A Georgia Republican says it’s time to rethink redistricting

State Rep. Allen Peake, R – Macon. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

State Rep. Allen Peake sounded an exasperated note in a dispatch to his middle Georgia constituents over the weekend, saying it’s time once and for all for Democrats and Republicans to break the legislative logjam.

“Republicans will not get all they want. Democrats will not be happy with all the final details,” wrote the Macon Republican, perhaps best known as the godfather of Georgia’s medical marijuana program. “But it’s time we find the common ground, compromise on the differences and find an answer regarding healthcare and other issues that works in the real world.”

So we called him up to elaborate. The main question: Is it time to revisit the onerous debate over redistricting? After all, some Georgia lawmakers all but admit gerrymandering has kept them in office, even as proposals with limited bipartisan support to overhaul district lines in a nonpartisan fashion languish.

Peake was frank, saying it’s probably “unrealistic” to propose a new way to draw districts, while also acknowledging that the proliferation of safe seats that favor one party or the other inhibits bipartisan work.

“Of the 14 districts in Georgia, maybe one is competitive. They’ve been redistricted to be safe Republicans and safe Democrats,” said Peake. “Imagine how different we would govern if every district was split. We would have this instant polarization go away and we’d look at each other differently, work across party lines more.”

So what’s next? Will he support a proposal to rewrite the process? Peake’s not sure yet, but count him among the converted.

“At the federal level, there’s a greater need to look at the redistricting so the districts aren’t so polarized. That’s what’s causing the gridlock in Congress,” he said. “Is it realistic to think that will ever change? Probably not. But it’s clear that’s what has caused the polarization.”

Update: For a counterpoint, we’ll go to Peake’s GOP colleague, state Rep. Chuck Efstration, who wrote a lengthy piece on Facebook outlining his view:

Writes Efstration:

Exhibit A is the United State Senate. Senators are not subject to partisan gerrymandering, yet the partisan divide in the present-day Senate is as brutal as any other legislative body. By design, Senators are not subject to changing districts and to elections every two years, yet they seemingly continue to dig in their heels and refuse to reach consensus.

 

Modern federal courts are also victims of this polarization. Experienced attorneys are able to predict the best venue for a desired outcome. Only recently, federal trial level judges issued opinions challenging presidential authority with national implications, impacting areas outside of their respective circuits. These judges do not sit in gerrymandered judicial districts or run in elections, yet the partisan perception continues.

Read the entire piece here.

Reader Comments 1

37 comments
Bill Shields
Bill Shields

No compromise. Conservatives lose every time. Repeal repeal repeal

Brenda Addison
Brenda Addison

You can't handle the CURRENT DISTRICTS! ! ! ! Do that FIRST . THEN TALK. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !

HeyJude404
HeyJude404

When Sonny Perdue defeated Roy Barnes, that was the first Republican governor in Georgia in well over 100 years, 131 I think, and one of the first things he and Republican legislators did was to redraw district lines. They went all the way to McRae from Atlanta trying to cover their actions but were found out anyway. The "guys, one of whom is our current Lt. Governor and considered a strong candidate for governor next term, came down one day and the governor flew into the local airport next day. Like it or not, pro or con, but when you do something like that on the sly, you must feel everything is not aboveboard. Why else try to hide your actions?

thinkingconservative
thinkingconservative

Hard to imagine how redistricting by the party in power can be anything but Gerrymandering. The resulting partisanship in federal and state legislatures is crippling our processes. 90 per cent of Americans want something done about failing Infrastructure, but Congress dithers. Rep. Peake is right.

deceketix
deceketix

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Melanie Barrett
Melanie Barrett

Redistricting has nothing to do with the "gridlock in Congress". Said gridlock is caused by lack of term limits enabling elected officials to become entrenched and wealthy.

Nancy Chorpenning
Nancy Chorpenning

Actions speak louder than words. Words are cheap. I could go on...

Kevin Tuttle
Kevin Tuttle

Calls for moderation? From a Georgia Republican? I'm going to need my fainting couch.

Amanda Ruf
Amanda Ruf

Georgia needs Medicaid Expansion. So when national republicans are done making fools of themselves and Trump, we can quietly accept it, repackage it with a pretty name, and hope the republican base doesn't make the connection.

Karen Rakestraw
Karen Rakestraw

Yes and had they accepted it from day one, insurance premiums in Georgia would not be outrageously high.

Ralph Johnson
Ralph Johnson

Gov Deal said no because Obama administration party over people.

Bill Shields
Bill Shields

Medicaid expansion has absolutely nothing to do with premium increases. Medicaid expansion means Georgia taxpayers foot the bill. You really like higher taxes?

Wayne Parker
Wayne Parker

It's time to rethink ballot access for third parties.

Elaine Daprano
Elaine Daprano

Say what? Georgia's third party candidates have never had a problem if they QUALIFY. What do ya want? Taiwan?

Wayne Parker
Wayne Parker

Elaine Daprano only state wide offices have ballot access. State and federal representatives have the highest petition requirements in the USA.

Ted Wetherby
Ted Wetherby

Them democrats are coming for us, redistrict before the next election to secure the super majority in Georgia..

Barry Wilson
Barry Wilson

I guess you right wing nuts have given up on your fake support for democracy now? Redistricting to win sounds like a cowards way out.

Ted Wetherby
Ted Wetherby

Barry Wilson That comment was sarcasm, I am not a republic"CON".. But misunderstandings in comments happen quite often, and I hold no ill feelings for your misunderstanding.

Jonathan Banes
Jonathan Banes

Every state should have a non-partisan redistricting council or another form of governance to oversee the post-Census redrawing of electoral maps of that said state. There are enough software programs and enough dedicated statisticians and political scientists that it can be done so in a non-partisan and nonbiased way. There should be much more competitive seats or districts in Georgia to where any given candidate should be able to win on their and their party's ideas and overall agenda if indeed it resonates with the voters of a given district.

Nolan Teter
Nolan Teter

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and will never happen.

Chris Wright
Chris Wright

i agree 110%. Will it happen? I doubt it. The Supreme Court would magically have to do some kind of rullng and/or US congress . Long shot sadly :/

Terri Parker
Terri Parker

Why should Congress have a special deal? Let them live by the laws they pass for the Nation. That way they are accountable to the people and deals they make.

Stan Pitts
Stan Pitts

As someone who, without absolutely zero input, from Rob Woodall to Hank Johnson, I complete agree.

Karen Rakestraw
Karen Rakestraw

Yes a federal exchange would allow participants to be eligible for federal offset programs.

Keo Blaise
Keo Blaise

Karen Rakestraw Our Us Congressmen get a 72% subsidy on 175k a year. But I would love for our state to set up an exchange

Cobbian
Cobbian

Greatly appreciate Rep. Peake's honesty and willingness to simply tell the truth.  Gerrymandering has made a mess of the political process, creating dictatorial rule by one party instead of representative governance for all citizens.


I hope Rep. Peake becomes a spokesperson and leader among Republicans in promoting the need for redistricting in Georgia.  Perhaps Gov. Deal could also lead in promoting the same need around the nation by working with other governors.  


Gonna be hard to do, though, because it requires a willingness to recognize and accept that giving up some power and control is actually better for the nation.  

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