Map Combines parts of Smyrna, Buckhead into Senate District
Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna, would have to court GOP voters in the Buckhead area to keep his seat if the changes are approved.
Senate Minority Caucus chair Doug Stoner of Smyrna will pick up a lot of new Republican constituents if a draft map of Georgia's state Senate is approved.
Stoner, a Democrat, would see his Smyrna home base joined to a Buckhead state Senate district.
Buckhead voted for Republican Governor Nathan Deal over democratic opponent Roy Barnes in 2010. That indicates GOP strength in the Buckhead neighborhoods that would be drawn into Stoner’s district.
But Democrats say it would be a winnable race and pledge that they would fight hard for their leader.
"I know it is a seat Doug Stoner can win," said Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur).
The draft map is a product of the Georgia Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office. Once every ten years, Georgia state lawmakers must redraw district borders based on new U.S. Census numbers and population shifts. For the first time in decades, Republicans control Georgia's government and the redrawing process.
In the House, the new map would merge Vinings with a district that would run through southern Smyrna and is based on one now held by Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna).
The Golick district recedes from the west side of Smyrna and would pick up part of Mableton. But Golick’s home is still in the new district, meaning he’s not drawn out of his seat.
The boundary between Golick’s district and that of Democrat Rep. Terry Johnson would also shift south, putting more of Smyrna in Johnson's district.
The full Georgia General Assembly is scheduled to start debate on the maps in a special session starting Monday.
The Legislature will also redraw U.S. House districts this summer. Georgia will get a fourteenth U.S. Congress member. Census numbers put that seat somewhere in the heavily-GOP counties just north of metro Atlanta.
That draft map is not expected to be released until next week at the earliest.
In January 2012, the Legislature will take up city, county and board of education districts, as well as the state's utility regulators, the Public Service Commission.
All maps must eventually be approved by the federal government, to make sure they do not disenfranchise minority voters under the federal Voting Rights Act.