On Tuesday, Rep. Demetrius Newton and Rep. Patricia Todd fought side by side in committee to restore Jefferson County’s occupational tax, but a redistricting plan to be considered by the Alabama Legislature next week could pit the two Birmingham Democrats against each other.
In the plan both Jefferson and Montgomery counties will lose a district representative each. Todd and Newton would be drawn into the same district representing central Jefferson County, mostly a swath of Birmingham. In Montgomery, Rep. Joe Hubbard and Rep. John Knight would be in the same district.
After each United States census, redrawing district lines has been a spoil of war for legislative majorities. This redistricting is the first since for the new Republican legislative majority.
“It’s ugly,” Todd said of her proposed new district. She said, with the loss of population in Birmingham, “we knew somebody was going to lose.” But, Todd said, “I’m happy with my district.”
Todd said she would run on her record “against anybody that wants to run.” In 2006, she won the Democratic primary in the predominantly black district against a black candidate.
Meanwhile, Jefferson and Montgomery counties’ loss would be Madison and Shelby counties’ gain. Each of those counties would pick up one new seat in the legislature under the plan.
Newton told the Mobile Press-Register that the redistricting plan doesn’t make sense and is not fair to Jefferson County.
“To move a district that’s wholly within Jefferson County to Madison County makes no sense at all,” Newton said, adding that he doubts the constitutionality of such an approach. “I think it’s a bad move, and I think we’ll probably end up in court.”
House Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford predicted a court battle ahead for the redistricting plan.
“We’re gonna challenge the plan. I think we’ll win in the courts,” he told the Advertiser.