By JEFF AMY
JACKSON– Republicans and Democrats continue to fight over moving Adams and Wilkinson counties in southwest Mississippi from the 3rd Congressional District to the 2nd.
That dispute looms large in the latest filings in a federal court case that is likely to produce new lines for Mississippi’s four U.S. House districts.
Attorney General Jim Hood dropped remaining objections to a three-judge panel’s redrawing district lines after the Legislature failed to propose a plan by Dec. 4. By a Monday deadline, no one else objected in court to the judges handling the task, clearing the way for them to act.
The judges must equalize population among the four districts, which will mean shifting a large number of people into the 2nd District, represented by Democrat Bennie Thompson.
New lines are required every 10 years after Census results are released to reflect population shifts. Each of the state’s four congressional districts should have 741,824 people.
After 10 years under the current plan, northeast Mississippi’s 1st District is heavily overpopulated, with 788,095 people or 6.2 percent above ideal, according to court filings. The 2nd District, centered in the Delta and Jackson, had 668,263 people, 9.9 percent below ideal. Central Mississippi’s 3rd District and south Mississippi’s 4th are slightly above the ideal.
Republican U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper and Thompson were unable to agree on a map, which was one reason the Legislature failed to act. Thompson doesn’t want to add Adams and Wilkinson to his district, which is already about 200 miles long. Republicans want to move Adams and Wilkinson from Harper’s district to Thompson’s, making Harper’s district more compact.
A group including state Rep. Kelvin Buck, D-Holly Springs, filed a new suit proposing its own congressional map, supported by Thompson. The new lawsuit appears likely to be consolidated.
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