Tenn. Democrats update Congressional map proposal

Changes reduce county splits, create opportunity district for minority voters in Middle Tennessee

NASHVILLE — Democrats announced today several changes to their proposed statewide map for Tennessee’s nine seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The updated plan reduces the number of split counties to eight, makes district populations more equal and creates an opportunity district in Middle Tennessee for voters who belong to a minority group.

An Opportunity District — also called an Influence District — is a district where non-white voters or a coalition of minority groups represent less than 50 percent of the voting age population, but more than 35 percent.

Under this map, members of minority groups make up 42 percent of the voting-age population in the 5th Congressional District, which includes all of Nashville, La Vergne and parts of Smyrna.

The updated Democratic map also reduces the number of county splits from nine in their previous proposal to eight. The counties are: Bedford, Blount, Hardin, Roane, Rutherford, Shelby, Sumner and Union. Under this update, no county is split more than once.

Overall, these district lines closely follow Tennessee’s Grand Divisions.

East Tennessee:

Congressional District 1 groups together counties that have historically been referred to as Upper East Tennessee.

District 2 includes pairs Knox County with Anderson County and Oak Ridge, Sevier County and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the cities of Maryville and Alcoa.

District 3 contains counties in the southeastern portion of the state, from the Appalachian Mountains in Blount County to the city of Chattanooga.

Middle Tennessee:

Congressional District 4 groups together the large, fast-growing suburban communities of Williamson County, Wilson County, most of Rutherford County and, in Sumner County, the cities of Hendersonville, Goodlettsville and Millersville.

District 5, which becomes an opportunity district for voters who belong to a minority group, consists of Nashville, La Vergne and parts of Smyrna.

District 6 brings together many of the rural counties of the Cumberland Plateau, along with several communities outside of Nashville as well as the Roane County cities of Oak Ridge and Harriman.

District 7 consists of Clarksville and many of the rural communities east of the Tennessee River.

West Tennessee:

Congressional District 8 combines every rural county in West Tennessee along with parts of Shelby County.

District 9, which is a majority minority district, groups together the cities of Memphis and Bartlett in Shelby.

Republicans, who hold a supermajority of seats in the state legislature, are expected to release their congressional proposal this week.

Democrats revised their previous Congressional proposal after considering public feedback.

This fall, Democrats held five public meetings across the state this fall to discuss how districts lines could better reflect communities with shared interests.

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