Haley Barbour and NAACP at odds over redistricting
March 18th, 2011
06:22 PM ET
11 years ago

Haley Barbour and NAACP at odds over redistricting

(CNN) – Gov. Haley Barbour and the state's branch of the NAACP are at odds over how Mississippi's state legislative districts should be redrawn.

The state's two legislative chambers-the House, controlled by Democrats, and the Senate, which has Republican majority–are engaged in a political tug-of-war over how the new state House districts should be drawn.

Traditionally, each house of the Mississippi legislature presents its own redistricting plan, and the other chamber approves.

The controversy centers around the proposal drawn by state House Democrats. Members of the Republican Senate as well as the Republican Governor (Barbour) are opposed to the House's plan.

"The House plan fairly represents the racial makeup of the state of Mississippi," Derrick Johnson, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, told CNN in an interview. He called Barbour's position "offensive."

Barbour, who only has weighed in a few times over the controversy, said the House proposal would leave many residents without fair representation.

"The House plan would pack nearly 30,000 more Mississippians in 35 existing districts currently held by Republicans than mathematically should be included in those districts," Barbour said in a letter to Senate Republicans this week. He added that the proposal would ignore population growths in several counties.

On Thursday the state Senate voted to send the issue to a conference committee, but the House Speaker has said he will not appoint members to that panel, effectively stalling the proposal, according to the Clarion-Ledger newspaper.

The NAACP has filed a federal lawsuit naming Barbour and several other state officials as defendants.

The civil rights group is asking a U.S. District Court Judge to prevent the current districts from being used in this year's elections because it claims they are "unconstitutionally malapportioned and violate rights" guaranteed by the 14th amendment, the equal protections clause of the Constitution.

The suit also asks for the court to appoint a special three-judge panel to come up with its own plan that "does not dilute black voting strength" if there is no agreement in the legislature before it adjourns in two weeks

A spokeswoman for Barbour had no comment regarding the suit.

"The Senate has adopted and passed their plan and was also adopted in the House chamber this week. The issue at hand is the current House plan that the Lt. Governor and a majority of the Senate believes need further deliberation. This is what the conference process is for and the Lt. Governor is hopeful conferees can work on a much better plan that what is currently proposed," spokesman for Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant told CNN.

The back and forth over redistricting comes as Barbour has found himself in the middle of several controversies regarding race.

"It's all tactics by Governor Barbour, an attempt to hijack the election process so Republicans can take over the House. And in Mississippi there's a strong correlation between party and race," Carroll Rhodes, an attorney for the NAACP, told CNN.

Barbour's spokeswoman said she had no comment regarding criticisms.

Barbour announced in February he would not sign a bill that would honor a former Confederate general and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard with a license plate after some hedging on his position.

He also created some headlines in December when he told the Weekly Standard magazine "I just don't remember it being that bad" recalling his growing up in segregated, 1960s Yazoo City, Mississippi. Barbour later had to issue a statement explaining his point was that his town was less tolerant of the group than others in the state but also said "nobody should construe...I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the 'Citizens Council' is totally indefensible."

Filed under: Haley Barbour • Mississippi
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Actually, the house plan would leave whites without a huge majority. Moon Pie Haley, cannot even run his third world state of Mississippi.

    March 18, 2011 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    This is just the beginning. Told you this was coming. Citizens United + union-busting + redistricting to marginalize burgeoning minority populations = GOP 2012 strategery.

    March 18, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    ""The House plan would pack nearly 30,000 more Mississippians in 35 existing districts currently held by Republicans than mathematically should be included in those districts,"

    Let's translate, shall we: "More minorities have moved into existing districts and because they don't tend to vote Republican, I'm upset that it has the potential to upset the safety of the assumption that those districts belong to Republicans. They've always been Republican, so they should stay that way. We should be allowed to protect the number of districts that go to Republicans by marginalizing that growing minority population somehow rather than recognizing its existence. Demographics aren't supposed to change the way our state votes. They shouldn't just be allowed to move in and take over on us!!! If they do that, we swear we'll take our country back if it requires revolt!!!"

    March 18, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  4. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    What an oaf!

