HERE’S THE THING…
The Tennessee legislature’s splintering of Nashville is just one example of the gerrymandering taking place across the US
On Tuesday afternoon, Jim Cooper, a moderate Democrat who has been in Congress for more than three decades, announced he was retiring. The timing was not a coincidence.
Less than 24 hours earlier, the Tennessee legislature had approved a mapwith new boundaries for the state’s eight congressional districts. Since 2003, Cooper has represented a district that includes all of Nashville, and it has been reliably Democratic (Joe Biden carried it by 24 points in 2020). But the legislature’s new plan erased his district. Republicans sliced up Nashville into three different districts, attaching a sliver of Democratic voters in each to rural and deeply Republican areas. Donald Trump would have easily won all three of the new districts in 2020.
Republican lawmakers in Tennessee gave final approval on Monday to an aggressive plan to split Nashville, a Democratic bastion, in a deeply Republican state, into several congressional districts as part of an effort to tilt the state’s congressional map in their favor. The plan is now waiting for approval from Governor Bill Lee, who is likely to sign it.
Nashville currently sits in the state’s fifth congressional district, represented by Jim Cooper, a Democrat who has held the seat for nearly 20 years. It’s a solid Democratic district – Joe Biden carried it by nearly 24 points in 2020 – but on Tuesday, Cooper announced he was retiringfrom Congress.
“Despite my strength at the polls, I could not stop the general assembly from dismembering Nashville. No one tried harder to keep our city whole,” he said in a statement. “I explored every possible way, including lawsuits, to stop the gerrymandering and to win one of the three new congressional districts that now divide Nashville. There’s no way, at least for me in this election cycle, but there may be a path for other worthy candidates.”