Northam, a Democrat, had called the special session in August to meet a court-ordered deadline of Oct. 30 for the state to adopt new House of Delegates district lines that are no longer unconstitutionally drawn based on race.
The current lines were drawn after the 2010 census, when there was a strong Republican majority. Any new lines would likely swing things toward Democrats in next year’s elections.
“The federal court has contemplated a process by which it, through a nonpartisan special master, will construct a remedial districting plan should legislative efforts fail, and I believe that is the best course of action before us,” Northam said in a statement Tuesday. “Virginians deserve fair and constitutional lines in place in time for June 2019 primaries, without further delay.”
If the federal court redraws lines, there could be more changes than the smaller tweaks the current 51-49 GOP majority might hope for.
House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, is calling delegates back to Richmond on Oct. 21 to take up the Republican plan.
WTOP’s Teta Alim contributed to this report.