Former President Barack Obama will be an integral part of Democrats’ plans to launch a full-scale war over redistricting, former Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.
“It’s coming. He’s coming,” Holder said. “And he’s ready to roll.”
Holder said Obama “will be a more visible part of the effort.”
Obama selected Holder to lead the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.
The group’s purpose is to fight back against redistricting efforts that Democrats believe are contrary to the best interests of the party.
“Where (Obama) will be most politically engaged will be at the state legislative level, with an eye on redistricting after 2020,” former White House political director David Simas said last fall.
Because Republicans are dominant in many state legislatures, they have the ability to shape the geography of the districts for members of Congress as well as for state legislatures. This has led to claims by Democrats that the district lines are not fair.
“We heard a lot in this past election about rigged systems,” Holder said last month. “But I want to say the biggest rigged system in America is gerrymandering.”
The NDRC was formed to fight decisions in court, where necessary, support non-partisan commissions to draw boundary lines, and begin the process of winning key races that could affect control of state legislatures.
“We’re developing a comprehensive, unified plan that represents tactically the way we increase Democratic power in the next redistricting that’s state-specific,” said Mark Schauer, a former Michigan congressman who is advising the group. “ … (W)e’ll speak with one voice under the auspices of the NDRC to big donors around the country, pointing them to the best ways to impact redistricting.”
Marc Elias, an election lawyer, said the group is looking for new places to file suits to challenge existing district lines.
Redistricting takes place after each census, meaning that the next major efforts to redraw district lines will be taking place in 2021, after the 2020 Census.
Holder said that the recent Justice Department decision to end its challenge to a Texas voter ID law was “disheartening,” but that although “it would be good to have the Justice Department on our side … it doesn’t mean that the argument can’t be made, and can’t be made well.”
“This is really a battle for our democracy,” Holder said. “The notion that people are denied their ability to cast a meaningful vote … is inconsistent with who we say we are, inconsistent with what we say our democracy is about.”
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