Phil Leventis to face redistricting axe?

The last two cycles of redistricting have seen the Pee Dee region lose legislative representation. Four House seats moved out of the region in this time, with two or three more seats likely to be erased as the region continues to lag behind the state's population growth.

Senate seats have been harder to pick up and move because there are fewer of them. Their larger population has allowed them to stretch the seats geographically, picking up pockets of the more populous metros to the west of the region and along the coast in order to avoid taking a Senate seat out of the Pee Dee region entirely.

But this year, long-term population trends may have reached a tipping point, with talk around Columbia increasingly suggesting the Senate seat held by long-time Sumter Democrat Phil Leventis will be wiped out, possibly to create a new GOP-leaning district in the Lowcountry region.

It's an outcome which some will say was inevitable for the region, which has seen several seats increasingly shifted out of the region to try to protect the Pee Dee's core Senate districts.

Most notably has been the seat held by North Myrtle Beach Democrat Dick Elliot. Before the 1990s, his seat was solely based in on the other side of the Little Pee Dee River. Since then, the seat has moved into Horry County increasingly to keep the district at population, and it's expected to be an entirely Horry County seat when redrawn later this year.

To the west, Senate seats held by Greg Gregory and Vince Sheheen have shifted westwards into the Charlotte and Columbia metros to yield population to Pee Dee-based districts now held by Leventis, along with Senators John Land, Hugh Leatherman, Gerald Malloy, Yancey McGill and Kent Williams.

With the regions' two majority-white Senate districts split between the parties and concerns that the region's majority-black districts retain black population majorities to avoid Justice Department objections, it leaves few options. With Florence County having grown more than Sumter and Leatherman being a member of the Senate Republican caucus, it's hard to see where Leventis won't be the who loses the game of musical chairs, with much of the district's population going to neighboring districts held by Land and Malloy.

While this news might not be well-received by Sumter Republicans, who've regularly contested the seat, almost knocking Leventis out in 2004, odds are the seat would be an easy GOP pickup if moved to the coast.

None of those we talked with about this wanted to go on the record, suggesting a great deal of discomfort with the possible fate of Leventis.

1 Response to "Phil Leventis to face redistricting axe?"

  1. Anonymous 2/5/11 22:52
    Earl, good article, but improperly headlined. In essence, Phil Leventis won't be "getting the axe," let's face it he's an old fighter pilot (he'll just "fade away" or something according to Doughlas MacArthur?). It is Senate Dist. 35 that will be "getting the axe." I hope Sumter wakes up to fight for it's own seat and to have it's own Senator, if what you write is ture that Community had better.

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