    March 18, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  5. Mikey

    "He also created some headlines in December when he told the Weekly Standard magazine "I just don't remember it being that bad" recalling his growing up in segregated, 1960s Yazoo City, Mississippi."

    I'm sure it was not that bad for HIM. LOL. I guess he is trying to be more sensitive now that he is thinking about running for President. He can approve the licence plate honoring a famous bigot after he loses in the primaries.

    March 18, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  6. Ron

    Poor Haley. Just can't win for losin'. Dude, you are so out of touch. Just crawl back into your warm little den and stay there. Otherwise, people will have to be cruel and tell you that you are irrelevant! Oops! Did I say that outloud?

    March 18, 2011 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  7. Ken in NC

    All Democrats need now would be for the KKK to openly endorse Haley Barbour for President.

    March 18, 2011 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  8. T'sah from Virginia

    "...said the House proposal would leave many residents without fair representation."

    OR – is it the fact that Barbour wants to keep the district WHITE to guarantee a win??? There should NOT be a district in the United States of America where an American cannot be "fairly" represented!!!!

    Here goes Barbour and all other RepubliCAN’T governors whose main attempt is to destroy the middle class – give more breaks to the Rich – and “rearrange” districts to FAVOR them in the next election!!!

    March 18, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  9. Barbour is a fraud !

    Barbour is finished as a presidential candidate ! Everything about this guy stink's ! He hasn't even got out of the gate and he has scandals are all over him ! He should just call it quit's now before he embarrasses himself any further ! Between him and Newt Gingrich, it's hard to tell which one is sleazier ! Both of which have no business being anywhere near the presidency for a country as diverse as our's !

    March 18, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  10. Clwyd

    I'm sure that this south drawl governor will be sure to redistrict to his and the republicans greatest advantage by drawing the most crooked redistricitng lines you can imagine!

    March 18, 2011 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  11. thomas

    Once a lobbyist , always a lobbyist !
    Good old Haley is the modern day KINGFISH !

    March 18, 2011 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  12. Larry L

    Republicans want a state divided by race. They want a world divided by race. They are racists.

    March 18, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  13. Poor Things

    You can bet your last dollar. When mississippi starts screwing around with redistricting and the voting process something
    discriminatory is amiss. It's just the way those people do business down there. It's all about race and the uncivil war, all the time.
    (Remember Philadelphia miss?) It's a shame, seem like they should be trying to get that hole of a state out of the gutter of America, and stop being the bottom feeders of the country, yet they are constantly hating each other. They are all poor, broke and

    March 18, 2011 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  14. Aaron

    Barbour is probably working for the Mexican government again. This might be a ploy to increase Hispanic voting strength.

    March 19, 2011 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  15. Larry King

    I think the mistake made by the NAACP was not first offering Mr. Barbour an "All-you-can-Eat" buffet, or perhaps a coupon to the "Golden Corral."

    March 19, 2011 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  16. Mindy Terrel Iowa

    Gov Barbour, Follow JUSTICE when Redistricting, Don't try to make Missippi a one party state by this gerymandering.

    March 19, 2011 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  17. US Citizen 2010

    When you have governors like Haley Barbour you can see why Mississippi is in the shape that it is. Last in most social and economic status, you have a governor that's part of the good old boys process. I would never live in that state, thanks for Mississippi burning.

    March 19, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  18. Anonymous

    No one should accept a redistricting plan supported by someone like Barbour, who has well-known ties to lobbyists and Greedy Old Parasite enablers. And we already know Barbour has a distorted view of racial realities in this country.

    March 19, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  19. GOP = Greed Over People

    Tell me one subject that this fat, old, white, rich racist and the NAACP would agree on, and that would be newsworthy.

    Growing up in "my" South, the Chamber of Commerce was a KKK cover to keep blacks out of the CBD(assuming a Louisiana town with a population of 800 HAS a CBD).

    Seems not much has changed in 60 years, at least not in Mississippi and Louisiana.

    Full disclosure: I am a fat, old white guy, but not rich or racist.

    March 19, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    The NAACP is at odds with everyone. They are no longer content to seek equality. They now seek power and control.

    March 19, 2011 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  21. Seattle Sue

    Boss Hogg,the man with the short memory about racism in Miss. during the 1960's, will do all he can to stack the deck against the opposition.

    March 19, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |