Virginia Republicans propose their own redistricting map

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia House Republicans filed a redistricting proposal Tuesday they said would fix districts a federal court found were unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

GOP Del. Rob Bell introduced the remedial map, which House Republicans said in a statement was politically neutral and "race-blind." They said it alters 30 House districts, including the 11 that the court ruled in June must be redrawn because lawmakers had illegally packed in black voters to make surrounding districts whiter and more Republican.

The move comes about three weeks after Democrats proposed their own map, which Republicans called a partisan power grab with no chance of passage.

The fight could eventually affect control of the House, which next holds elections in 2019. Republicans currently hold a narrow 51-49 majority after Democrats picked up 15 seats last year.

Republicans maintain that the current map, adopted in 2011 with bipartisan support, is constitutional and are appealing the court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

GOP House Speaker Kirk Cox said in a statement Tuesday that effort would continue. But he also said Republicans would engage with their Democratic colleagues on "this map or a different one" to achieve a remedial plan that could draw bipartisan support.

"If Democrats are serious, they'll come to the table and engage in good-faith discussions. If they don't, then it will be clear that they are only interested in a self-serving map to bolster their political standing, whether it's obtained through the legislative or judicial process," Cox said.

House Democrats issued a statement saying they would continue to analyze the Republican map but that it "does not solve the constitutional infirmities" the court found.

"As per usual, it would appear this is just more empty rhetoric from the House Republicans as they continue to attempt to delay implementation of new maps that remedy their racial gerrymander," House Democratic Caucus Executive Director Trevor Southerland said in a statement.

A House committee is scheduled to work on redistricting Sept. 27. The court gave lawmakers an Oct. 30 deadline to redraw the map.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and his team will analyze the Republicans' effort, spokeswoman Ofirah Yheskel said.