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Legislators Reshuffle Localities

FARMVILLE – Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward Counties are in three different House of Delegates Districts in a redistricting plan passed Friday by the General Assembly.

But an entirely new Senate District-the 22nd District-would include each of the three counties, stretching from Lynchburg to Goochland, just west of Richmond. The current incumbent, Republican Ralph Smith, is a former mayor of Roanoke, which shows the degree of reshaping change to the formerly Roanoke-centered district. Roanoke is nowhere near the new 22nd district, which would therefore have no incumbent and be wide open for candidates.

The redistricting plan has been sent to Governor Bob McDonnell for his expected signature.

So expected is the governor's signature that Bryan Rhode, fourth district chairman of the Goochland Republican Committee and a prosecutor in the Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney's office, officially announced his candidacy late Monday for the GOP's 22nd District nomination.

Sen. Frank Ruff, whose 15th District had included Prince Edward, a portion of Cumberland and all but one precinct in Buckingham, reacted with dismay and blames partisanship by Senate Democrats.

“It is with my great disappointment that the 15th Senate District has been so chopped up in the redistricting process. I understand the need to adjust the lines of the 40 districts to balance the numbers in those districts,” the Republican said in a press release issued Monday. “However, throughout the state, district after district, communities of interest were divided by the Democrats. Counties and towns were split often to accomplish little.”

In the House, all of Buckingham remains in the 59th District, represented by incumbent Independent Watkins M. Abbitt, Jr.

All of Prince Edward County is now in Republican delegate James Edmunds' 60th District. A portion of the county had been in the 59th.

“I do. I do,” Del. Edmunds said when asked if he thought it made sense for a county to be in one district, rather than split up between two or three districts, describing it as “absolutely beneficial…When a county is split up it becomes something of a stepchild.”

“I'm excited to be serving all of Prince Edward,” he said, looking hopefully toward reelection. “I'm honored.”

The delegate said that if he wins reelection he would treat every constituent as his most important, even if they live at the end of the last road in the remotest part of the district and are “the last house on the line.”

Gov. McDonnell vetoed the first redistricting plan the General Assembly approved but Del. Edmunds expects these new district lines to become law. “All indications are that the governor is going to sign (the bill),” he said.

The entirety of Cumberland, meanwhile, moves from the 59th to the 61st District, represented by the GOP's Tommy Wright.

The new 59th District would include all of Appomattox and Buckingham and part of Albemarle, Campbell, and Nelson Counties.

The new 60th District would include all of Charlotte, Halifax and Prince Edward Counties, and part of Campbell.

The new 61st District would include all of Amelia, Cumberland, Mecklenburg and Nottoway Counties and part of Lunenburg.

The deadline for Gov. McDonnell's signature on the redistricting plan is this Friday, May 6.