The Cracked Pipeline: How Redistricting Targeted Women Lawmakers in Statehouses Around the Country
A closer examination shows that it’s not just Democratic women officeholders who have taken it on the chin, being drawn into districts with either more voters from the opposite party or another incumbent — or both. The redistricting process in several states could set women of both parties back, including many women in leadership positions.
In North Carolina, where Republicans controlled the redistricting process and women lawmakers have been particularly hard-hit, those dealt a tough blow by redistricting include state Sen. Linda Garrou, the deputy Democratic leader, and Rep. Martha Alexander, who has served for nearly 20 years and is a former co-chair of the redistricting committee. In all, 10 of 25 Democratic women lawmakers in the state were either ‘double bunked’ — forced into a district with another incumbent — or drawn into heavily Republican districts.
Republican women in leadership have been targeted, too. Take Colorado, for example, which has the highest percentage (40) of female lawmakers in the county and where Democrats essentially controlled the redistricting process via a special commission. ‘Three of the nine Republican women in the House will have to run in a primary with another GOP incumbent. Two of them, House Majority Leader Amy Stephens and Rep. B.J. Nikkel, the majority whip, are in leadership,’ according to the Denver Post. Party primaries for legislative seats in Colorado are scheduled for June 26.
House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams of Atlanta blasted the maps as a vehicle for targeting white Democrats and women legislators, dismissing Republicans’ responses that they were forced to by federal law.
‘Using the Voting Rights Act as a reason is like Geraldine on the old ‘Flip Wilson Show’ saying ‘the Devil made me do it,” she quipped.
Abrams said 45 percent of white Democrats and about that many women would be out of the legislature under the new maps.