The Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 was inaugurated during a racially troublesome period in American history. It was passed in order to certify the right of minorities to equal participation in the electoral process. But electoral progress didn't happen in one fell-swoop, more amendments were made to increase minority opportunities. Despite the progress, however, Democrats believe that minority communities are not fertile enough to produce the level of competency needed for the legislature. Therefore, strategic moves are being made by white Democrat politicians to move into minority districts - districts reshaped to increase minority representation in the State Legislature.
"Carpetbagger" is a pejorative term that refers to outsiders that move into new areas so they can exploit a community, more specifically their political process. In the 19th century, northerners would pack up their belongings in suitcases consisting of a stout carpeted material called "carpetbags" and would move south to exploit the economic disparity between the northern and southern regions. As you can imagine, the south didn't appreciate the new northern practice. And even today, people don't appreciate when outsiders move into their communities, especially when they seek to exploit them for political power.
A conservative group called Media Trackers broke a story last week saying incumbent Democrats were swarming minority districts to retain power. White Democrat incumbents recently announced their intentions to move into minority districts as minority representatives were either retiring or leaving to seek higher office. Here is the breakdown.
Democrat Rep. Sandy Pasch announced earlier last week that she's leaving the 23rd Assembly District and moving into the newly drawn 10th Assembly District. The 10th District has a 73% minority population and is currently represented by Elizabeth Coggs, an African American Legislator that is leaving to run for State Senate.
Democrat Rep. Corey Mason is moving out of the 62nd Assembly District and into the 66th Assembly District. The 66th District has a 53% minority population and is currently represented by Robert Turner, an African American Legislator that is retiring at the end of his term.
And reportedly, Democrat Rep. Fred Kessler is leaving the 22nd Assembly District to run for a seat in the 12th Assembly District - a district Kessler represented to the passing of Act 43. The 12 District now has a 69% minority population.
Rep. Josh Zepnick, a white Democrat, is moving into a newly drawn 9th Assembly District - a district with a minority population of 66%. Act 43 redistricted Zepnick out of the 9th District leaving him with one of two choices: he could either move into the newly drawn 9th District, or he could stay where he lived and run against an incumbent in the 7th Assembly District. Zepnick chose to move and run in the minority district, which is troubling.
The purpose of redistricting the 9th District was to improve opportunities for Latinos to elect their own candidates, not for incumbent politicians to relocate. The Democrat Party has long touted the view that minority groups should be able to elect their own politicians. Yet, when minority communities are in good position to choose their own representation, the Democrat Party schemes - behind closed doors - to move non-minority legislators into minority districts.
Late last year, Voces de la Frontera filed a federal lawsuit against the state in an effort to roll back recent changes made by Act 43. Their lawsuit succeeded and decreased the Latino population of the new 9th Assembly District. This paved the way for Zepnick to run in a district less capable of producing Latino challengers. It should be noted, however, that a good portion of the community doesn't care if the candidate is a Latino or non-Latino as long as the candidate is willing to represent the will of the community. But it should be the will of the people, not the will of a political party that decides on the candidate.