The state Senate voted by a razor-thin margin of 18-17 to approve congressional apportionment legislation consolidating the districts of Congressmen Robert Luce of Waltham and Frederick W. Dallinger of Cambridge, both dry Republicans, the Boston Herald reported (June 2, 1931, p. 1, 2).
Rep. Birmingham was a key member of a coalition of Democrats and dry Republicans who fought to defeat the measure, which had been reported to the Senate by a special legislative redistricting committee.
Two amendments to the bill put the cities of Lawrence and Revere into the new 7th district, which was largely represented by Congressman William P. Connery of Lynn. In the original committee report, wards 1 and 2 of Lawrence were placed in the new 6th district, while wards 3 and 4 or Revenue were included in the new 11th district.
The plan as approved by the Senate would send 11 Republicans and four Democrats to Congress, compared with 12 Republicans and four Democrats under the existing apportionment.
Senators John P. Buckley of Charlestown, Democratic minority leader, and James E. Warren of Lawrence were the only Democrats to vote for the redistricting plan.
Democrats who opposed the legislation favored an election-at-large, while Republican opponents wanted to save Luce and Dallinger from facing off in a primary challenge for the new district, with the prospect that a wet Republican would win the nomination.
The legislation as passed by the Senate would provide for a spread of around 90,000 in population between the smallest and largest districts.
The newspaper observed that the opposition of most Senate Democrats and Rep. Birmingham in the House puts Gov. Ely in a difficult position should the Senate passed bill make it to his desk.