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The Va. Supreme Court rejects all three Republican redistricting nominees

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FILE PHOTO: Sen. Tommy Norment, pictured in session before the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Craig Carper/VPM News)

The Supreme Court of Virginia rejected three Republican nominees for special master, a position which will be awarded to a redistricting expert to help the justices draw new political maps based on 2020 Census data.

All three were nominated by two state Republicans: Del. Todd Gilbert, the incoming speaker of the house, and Sen. Tommy Norment, the minority leader. The court is required to pick one special master nominated by each major party in the wake of the failed redistricting commission.

In the Nov. 12 order, the justices referenced a letter from Senate Democrats that alleged the redistricting experts held conflicts of interest. One nominee, Thomas Bryan, worked on redistricting policies with Senate Republicans this year, and was paid $20,000 in return. 

The other two, Adam Foltz and Adam Kincaid, have long ties to the Republican party, and worked on maps in Wisconsin and Idaho later struck down for partisan gerrymandering.

The justices agreed that the nominees’ prior work was disqualifying, although they didn’t provide much context on the exclusion of Foltz and Kincaid: “The Court also has concerns about the ability of the remaining Republican nominees to serve in the role of Special Master,” the justices wrote.

A GOP spokesperson told the Richmond Times-Dispatch they have the same conflict of interest concerns with the names offered by Democrats, but the court made no mention of them.

The justices ordered Republicans to come up with new recommendations by 5 p.m. on Nov. 15.

Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host. He began his career as a VPM News intern in 2019 and has covered pipelines, urban heat islands, the electric grid and more. You can find him biking in Bryan Park, petting neighborhood cats or listening to live music.