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House OKs new political districts
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NASHVILLE (AP) — The state House on Thursday approved a Republican plan to redraw the chamber’s 99 districts, overriding Democrat objections that it placed five African-American incumbents into three seats, ensuring at least two of them would be forced out of office.The chamber voted 67-25 to approve the map that ultimately included changes from the original map to spare three other Democrats from having to face other incumbents this year.House Speaker Beth Harwell praised the final result as representing that fellow Republicans had “drawn these lines fairly, and that there’s proper representation for each district.”Democrats, who had several proposals to redraw the Republican maps rejected on the House floor, said they wouldn’t rule out a legal challenge.“We’re going to talk to the Democratic Party, we’re going to talk to our Black Caucus and to the different interested parties, and we’ll make that decisions,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville.Turner said he was one of seven Democrats who voted for final version as part of a deal with Republican leaders to step back from plans to draw Democratic Reps. Mike Stewart and Sherry Jones into the same Nashville district, and to put Democratic Rep. Eddie Bass of Prospect into the same seat as Republican Rep. Vance Dennis of Savannah.Dennis was instead drawn together with Republican Rep. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald, who is expected to instead run for the state Senate. Hensley abstained from the vote and declined to comment about his plans afterward.Harwell denied she demanded a vote from Democratic leaders.“There was no deal cut,” she said.