New Map Threatens Nashville’s Power in Congress


Danni Chacon, Contributor

Image by “Kelly L” via Pexels

Recently, Tennessee Republicans redrew a map to eliminate a Democratic seat in Nashville. On January 24, Senate Bill 781 sponsored by State Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, was passed by the House of Representatives. The bill serves to amend the Tennessee congressional map and split Davidson County in three, flipping the district’s leaning towards Republicans in the Fifth Congressional District. 

Although redistricting occurs every ten years, this lengthy process has been an effective tool to further political advantage through the presentation of district boundary plans that give them a leg up in future elections. Colloquially, the practice is known as gerrymandering. 

The redistricting plan turns a heavily Democratic county into a Republican-majority district that will blend in with the rest of the state of Tennessee. While Nashville is composed of 27.58% African American individuals, the electoral power of these voters will be relatively diluted. 

Counties including Lewis, Maury, and Marshall (as well as parts of Davidson, Williamson, and Wilson) could all potentially be affected by the Republican plan. Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional District is currently represented by Jim Cooper. After the House’s vote, Rep. Cooper expressed his frustration. He told MSNBC,  “Republicans are basically cheating. They haven’t been able to elect a Democrat in Nashville for 100 years. This isn’t about me, so now they’re getting rid of Nashville politically. They’re colonizing Nashville.”

On the 40th legislative day, on the House floor session, a discussion took place among Republicans and Democrats about Senate Bill 781. In particular, Rep. Harold M. Love, Jr.,  D-Nashville, spoke about democracy and how representatives should demonstrate the interest of the constituents in Davidson County. As their discussion continued, Rep. Harlem stated that it is important to have a congressman that represents both urban and rural areas who can relate to both sides. 

As a result of Senate Bill 781 being signed by current Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, approximately three congressional seats are open, the political power of Democrats is divided, and the identity of Nashville is in jeopardy.