GOP not sure about appeal of congressional districts

The Colorado Republican Party hasn’t decided whether it will appeal a Denver District Court ruling issued late last week to adopt a Democratic map redrawing congressional district lines.

Republicans don’t like the map, in part, because it turns the heavily Republican 6th Congressional District into one that is as competitive as the 3rd and 7th districts, which are nearly evenly split between the parties and unaffiliated voters.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican, represents the 6th district. The 3rd and 7th districts are represented by a Republican and Democrat, respectively.

“Of particular concern is this court’s reliance on an artificial notion of competitiveness that is foreign to the state Constitution, state statutes and case law that should guide the courts in crafting district maps,” GOP party chairman Ryan Call said. “Despite serious problems with the court’s map, this plan still provides a clear opportunity for Republicans to maintain our congressional delegation.”

On Thursday, Denver District Court Judge Robert Hyatt approved a map that nearly completely redefines the 6th district, taking the GOP-dominated Douglas County out and replacing it with the city of Aurora, which has far more Democrats.

In his ruling, Hyatt said that map was the fairest because it gives the state’s third largest city a single representative in Congress, and allows Latinos a greater say on who that person should be.

Call’s counterpart in the Colorado Democratic Party, Rick Palacio, said the map is a fair one.

“Colorado voters will have the chance to select representatives in Washington who can champion all of our needs,” Palacio said. “The boundaries drawn by (the) order reflect Colorado of today and not an outdated version of our rapidly changing state.”

While the battle over the map has centered on Front Range districts, the two major party candidates for the 3rd Congressional District said they are pleased it largely was left alone.

Because of population shifts during the past decade, the district needed about 12,500 more voters. The adopted map accomplishes that by moving two-thirds of Eagle County and all of Lake County into the district. At the same time, it removes less populated Las Animas and Otero counties on the southern Eastern Plains to the 4th District that already represents that side of the state. The only Western Slope counties not included in the 3rd district, Summit and Grand, will remain in the 2nd district.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican, and his Democratic rival in next year’s elections, Sal Pace, said they largely are pleased with the map, saying the district always has been a competitive one.

“Be it party affiliation, geography, whatever measure you want to use, the 3rd CD works,” Tipton said. “This is about keeping areas of community interest together.”

Tipton said he’s sorry to see Las Animas and Otero counties leave the district, but it makes sense to bring in Lake and Eagle counties. He said he’s gotten to know that area pretty well because he has to drive through it to get to Pitkin County, which is in the district.

Pace, who represents Pueblo in the Colorado House, said he also will be sad to see those southeast counties leave, but that it makes sense to have a district that ties the Western Slope, the San Luis Valley and Pueblo together.

“What I like about the judge’s decision is he kept the integrity of Colorado’s rural district, the 3rd, together,” Pace said. “We share a lot of common interests, agriculture, water, a rural way of life. That’s consistent with the 3rd after the judge’s decision.”


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