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Gov. Lee signs redistricting map that splits Nashville
Gov. Lee
Gov. Bill Lee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has approved a proposal to split fast-growing Nashville into multiple congressional seats, a move Democrats have warned will unfairly affect Black voters.

The Republican on Sunday also signed off on legislation redrawing election boundaries for the state's Senate and House seat. The governor's office did not issue any public comment about why he signed the maps, but Lee had previously told reporters he saw “no reason” why he wouldn't.

Lee's spokesperson did not immediately return an email request for comment Monday.

Currently, Tennessee’s U.S. House delegation consists of seven Republicans and just two Democrats, whose districts center on Nashville and Memphis.

Nashville's seat has largely remained intact for 200 years. The district extends into two additional counties and has about a 24% Black population.

Pleas to keep Nashville whole went largely ignored in the Republican-controlled General Assembly as it moved through it’s once-a-decade task of carving new legislative and congressional districts.

And Republicans have not directly addressed the effect their plan would have on Black voters in Nashville. Instead, they have largely touted that their plan complies with the law and will only boost Nashville’s influence inside Congress because it’ll have three House members instead of one.

Under the newly drawn maps, Nashville will be split into three seats. This will likely make any Democrat a significant underdog against a Republican.

That fate was only highlighted when Nashville's longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Democrat, already said he would not run for reelection just a day after the GOP-controlled Statehouse approved the newly drawn congressional districts. Cooper said there was “no way” for him to retain his seat with the district the Republicans drew.

Tennessee's Democratic Party has promised to sue over the map, but such legal challenges are expected to face an uphill battle. The U.S. Supreme Court has taken a hands-off approach on partisan redistricting maps since the issue was taken up a decade ago. Tennessee also lacks the kind of state requirements that advocates in Ohio, for one, have used in recent redistricting challenge wins.

Nationally, Republicans need a net gain of five seats to flip U.S. House control.

While both parties have gerrymandered, these days Republicans have more opportunities. The GOP controls the line-drawing process in states representing 187 House seats compared with 75 for Democrats. The rest of the states use either independent commissions, have split government control or only one congressional seat.