Jeffersonville, New Albany and Clarksville have much in common, but the state Senate redistricting map under consideration shows that elected officials only see red and blue.
As proposed, and likely to be approved, District 46 will move to Marion County. The territory, and more importantly the voters, that once comprised the district in Floyd County and Jeffersonville will be split up among District 45 and District 47.
Most notably, the bulk of New Albany will be moved to District 47 except for a small portion of which most of the precincts are Republican dominated. That area will be shifted to District 45 to further add to a Republican stronghold.
This shift separates most of New Albany and Floyd County from Jeffersonville and Clarksville. Obviously this is being done to eliminate having some of the last remaining Democratic bases along the Ohio River located in the same district. District 46 has been controlled by Republicans of late, with Sen. Ron Grooms set to step down next year after serving 12 years in Indianapolis.
But in theory, if a strong Democratic candidate were to emerge, it would be much more difficult of a path if the person couldn’t fall back on New Albany, Jeffersonville and Clarksville for support.
In short, as the map has been drawn, former President Barack Obama probably couldn’t win a race in either the 45th or 47th districts.
But the new districts aren’t poorly devised just because of political partisanship. State Republicans glossed over the regional effect the redistricting will have on Southern Indiana.
Washington County and Harrison County have some fine residents, but frankly, those places have little in common with New Albany. This is an urban area on the footsteps of Louisville. We have needs here that are different than those of more rural areas.
District 47 incumbent Sen. Erin Houchin hails from Salem. District 45 incumbent Chris Garten is from Charlestown. Both Republicans are popular and would have to be viewed as heavy favorites to win re-election next year.
If that happens, neither senator will reside in the largest cities they will represent.
How does this make any sense?
Politics is of course the answer.
It’s also a troubling development for Shawn Carruthers and Kevin Boehnlein. The two Republicans were set to square off in next year’s primary for a chance to replace Grooms. Both are Republican loyalists who have served their communities. Now both find themselves in a position of uncertainty.
We urge senators to consider how redrawing the lines will affect fair representation in Southern Indiana and ask them to change these districts before final approval next month.