lot of moving parts into what might motivate at least one of the other two to vote against it, but the bottom line is that he feels confident that this idea is going nowhere.

Martin did not comment on the idea that he was under pressure from his own party to vote yes. A "yes" vote from the NWA Republican could give Beebe or McDaniel cover to make their vote yes.

Martin is uncomfortable in principle with the idea of making race the predominant factor in drawing district lines, and even more so in this instance. He said, "There is no compelling legal reason to do this. I know who elected me, who my supporters are, and I know that they would not want me to vote for something like this."

What? Is this guy from the 1950s or something? Voting on a hot button issue that you are bound to catch heat from the liberal media for, in the face of pressure from your own party leadership, just because that's what the people who support you want? Outrageously refreshing!


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