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2002-2004, South Carolina Statehouse Report. Published weekly during the S.C. legislative session. South Carolina Statehouse Report is a media project of The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.

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1.12: Redistricting: a 2-year, 3-act play climaxes
(Week of March 26, 2002)

MARCH 22, 2002 - - The recent every-decade process of reapportioning South Carolina's S.C. House, S.C. Senate and U.S. House districts has been a three-act play:

ACT ONE: The Republican House and Senate draw new maps, which are rejected by the Democratic governor. The highly partisan wrangling then sends the whole ball of wax to the federal courts to decide.

ACT TWO: The court considers arguments by the governor and legislators, but issues maps that look similar to current 1992 lines - sending a clear message that it doesn't want to be put in the position of brokering partisan battles of one-upsmanship.

ACT THREE: Lawmakers scramble to make sense of the remapping, but Democrats and Republicans generally rejoice and claim victory.

Seriously, most people around the Statehouse this week said the court must have done a pretty good job in drawing new lines because both sides claimed victory. (To read the court's 113-page Wednesday order with lots of details, go to: .

Here's a quick overview of what the courts did this week:

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS: In the current districts, Rep. James Clyburn's Sixth District is an amoeba that stretches from Columbia to Beaufort and Charleston to Florence. It covers all or parts of 16 counties.

Under the new plan, the court compressed the Sixth District into 13 counties. That allowed some counties to have only one congressman: Beaufort (2nd District), Darlington (5th District) and Colleton (6th District). The First District lost the western part of Georgetown and part of Moncks Corner, but picked up some of downtown Charleston. The Third, Fourth and Fifth District look virtually the same. The Fifth District did, however, for the first time pick up a small chunk of Florence County. As one observer noted, the districts are about the same, but the court cleaned up a lot of little problems and kept communities together.

SC SENATE DISTRICTS: Senate districts are remarkably similar to the plan approved last year by the state Senate. The court did, however, decide to maintain the majority of the Lexington district held by Democratic Sen. Nikki Setzler. Now Congressman Joe Wilson had proposed a plan to change Setzler's seat to become drastically different (i.e., more Republican).

SC HOUSE SEATS. With 124 seats to redraw, the potential for sweeping change was far greater, but the court appeared to base its new map on the 1992 version, with several exceptions. Here are highlights:

  • The court increased the number of black majority House seats from 25 to 29 - - a move that made the Legislative Black Caucus happy. The redrawing, however, made changes so that the remaining 96 districts didn't necessarily become "whiter," sources said. The court, instead, put people in districts that made sense based on their geography, they said.

  • Sumter and Charleston lost one House seat each. In Sumter County, Republican Reps. Jeff Young and Murrell Smith were consolidated into one district; in Charleston, Democratic Reps. Mickey Whatley and Seth Whipper are now in one district.

  • The court brought geographic communities back together in several places. Edisto Beach, for example, will vote with Edisto Island. St. Helena Island in Beaufort County is part of the same district, not split between two. Colleton County is represented by three House members, not five in the 1992 map. The court's plan also did not split Hartsville, Laurens and part of Union County, as in proposals before it.

WHAT'S NEXT. Over the next few months, Statehouse Report will take a more in-depth look at various new districts to highlight how changed lines may affect the make-up of next year's House of Representatives. Not surprisingly, Republicans say they'll pick up a half dozen seats. Democrats? They say they'll pick up more. We'll know in November.

11/3: Use your vote wisely: a lesson
10/27: SC GOP to keep control of House
10/20: Black voters may be secret weapon
10/13: Talk is cheap; action takes courage
10/6: Creating sunshine to dampen negative ads
9/29: SC Set to be world leader in news research
9/22: SC Senate shift could be around corner
9/15: Gov's race about barbs, ads, not people
9/8: Shorfall may cause look at prison alternatives
9/2: Revitalize your patriotism by participating
8/25: S.C.'s fiscal situation could be a lot worse
8/18: State wetlands policy needed
8/11: The bully vs. the whiner
8/4: Noah's Ark approach to tax reform
7/28: Two-party system could be political outcome
7/21: State budget woes loom for 2 more years
7/14: Agencies can do better job on Internet
7/5: Thank a guardsman today for service
6/28: Hodges-Sanford race will be wild ride
6/21: Sanford-Peeler race's impact on GOP
6/14: Ethics reform needed now

More done than you'd think(1.23)
More education $ also means cuts (1.22)
PSC reform to come, but when?(1.21)



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