Dear Virginia Republicans: When you shoot at a king, you must kill him. And when you opt to attempt a colossally arrogant and slimy stunt, you’d better make sure in advance that it will work.
Yesterday, on a public holiday, while a member of the Democratic caucus of the Virginia Senate (currently split 20-20) was attending the inauguration in DC, the Republican caucus decided to launch a dirty trick (h/t to Lowkell at Blue Virginia):
You don’t get more slimy, sneaky, underhanded, etc. than this (great work by Ben Tribbett alerting us to what was going on in the following series of Facebook updates):
“Wow- Republicans in the Virginia Senate are now trying to redraw the maps and draw at least one Democratic Senator out of the Senate. Happening right now on the floor.”
“COUP GOING ON IN VIRGINIA SENATE: Republicans have just brought all new Senate districts to the floor with Henry Marsh gone in DC, now 30 minutes of debate before they send them to the House of Delegates.”
“COUP SUCCESSFUL- NEW DISTRICTS HEADED TO VIRGINIA HOUSE. AT LEAST ONE DEMOCRATIC SENATOR TO BE OUSTED.”
“The Republican redistricting bill creates a 6th majority-minority seat.”
After Ben’s first Facebook notice, I went to the live feed of the Virginia State Senate and watched as Sen. Saslaw, Sen. McEachin (“This is sneaky, this is underhanded, and it’s beneath the dignity of the Senate“), Sen. Marsden and Sen. Barker went ape**** on the Republicans for what they said was a totally underhanded, unconstitutional move that will utterly poison relations in the Virginia State Senate. The fact that Republicans pulled this underhanded maneuver while most people were focused on the inauguration and Democratic State Senator Marsh was out of town (for the inauguration) really says it all. Wow.
Once it passes the GOP-controlled House of Delegates, and assuming it gets signed by the Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, the Republicans’ attempt at gerrymandering would give them a potential 27-13 supermajority in the Senate — that’s how extreme it is. And normally, you’d expect somebody as partisan in his Republicanness as Virginia’s governor to welcome the bill with open arms. But so far, that’s not been happening — in fact, the governor and his staff seem to have been caught off-guard by this: