WASHINGTON -- Senator Scott Brown is throwing himself into the redistricting fight in Massachusetts, urging the creation of a voting district in Boston that could help a non-white candidate be elected to Congress.
Brown, a Republican, wrote today to state Senator Stanley Rosenberg and Representative Mike Moran, the co-chairs of the legislature’s Special Committee on Redistricting, in support of a Suffolk County Congressional district that is majority non-white, which are known as majority-minority districts.
“It is my hope that any redistricting for congressional or state legislative seats will result in districts that avoid diluting the voting strength of citizens based on the color of their skin,” he wrote.
Ten years ago, the Massachusetts House created a redistricting plan that federal courts found diluted minority voting power in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
Enacted in 1965 as a remedy to discriminatory voting districts that locked out minority voters, the act requires state line-drawers to create districts whenever possible that consolidate minority voters and make it possible for them to elect a candidate they choose. It also forbids districts that dilute that voting power.
The 2010 US Census found that Massachusetts didn't grow as quickly as it did elsewhere in the country since 2000, so the Bay States will lose one congressional seat as a result. The redistricting underway has set off a speculation over which existing district will disappear, as well as fierce lobbying over where the new lines will fall.
Redrawing lines to create a majority-minority district in Suffolk County would mean that two Boston-area congressmen would have to vie for the single seat. There’s been considerable speculation that the eliminated district would be in western Massachusetts, which would force Richard E. Neal of Springfield and John Olver of Amherst into an election fight.
Brown's move also aligns him with groups that have mounted a campaign to create such a majority-minority seat. The Massachusetts Black Empowerment Coalition for Redistricting, for example, as been strongly urging the legislature to create such a district.
“I want to add my voice to theirs,” Brown said in the letter.
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About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.