The Virginia state senate is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, 20-20. Republicans really hate this, but what can they do? Answer: wait for a Democratic state senator to be absent and jam through a mid-decade redistricting plan that switches one seat from D to R by creating a new pack-and-crack majority black district just south of Richmond. The vote was 20-19.
But wait! That's not all. The deed was done on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and at the end of the session Republicans adjourned in memory of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, whose birthday is today.
Oh, and did I mention that the state senator who was absent is a veteran of the civil rights movement? And that he was in Washington to attend the inauguration of our country's first black president?
Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has obvious presidential ambitions, said he was surprised by the move, but didn't denounce it and didn't promise to veto it. Quite the contrary: his spokesman said the governor would "review it in great detail" once the bill got to his desk.
It's truly a mystery why so few African-Americans support the Republican Party, isn't it? A real chin-stroker.