Back in September I brought to light rumors that had been swirling behind the scenes about Eric Cantor and others courting Glenn Nye to switch parties. Many may have filed this away for future reference but you'll want to add this potential scenario to the list of reasons why Glenn Nye will be switching to the Republican Party at some point to continue his career in politics.
A liberal blogger over at Swing State Project has pointed out what many Virginia politicos have known for some time: a Republican redistricting could create two minority-majority districts based in Eastern Virginia. (I'll put aside right now the possibility of creating another in Northern Virginia, at least for this post.)
Now it's not surprising that the Party of Lincoln would want to help create a new minority-majority district to help compensate for the historic unjust of years of Democrat-enforced segregation and Jim Crow in the Old Dominion. In the end, this would work out very well for everyone involved. Democrats are faced with only one reliable liberal from the African-American community in Hampton Roads: Bobby Scott. Republicans are faced with one district that voted for Obama, Randy Forbe's 4th District, and one that seems dangerously close to flipping given long term trends, Rob Wittman's 1st District. Then there's the 2nd District's Glenn Nye, who after riding Obama's coattails to victory has done everything possible to ignore his Democratic base.
So Governor Bob McDonnell, faced with a solidly Republican House of Delegates and a narrowly Democratic State Senate, has several options before redistricting. He could try to court a moderate Democrat like Chris Miller or Ralph Northam to switch parties. He could appoint a Democrat to his administration and hope a Republican wins the special election. Or he can employ this plan, which involves creating a new majority-minority district in the Hampton Roads area. This would almost certainly lock down the Republican hold on the 1st and the 4th for some time to come. And it would give an up and coming liberal with support from the African-American community a clear edge over Glenn Nye in a primary.
So liberals win with a new reliable member of Congress. Republicans win by protecting two members from potential defeat in the next decade. Win, win!
As an added plus, it could probably be done to also include some of the Democratic-leaning precincts in Perriello's 5th District (areas of Brunswick, Prince Edward, etc.) and help lock down the Republican hold there too. Win, win, win!
This plan works very well if George Allen's return to politics fizzles. Faced with a need for a conservative candidate against Jim Webb in 2012, the Republican Party of Virginia may have to turn to its two leading conservatives in the House: Randy Forbes and Rob Wittman. This would leave a vacancy in the two Republican districts in Eastern Virginia, offering Glenn Nye a clear choice. He can stick with the Democratic Party and the district lines will be drawn to make sure he's stuck in the new minority-majority district where his continued opposition to Obama will be held against him in the primary. Or he can join the Republican Party and the lines will be drawn so that his reelection and continued service on the House Armed Services Committee (a key for the region) will be secured. The conservative establishment will assure Glenn that they will easily keep the rabble rousing Tea Partiers from knocking him off in a Republican Primary. Eric Cantor, George Allen, Bob McDonnell, and others will stump for Good Ol' Glenn.
If George Allen runs (which I'm cautiously supportive of) the scenario gets more complicated but is still possible. The new lines would have to run a lot farther west and include more of Central and Western Virginia.
Now I promised in the title an added twist. Well if this plan works so well for liberals and Republicans at the Congressional level, why not apply it to the state level too? Delegate Danny Marshall of Danville is facing the second major challenge in two election cycles, although it seems clear that Deeds is going to draw down House Democrat candidates everywhere. But what about the future? The long term demographic trends in Danville look bad for Republicans. But what if you took the more Democrat precincts of Danville and drew a district that connected them with similar precincts in neighboring Pittsylvania, Henry, Martinsville, and maybe even Halifax. I'm sure you could produce a district that would want to elect a far more reliable liberal than, say, Ward Armstrong, who could be drawn into the lines.