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Chris Graham: Switch in district lines could aid Dems

The conventional wisdom to the proposed legislative redistricting that would move Waynesboro into the 20th House District along with Staunton is that Republican Del. Dickie Bell gets Waynesboro in his district.

I’m usually not big on conventional wisdom, and I’m certainly not in this case.

I’ve written columns over the past couple of years about how the only hope local Democrats have in getting one of their own representing a Valley district in Richmond is to get two cities into a single legislative district. The best chance for that happening, I’ve been saying, was obviously getting Staunton and Waynesboro, eight miles apart at their closest points, into the same district, the two cities’ populations making up about 60 percent of the district, connected by a sliver of Augusta County.

I would not have envisioned what we’ve seen in the proposal – that the district would also stretch into Nelson County, which has had a strong Democratic presence over the years.

So you’d have Staunton, which tilts Democratic, Waynesboro, which still leans Republican, but has been Democratizing more and more in recent years, and Nelson. Of course the Augusta precincts along the spine are going to go heavily Republican, but I can envision Democrats being competitive in this district, at the least.

Doing so in 2011 might be tough given the time constraints. Bell has the competitive advantage this year. But the district lines are good through 2021. That’s plenty of time for the Dems to find a good homegrown business-thinking moderate who could do us good in the General Assembly.

Not that I have anybody in mind there when I write that …

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