Last summer, when Stephanie Herseth (D-SD) won a special election in South Dakota, Republican Tom Davis (R-VA-11), former Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, downplayed the Republican defeat by whining, “If you take out the Indian reservation, we would have won."
Oh, Tom. Those pesky minorities, voting Democratic again. If only you could take them out of those districts you need to win - it would be so much easier for Republicans to gain power and stay in power!
Of course, if you can't "take out" minorities, your next best defense if you're a Republican is keeping them from coming into your district in the first place, and an article in today's Washington Post shows us that Davis is actively engaged in preventing more "urban kind of people" from moving into his own district:
The Republican congressman from Fairfax seems to believe that the only way he can guarantee himself reelection till the end of time is to prevent Democrats from moving into his district.
Davis last week announced his intent to use Congress's authority over the Metro system to force a downsizing of a huge, 2,250-unit condo, townhouse and commercial development planned for 56 acres next to the Vienna Metro station. [...]
One politician who spoke to Davis says the congressman told him straight-out that he opposes Pulte Homes' MetroWest project because "all it does is produce Democrats."
Davis won reelection last year with a solid 60 percent of the vote against a largely unknown opponent, but he saw frightening cracks in his electoral foundation. "He lost Merrifield, the area around the Dunn Loring Metro station, and he's convinced that it turned blue because of development around the station," says Democrat Gerry Connolly, the Fairfax board chairman. [...]
Davis's alternative to density at such suburban Metro stations as Vienna is not more sprawl, but rather a push to repopulate the District. "Culturally, the people who would move into this project in Vienna are urban kind of people. A lot of them are single, and they would be happy living closer in."
Which would put those people where they belong, either in Democratic Washington or in suburbs in Rep. Jim Moran's Democratic district."
"Urban kind of people."
Can't you just see Tom Davis as a shifty real estate agent, skirting laws that prevent him outright refusing to sell real estate to "urban kind of people" by oozing charm and saying, "But, ma'am, wouldn't you be more comfortable staying there in DC among your own urban kind of people rather than moving out here to Vienna, which is so culturally different than what you urban kind of people are used to? If you really want to move to Virginia, maybe I can help you find a condo closer in, where you'd be surrounded by other urban kind of people, say, maybe in Seven Corners or Baileys Crossroads or South Arlington?" All in VA-8, of course.
Interestingly enough, I live in a precinct that used to be in VA-11 until the last Congressional re-districting. My precinct in the Seven Corners area of Falls Church/Fairfax County, which consists primarily of high-density high-rises, rental garden apartments, and garden apartments-turned-condominium, is apparently too full of "urban kind of people" and Democratic voters for Davis's tastes, so he jettisoned us. We're now another very blue precinct in Jim Moran's reliably blue VA-8.
So if Tom Davis isn't successful in preventing "smart growth" around Metro stations in his district, I'm sure we can expect more Republican plans for gerrymandering so that VA-8 includes a narrow band of high-density "smart growth" development following the Orange Line west. (See how VA-8 is gerrymandered now to include a narrow corridor of high-density development from Falls Church City out to Reston.)
Of course, when Davis was chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, he supported "smart growth" around public transit stations. But if "smart growth" interferes with comfortable majorities in his own district, it's a different story. Davis denies this, of course:
Davis says party politics has nothing to do with his power play. "I don't know who's going to move in there," he says, one minute after describing exactly who he expects will live at MetroWest. (Davis himself provided insight into his motives: After John Kerry won Fairfax in November, Davis fretted to The Post's Lisa Rein that "the city is moving out to the suburbs.")
The Post article cites a crowded Orange Line and traffic on I-66 as what Davis says are his reasons for opposing the development at the Vienna Metro. Of course, as a Congressman, it would be far more appropriate for him ask for federal budget dollars to improve Metro service on the Orange Line rather than interfere in local land use issues. Interestingly, though:
The congressman says he still supports denser development at Tysons, "but if you extend smart growth out past Tysons, you're turning the county into a city, which is not what most people want."
Hmmm. He supports denser development at Tysons, even though Tysons has no Metro station and the Route 7 corridor is already gridlocked with traffic every day.
But - oh - wait! Tysons Corner was gerrymandered into Jim Moran's district, so of course Davis supports even more dense development in Tysons! But more development around an existing Metro station in VA-11? Not when that "smart growth" will bring "urban kind of people", smart Democrats who'll vote Davis out of office.
Hat tip to diarist zenbowl over at DailyKos for the lead on the Herseth quote.