A federal three-judge panel selected a new congressional map for the 2016 elections Thursday.
The map is one of two proposed maps that a court-appointed special master — in this case a political science professor at University of California, Irvine — released in November 2015 that would give Democrats a shot at picking up another seat. Currently, Democrats hold three of the state’s 11 congressional seats. The new map would increase the black voting age population in the 4th District, currently held by GOP Rep. J. Randy Forbes. Several Democrats have already expressed interest in running for his seat.
But the 1st and the 7th districts would also change. First District GOP Rep. Rob Wittman has announced he’ll run for governor in 2017. Rep. Dave Brat, who holds the 7th District seat, attracted a Republican primary challenger late last year.
Compare the changes in lines between the current map and the new one in the graphic below.
The federal court twice ruled that Virginia’s GOP-controlled legislature violated the Constitution by packing Rep. Robert C. Scott’s 3rd District with blacks, thereby diluting their electoral influence in other parts of the state.
Although the court has now imposed this new map, there’s still a chance the lines could change again or revert to the current map later this year. That’s because the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the lower court’s ruling from the state’s Republican congressional delegation.
“We find that the balance of inequities requires our immediate imposition of a remedial redistricting plan,” the court wrote in its Thursday order.
The filing deadline for the state’s primary is March 31.
Correction Jan. 8, 9:30 a.m. An earlier version of this post misstated when Wittman intends to leave Congress.