South Carolina’s legislators for the next 10 years will be settled, in many respects, this year as lawmakers redraw lines for S.C. House, S.C. Senate and congressional districts.
Through redistricting required every 10 years, Republicans have used the process since the 1990s to draw districts that boosted the number of GOP members into increasingly larger majorities in each chamber. In 2021, Democrats will start with 43 of 124 House seats (one less than 2020) and three fewer in the Senate (16 of 46).
“I am confident that the process will remain as fair, open and honest as it has been the past three times,” said House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington. “Last time, our plan received preclearance from the Obama-era Justice Department, a sure signal that South Carolina’s redistricting efforts were fair. I have no reason to believe they would be anything but that this time as well.”
Some Democrats aren’t as hopeful.
“Democrats must first commit to sticking together and not allow Republicans to divide and conquer as they have in past redistricting efforts by picking us off and packing districts to their advantage,” said veteran House legislator Gilda Cobb Hunter, D-Orangeburg. “I have again prefiled legislation requiring an independent commission to draw lines, but I am not hopeful of its chances for passage.
“The [redistricting] plan will be made fairer by a unified Democratic caucus and an active and engaged conversation from voters insisting that legislators draw fair maps. I’m convinced that holding the line is not a position that’s in the best interest of good governance for our state.”
Rep. Wendy Brawley, D-Richland, said she hoped Democratic legislators didn’t “just settle” for lines drawn by Republicans.
“That means we Democrats must get voters involved in the process to ensure the most fair process possible,” she said. “For me, just holding the line is not acceptable. We should be prepared to pursue all legal avenues to ensure lines are fairly and equitably drawn.”
Andy Brack is editor and publisher of Statehouse Report and publisher of the Charleston City Paper. Rodney Welch is a freelance writer from Elgin.