Competitive districts serve the public best
In the past 30 years, Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District — always one of the most competitive in the state — has been represented by six different congressmen, equally split between Republicans and Democrats.
By contrast, the Denver-centered 1st Congressional District has had just two congresswomen during that period, both Democrats. And, unlike the 3rd District, where voters have twice ousted a sitting congressman over the past three decades, a Democrat in the 1st District is virtually assured of staying in office until he or she chooses to retire.
One can debate whether the 3rd District or the 1st District has been better represented in Congress over the past 30 years. But there is no disputing that voters in this district have had more real choices for representation in Congress than their counterparts in Denver.
We think that’s important — that election to Congress shouldn’t be the equivalent of a life-time appointment. That’s why we hope the special bipartisan commission to redraw state congressional districts will place a high priority on competitiveness when it gets down to work this spring.
There are other things to consider, of course. Communities in a single district should have shared interests. To that end, we have already argued for returning all of the Western Slope communities to the same congressional district.
But candidates elected from competitive districts have to pay attention to the views of all their constituents, be they Democrat, Republican or independent, not just the more strident voices within their own party. And that makes them better suited to represent all of the people of their district.