State lawmakers revealed their final redistricting concept map Friday afternoon, indicating where voter boundaries for Tennessee’s nine congressional districts could be drawn for the next 10 years.
Redistricting, which takes place once every decade, uses information taken from the U.S. census population count to determine voter boundaries. The parties with majorities in the General Assembly-this time Republicans in both the House and Senate-get to draw the lines.
The proposals for Tennessee’s 3rd and 4th Districts, the two in closest proximity to Chattanooga, would be reshaped in such a way that current and future representatives would be forced to appeal to new voters in new areas.
The 3rd, held by Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, would retain all of Hamilton County but only a portion of Bradley, which would include the city of Cleveland. Stretching north, the district would be composed of parts of Roane and Campbell counties, along with McMinn, Monroe, Morgan, Union, Scott and Anderson counties, which includes Oak Ridge.
The district would lose Claiborne, Grainger, Rhea and Meigs counties, along with parts of Bradley and Jefferson counties.
Fleischmann, a freshman Republican now laying the groundwork for his first campaign for re-election, said he was pleased with the proposal.
“I have encouraged a fair and open process from the beginning and believe our state legislators have done just that,” Fleischmann said. “They have given Tennesseans the best representation possible. I will continue to work hard to represent those in the current 3rd District and will do exactly the same thing in the new 3rd District.”
Scott DesJarlais, a fellow freshman Republican, could possibly face a challenge in the newly drawn 4th District, which would include Rutherford County. The county is home to state Sen. Bill Ketron, who has expressed interest in challenging DesJarlais for his seat.
Geographically, the proposed 4th varies significantly from its antecedent. Once a sprawling district that spanned between the Alabama and Kentucky borders, the area would now be composed of mainly Southeast and Middle Tennessee counties.
In a statement, DesJarlais said he has not yet had the chance to take in the possible ramifications of the changes.
“I haven’t had an opportunity to study these proposed new lines closely yet, but regardless of the new district boundaries, I’m committed to continuing to be an independent conservative voice for Tennesseans,” he said.
Despite the lack of information, DesJarlais coincidentally went into campaign-mode on Friday, announcing the purchase of his first district-wide radio ad for the upcoming season.
While state lawmakers are expected to vote on proposed state House and Senate maps as early as next week, no timeline has been given on when a vote on the congressional map could take place.