Marc Elias Redistricting Map Picked by Virginia Court Could Flip Control to Dems

Elias's map picked from handful of proposals

Marc Elias with John Podesta / Getty Images
January 26, 2019

Virginia judges picked a redistricting map this week supported by Democratic super lawyer Marc Elias that favors his party and could cost Republicans control of the House of Delegates in the state this year.

Elias, a partner at the Washington, D.C., office of the Perkins Coie law firm who recently signed on to act as the top lawyer for Kamala Harris's presidential campaign, in 2015 brought a redistricting lawsuit on behalf of a group of African Americans. Judges would rule that lawmakers had pushed them into 11 districts.

A series of redistricting proposals were submitted, and Elias's was ultimately selected by Virginia's Eastern District Court.

"In Virginia, the Federal Court in the long-running state house redistricting case has ordered the special master to adopt the alternative-map configuration we advocated," Elias said. "We are one important step closer to the end of the GOP's racial gerrymander."

Republicans currently hold a 51 to 48 advantage over Democrats in the state's House of Delegates and all 100 seats are up for election this year. The map could flip five to six districts currently held by Republicans, the Martinsville Bulletin notes.

Republican House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox's district would see one of the biggest shifts under Elias's map. The new district would equate to a 32-percentage point swing toward Democrats, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Cox won his last election by 27 percentage points. 

"The Eastern District Court selected a series of legally indefensible redistricting modules that attempts to give Democrats an advantage at every turn," Cox said of the map. "The modules selected by the Court target senior Republicans, myself included, without a substantive basis in the law. In fact, in many cases the rationale given by the special master for the modules selected by the Court contradict the Court’s own opinion."

"The Supreme Court will hear our appeal on its merits early this year," Cox continued. "We are confident that the Supreme Court will not allow the remedial map the court appears to be on its way to adopting to stand. We will continue to fight for the 2011 redistricting plan that was passed by the General Assembly with bipartisan support, including Governor Ralph Northam, signed into law, and approved by President Barack Obama's Department of Justice."

Elias did not return a request for comment on the accusations that the map targets senior Republicans in the state.

This is not the first time Elias has targeted Virginia in recent years.

Leading up to the 2016 elections, Elias filed lawsuits in a number of states, including Virginia, targeting voter identification laws as he was acting as Hillary Clinton's top campaign lawyer, although he filed the suits in his personal capacity as a partner at Perkins Coie.

Those lawsuits were funded by millions from liberal billionaire George Soros and the Virginia challenge was ultimately dismissed.