Barnes, Murphy play with dueling maps 

Has Gov. Roy Barnes, the primo puppet master, finally pulled one string too far?

With Barnes and Democratic party honchos collaborating on a proposed map that would re-draw district lines in the state, some incumbent Democrats have felt left out in the cold.

So they're turning to a leader who's been in politics longer than most of us have been alive: House Speaker Tom Murphy, who's coming up with his own map.

Even Rep. Calvin Smyre, the chair of the powerful House Rules Committee and who was instrumental in helping Barnes craft a backroom compromise over a new state flag, has signed on to Murphy's map.

Another Democrat told CL that the Democratic Party leaders, Executive Director John Kirincich and Chairman David Worley, "don't have a lot support. In fact, it's the opposite of support.

"Yeah, they have a computer that you can punch all the numbers into and come up with a map that works, ... [but] the party has not clued in to what actual House members want. They haven't talked to any individuals and that's what it takes in order to pass [a map]."

More than likely though, there won't be a clash of the titans between Barnes and Murphy. They'll just scramble in the ninth inning to merge their two maps and come up with a compromise that won't be as near as good as either of their first maps.

That's good news for Republicans. Even a small schism in the Democratic Party could give Republicans the boost they need as the state becomes more conservative. (The count in the House is now 105 Democrats to 74 Republicans, with one independent.)

Minority Leader Lynn Westmoreland claims he's already been approached by unhappy Democrats who like the maps he submitted at a July 10 House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee meeting.

"They call me and say, 'You know, if you could just get so and so precincts into my district, I'd like that map,'" he says.

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