- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2011

The battle lines are drawn as Democrats and Republicans begin anew the decennial game called reapportionment.

Many Americans don’t know it, but the District of Columbia, while not a state, goes through the redistricting process as if it were — but with ward boundaries rather than congressional district lines.

The question is whether D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, a Democrat, will play his colorblind “One City” trump card or play his hand similar to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, and use the race card?

Like their counterparts in the 50 states, D.C. politicians are positioning themselves for 2012 and beyond. But unlike their state counterparts, theres no bipartisan bickering because D.C. voter rolls have been overwhelming Democratic since the 1960s, and independents have a better than 2-1 edge over Republicans (75,062 versus 30,365 at last count.)

Sure, theres the class-warfare argument that the haves should pay higher fees and taxes to benefit the have-nots. But even up- and-coming Republicans such as Mr. Sandoval see no shamein race-based politics when it comes to redistricting.

“This plan ensures partisan opportunity rather than fair representation of all Nevadans,” Mr. Sandoval said Saturday in announcing his veto of the Democrat-controlled state legislatures reapportionment proposal. “Partisan gerrymandering is not legal, equitable or acceptable.”

He also said: “In the last 10 years, the Hispanic community in our state has grown significantly. The law and common sense requires that we recognize this fact and afford Hispanics an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choosing.”

In the nations capital, like in Nevada, the real battle line is the color of one’s skin.

If city hall holds true to its post-home-rule leanings, the District’s redistricting plan will boil down to a patently pretentious game that already has dealt Ward 7 the best hand.

Ward 7 has more cards than the other seven wards because it is the home base to the city’s most powerful Democrats — the mayor and D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown — and council member Yvette Alexander, who is up for re-election in 2012.

Redistricting is a constitutionally mandated process tilted toward equal distribution of people, just not so much anymore.

These days, Republicans and Democrats alike are coloring outside the lines.

In the District, most of the citys 601,723 residents are trending wealthier and of lighter skin color while its progressive politics remain unchanged.

When the time comes for the redrawn map to face yeas or nays in city hall, don’t anticipate much of an impact on neighborhoods.

To be sure, there will be realignments that could lead to lawsuits and noisy activists when some residents are moved to a different ward or voting precinct, as happened a decade ago.

But like Mr. Sandoval, Nevadas first Hispanic governor, D.C. polls are planning to wear down the point on the brown crayon.

After all, they may profess to represent “One City” that is blind to race, but they are beholden to predominately black Wards 5, 7 and 8, and ethnically diverse Wards 1 and 4 for political sustenance.

Their end game is not the democratic process but to deliver the city to the Democratic Party in 2012 and keep it for themselves in 2014.

*Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]



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