Legislative maps win court’s OK

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The Colorado Supreme Court approved new legislative maps Monday, ordering that they be filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office no later than Wednesday.

The maps were the second set of new lines for the Colorado House and Senate drawn by the 11-member Colorado Reapportionment Commission.

The high court rejected the first set after critics, primarily Republicans, complained they crossed too many county lines.

As a result, they ended up with maps drawn primarily by Democrats that crossed fewer county lines, but ones that will pit several Republican incumbents against each other during next year’s legislative races.

Democrats, however, argue that the maps created more competitive districts, and that will help attract candidates who are more middle-of-the road.

“These new districts will favor representatives who are accountable and responsive, and Democrats will field candidates who fit this profile,” Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio said.

“It is disappointing to see the supreme court validate such blatantly partisan and politically vindictive maps,” countered Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs. “It is clear that the reapportionment process in Colorado is broken and in need of reform.”

The new maps create 42 districts where party affiliation between Democratic, Republicans and unaffiliated voters is within 9 percentage points, 26 in the 65-member House and 16 in the 35-member Senate.

The maps also pit three Democratic and seven Republican incumbents against each other in next year’s races, and puts Democratic and Republican incumbents against each other in four more.

For the Western Slope, the maps create a first-ever House district solely for Grand Junction, something that both Reps. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, and Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, agree was a good move.

“Obviously, we’re a growing community, so the more voice we have in Denver the better, there’s no question about that,” Scott said. “Still, I’m disappointed the court, in my opinion, decided to overturn the election of 2010 in some respects because the people who voted for you are not where we’re at now.”

The city and the county will have their own voices in the Legislature after the 2012 election, and that’s not all bad, Bradford said.

“This way, the rep from the city can concentrate on those urban issues that are related directly to the city,” she said. “And the other rep can concentrate on ag, water issues, oil and gas, impact stuff and the ruralness of that district.”

But while the two say they are fine with their portion of the map, they aren’t with the rest of it. The two agree that too much politics got in the way of drawing the new maps, one they say ended up favoring more Democrats than Republicans.

“It puts a lot of people in predicaments that I think some could have been avoided,” Bradford said, referring to the large number of incumbents elsewhere in the state who will have to run against each other to remain in the Legislature.

The Senate maps for the Western Slope changed little in the final version, putting all of Mesa County into its own district.

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