2nd Congressional Representative Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, stands with supporters on the steps of the Dougherty County Courthouse in this 2010 file photo.
ATLANTA — New maps released Monday by the General Assembly show a proposed Second Congressional District that is expected to be more friendly to Democrats and longtime U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany.
Bishop narrowly beat Republican challenger Mike Keown in the November 2010 mid-term elections that saw Republicans wrest control of the U.S. House from Democrats. Bishop’s victory was thanks primarily to urban centers in Albany and Columbus. The General Assembly is poised to add Macon to the mix, effectively conceding the seat to Democrats.
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Bishop was cautiously optimistic about the map and said he had not yet had an opportunity to analyze the proposed changes.
“This is very early in the process,” Bishop said before heading to a town hall meeting in Columbus. “I have to reserve any judgment on what has been offered.”
Bishop, who was first elected in 1992 and will seek his 10th term next year, said he doesn’t worry about the district’s racial makeup.
“I started out with a district with a plurality of black voters,” Bishop said. “After redistricting, I ended up with a smaller number. So that has gone up and down over the years. My focus is on representing whomever is in the second congressional district to the best of my ability.”
The move also is expected to make the Eight District, which Republicans took from Democrats when Austin Scott of Tifton defeated incumbent Jim Marshall of Macon, safer for the GOP to retain.
According to data compiled from the redistricting office and the U.S. Census Bureau, the Second Dstrict will pick up an additional 60,000 people, with the percentage of black residents, who tend to vote Democrat, rising from 48 percent to 52 percent.
Scott’s district will now stretch from Monroe and Jones County in North Central Georgia down to Lowndes County on the Florida line and will pick up Moody Air Force Base, which had previously been in Republican Jack Kingston’s Congressional District.
His district will shrink by 23,623 people and drop from a black population of almost 35 percent to about 30 percent.
Despite the fact that the newly-drawn 13th Congressional District in north Georgia has been drawn to the benefit of the Republicans, Democratic officials say that they’re confident with the way things are shaking out.
“While the redistricting process in Georgia is far from final, if this map were to become law we are very confident that Democrats will be able to win all of the seats we currently hold and put at least one more seat in play,” said Adam Hodge of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The biggest news from the maps comes from the 12th Congressional District, where Rep. John Barrow, a white Blue-Dog Democrat, was drawn out of his own district.
Barrow told the political website Politico Monday that despite the fact the new district will make it tougher for him to retain his seat, he’s planning to fight to keep it.
“This isn’t the first time the folks in Atlanta have put politics above the interests of the people I represent … and I doubt it will be the last,” the fourth-term Democrat said in a statement. “But I’ve always believed that working hard for the people trumps politics every time. ... I look forward to getting to know the new constituents drawn in to Georgia’s 12th District, and building on the friendships I’ve formed with folks who still call the 12th District home.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.