The Mississippi Legislature, for the first time since the early 1990s, has redrawn the four U.S. districts to match population shifts found by the federal Census.
Gov. Tate Reeves this week signed into law the redistricting bill approved by the Legislature to complete the process. After both the 2000 and 2010 censuses, the Legislature could not agree on a plan to redraw the congressional districts. After lawsuits were filed, the federal judiciary stepped in to draw the districts.
The plan approved earlier this session by the Legislature and signed by Reeves was passed along a party line vote, with most in the minority Democrat Party rejecting the proposal.
District 2 will now run nearly the entire length of the state with Adams, Amite, Franklin and Walthall counties in southwest Mississippi being added to the district. The district now extends from Tunica in northwest Mississippi to the Louisiana-Mississippi border in southwest Mississippi. The only county that borders the Mississippi River not in the district is heavily Republican DeSoto County.
District 2, which is the state’s only Black-majority district, is the only one of the state’s four congressional districts to lose population since 2010 — more than 9% or about 65,000 people.
Based on federal and state law, the districts have to be redrawn to ensure near equal population representation.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat, had proposed that all his home county of Hinds be placed in District 2 to maintain some compactness for the district. Legislative Republicans rejected that proposal, choosing to leave several majority-white neighborhoods in Jackson in District 3, which is a majority-white district.
The plan signed by Reeves is likely to result in maintaining the current partisan breakdown of three Republicans and one Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation.
Some believed that if the Thompson plan had prevailed, District 3 might have been slightly more competitive that it is now. Under the Thompson plan, Black voters would not have been a majority in District 3, but they would have had more influence than under the proposal ultimately signed into law. This reality could set the stage for a potential lawsuit from civil rights groups.
District 3 is currently represented by Republican Michael Guest, who state legislators said opposed moving all of Hinds County into District 2.
Under the plan approved by the Legislature, District 2 will have an African American population of a little more than 61%. Federal law most likely would mandate that Mississippi, the state with the nation’s highest Black population, maintain an African American majority district.