McDonnell, senate leaders disappointed over surprise redistricting vote

Posted at 2:51 PM, Jan 22, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - On a day when one seat was left vacant in the Virginia State Senate, Republicans passed an amendment to change voting district lines. Now Senate Democrats are vowing to fight the changes in court.

On Monday, Republicans called for a vote on the amendment while Sen. Henry Marsh (D - Richmond) was out of town attending the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. The state Senate is split equally, 20 seats for each party. The amendment passed by one vote.

"I was outraged and I was saddened yesterday afternoon to learn that the Senate Republicans had used my absence to force through radical changes to all 40 Senate districts," Sen. Marsh said in a statement. "I wanted to attend the historic second inauguration of President Obama in person. For Senate Republicans to use my absence to push through a partisan redistricting plan that hurts voters across the state is shameful."

Marsh said he believed the redistricted lines were unconstitutional.

Republicans said they were trying to create another minority-majority district to satisfy 1965 Voting Rights Act. But Democrats argue the GOP actually created more Republican-dominant districts.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican, said he was surprised and disappointed by the move.

"I certainly don't think that's a good way to do business," the governor told the Richmond Times-Dispatch at a Tuesday morning breakfast meeting. "This is not an issue that I advocated and I was surprised about the vote yesterday."

[Click hereand hereto hear Governor McDonnell's reaction to the vote]

Virginia's U.S. Senator, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats echoed the governor's concern.