A new seventh S.C. congressional district anchored by Horry County was approved by the state legislature Tuesday. It now goes to Gov. Nikki Haley for her signature.
The House vote preserved the roots of the redistricting plan approved last month, but changed the route through the Lowcountry to address the concerns of some Senate members. The original House plan would have shifted Rep. Jim Clyburn's District 6 from Daniel Island to a portion of West Ashley.
"The Senate was concerned we were splitting that West Ashley community," said Rep. Jim Harrison, chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Under the amendment, the boundaries will return largely to the existing route Clyburn's district takes through Berkeley and Dorchester.
The redistricting plan was complicated last month when a majority of the Senate voted to create a seventh district deep in the Lowcountry, which included all of Berkeley and Dorchester counties down to Beaufort County.
That plan, authored by Sen. Larry Grooms of Berkeley County, had been supported by some local advocates who expected it to give the Dorchester/Berkeley region more clout in picking a U.S. House member.
But it seemed the impasse between the two bodies scared off support for that proposal, with even Grooms voting in support of the House plan.
Sen. Mike Rose, R-Summerville, told voters on Tuesday that he supported the House plan out of fear that no result in the legislature would mean a judicial panel would draw district boundaries. And, if a judicial panel drew the boundaries, it could have meant boundaries that helped bring about a second Democratic seat, instead of a sixth Republican seat.
"If a Lowcountry seventh plan were drawn by the judges, the congressman representing Dorchester may not come from Dorchester or Berkeley, but instead may come from Beaufort or a rural county like Allendale," Rose told Patch.
Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, also tweeted his hold-your-nose support for the Pee Dee seventh. "Not ideal, but better than the court drawing lines, so 'Aye,'" he wrote.