Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Monday announced that he will create a bipartisan commission to oversee the state's redistricting this year, a process that will undoubtedly affect lawmakers in Northern Virginia looking to hold onto their seats in 2011 and 2012. The commission, tasked with crafting redistricting plans to forward to the General Assembly based on 2010 census data, consists of 11 members, including former state lawmakers and former judges. Bob Holsworth, a longtime Virginia political analyst and founder of the nonpartisan Web site, will be chairman of the panel. "As Virginia redraws its legislative districts later this year, the process should take place in a manner that is fair and open," said McDonnell, who pledged in the 2009 campaign to make redistricting more bipartisan.

Redistricting stands to have wide-ranging implications for fast-growing Northern Virginia, which is poised to gain additional representation in the state House and Senate.

After more detailed census data is released in February, state lawmakers will convene to hash out district lines for House and Senate seats in time for the fall campaigns in which all 140 General Assembly seats are up for election.

The Democratic state Senate and Republican state House will redraw districts for the state's 11 congressmen.

Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, who narrowly won a second term over Republican Keith Fimian in November, said he was glad to see the governor form an independent group to keep tabs on the process, but wasn't sure the move would favor either party.

"I think you have to respect where the growth is," said Connolly, whose 11th District comprises most of Fairfax County and part of Prince William County.

Connolly estimated that his district would have to shrink, as well as the 10th District, which stretches from McLean to Winchester and is represented by Republican Rep. Frank Wolf. Rep. Jim Moran's 8th District seat, representing deep-blue Arlington County and Alexandria, is a bit smaller than it needs to be, Connolly said.

"The only incumbent who has any uncertainty, really, is Connolly," said Michael McDonald, a George Mason University professor who specializes in redistricting. "But his district isn't going to change radically."