UPDATE: Not happening, folks. New statement from Sen. Rollie Heath a short while ago:
The redistricting process isn’t supposed to create Congressmen or Congresswomen for life. Republican lawmakers owe it to the people of Colorado to support a congressional redistricting map that respects communities of interest and includes competitive districts, a request made repeatedly at public meetings all across the state. Throughout this process the Republicans have said ‘we’re just tweaking’ these maps a little bit. Now it’s clear that those tweaks were to solidify their existing majority.
As well as from new Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio:
“Every election is an opportunity for Coloradans to weigh in on the direction of our communities and our state. But once again, partisan Republicans in the State Capitol are trying to rig the process and tamp down voter input by gerrymandering Colorado’s congressional map.
“The newest GOP maps rely on tactics from decades past where politicians treat the redistricting process like a buffet, picking and choosing which voters they represent. Coloradans and the Court have rejected this scheme in the past, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping the Republicans. Turning to old-style tricks may seem like good politics to Republicans, but it’s a bad deal for the future of Colorado communities.
“Democrats are committed to the creation of competitive districts, ensuring that Coloradans have genuine choices in each election. Competitiveness also makes certain that our elected officials are beholden to the voters. Unfortunately, the GOP has proven once again, that they are beholden only to the Republican Party.”
Republicans led by Rep. Dave Balmer rolled out their “last best hope for compromise” congressional redistricting map bill at a press conference earlier this afternoon. This follows last week’s introduction in the Senate of the “City Integrity” map legislation from Democrats led by Sen. Rollie Heath of the now-dead Joint Select Committee on Redistricting.
We don’t have much information yet on this latest map from Republicans, but it reportedly does increase GOP representation in five of Colorado’s seven districts–not a sign of good faith if that’s accurate. We want to be careful to not prejudice this map until it’s been analyzed in real detail, however. Megan Verlee of Colorado Public Radio Tweeted that Sen. Heath will wait until a scheduled initial hearing Thursday for the GOP map in the House before proceeding with his.
Nevertheless, defiantly-worded press releases were exchanged between the Senate and House majorities today, and we’ve reprinted both after the jump. Says Sen. Heath, “We will review this map, but last week, Republicans admitted to deliberately drawing districts to give their party an unfair political advantage and solidify their majority for the next decade. Democrats have expressed our sincere willingness to work with Republicans. Hopefully they’ve created competitive congressional districts and have not tried to rig the game again.”
Answers Rep. Balmer, “We continue to act in good faith with this map, taking into account organic testimony as well as Democrat and Republican ideas.”
House Republicans Introduce “Colorado Communities” Redistricting Map
Measure Touted as Last Best Hope for Bipartisan Compromise
DENVER-House Republicans introduced a fair redistricting map this afternoon that respects Colorado’s diverse geographic and cultural differences, is in line with state law, reflects the will of the vast majority of Coloradans, and includes Democrat recommendations.
“This isn’t a Republican map, it’s a map for every Coloradan,” said State Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, who chairs the House Congressional Redistricting Committee. “We continue to act in good faith with this map, taking into account organic testimony as well as Democrat and Republican ideas. With only a few days left in the session, this is our last opportunity to adopt a truly bipartisan map.”
The “Colorado Communities Map” includes several Democrat requests, including putting most of Aurora in the Sixth Congressional District, keeping Denver whole and keeping Longmont in the Fourth Congressional District.
“We have done everything we can to ensure this map responsibly incorporates ideas from both Democrats and Republicans,” said Redistricting Committee member Rep. B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland. ”It is our hope that Democrats will work across the aisle and join us to pass a map this session. Colorado cannot afford to spend $200,000 on a special session, or millions of dollars on court battles.”
Most importantly, the Republicans said the map would protect Colorado’s diverse geographic and cultural communities.
“The people of Colorado want a map that ensures they have a voice in Washington, D.C.” said Redistricting Committee member Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose. ”
The Colorado Communities Map does this by keeping the Western Slope whole and respecting the Eastern Plains. This map also keeps El Paso County whole in order to protect the voice of our military members and their families.”
Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, added, “This map is fair by any definition. It is my hope that our friends on the other side of the aisle will join us in supporting this map because it is good for all Coloradans.”
Senator Heath says Republican redistricting map better not rig the game again
Last week Republicans admitted to deliberately drawing districts to give their party an unfair political advantage
DENVER- Today, Colorado House Republicans announced they will introduce a congressional redistricting map. This follows their admission last week that they’d “deliberately tweaked” maps to favor the Republican Party in future elections. The admission was reported in the Denver Post in a story entitled “GOP admits skewing Colorado redistricting maps.” This revelation came even after legislators had formed an historic bipartisan redistricting committee to take on the constitutionally mandated task of redrawing Colorado’s congressional lines. Legislators are charged with redistricting every 10 years following the U.S. Census.
On the map to be introduced today, Redistricting Committee Co-chair Senator Rollie Heath (D-Boulder) made the following comment:
“We will review this map, but last week, Republicans admitted to deliberately drawing districts to give their party an unfair political advantage and solidify their majority for the next decade. Democrats have expressed our sincere willingness to work with Republicans. Hopefully they’ve created competitive congressional districts and have not tried to rig the game again. Colorado voters deserve fair and competitive congressional districts that allow them to hold their elected representatives accountable.”
On April 28, Senate Democrats introduced a redistricting map to create fair, competitive congressional districts that protect communities of interest in Colorado. Competitive districts are good public policy. A district is competitive when there are a balanced number of Republicans, Independents and Democrats. In a balanced district, a candidate from either party can be elected. Competitive districts allow voters to better hold elected officials accountable. Voter registration in the state shows that Colorado’s electorate does not overwhelmingly favor one party over the other, and nearly one-third of the population isn’t registered with either party at all. That is the reason competitive districts make sense for Colorado.
When the historic joint redistricting committee was introduced, leaders from both parties expressed their intention to negotiate in good faith to create fair and competitive districts. Below are several quotes from Republican leaders and Governor Hickenlooper from that time:
When the Joint Select Committee on Redistricting was announced, then Speaker Designee Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) said, “Colorado voters deserve a fair, open, and transparent process.” (December 16 2010)
When the committee appointments were announced, Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp (R-Littleton) said, “The focus of this joint legislative committee is to ensure districts are competitive and the general public has a voice in this effort.” (December 30, 2010)
In December, Governor Elect John Hickenlooper said, publicly supported the proposed joint legislative effort to redraw Colorado’s congressional districts and strongly supported drawing competitive districts. Governor Hickenlooper was quoted saying, “The more competitive a district is, the more meaningful the vote is to voters.” (KUSA, 9 News, December 30, 2010)