Dem redistricting proposal leaves Western Slope intact

DENVER — In the ever-changing world of redrawing congressional districts in the Colorado Legislature, a new Democratic map was unveiled Wednesday that keeps the Western Slope whole.

That new map, which will be debated in a Senate committee this afternoon, adds Chaffee County and the southwest corner of Eagle County to the existing 3rd Congressional District, while removing Otero County.

Though the new Democratic map is closer to a revised map that the Republicans released on Tuesday, which also is to be heard in committee today, GOP lawmakers remained critical.

“I’m glad to see that the Democrats have finally backed off on their desire to rip apart the Western Slope. They at least get credit for that, but the fact that they continue to sell out the lower Ark (Arkansas Valley) and the Eastern Plains is problematic,” said House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch.

“It seems to me that Denver Democrats can’t help themselves. There is no regard to rural Colorado. Until the Democrats realize that the Eastern Plains needs to be respected, they are going to have a hard time selling this plan with the public in Colorado.”

Republicans also criticized the map for moving the heavily Republican Douglas County into the same 2nd Congressional District that includes heavily Democratic Boulder County.

Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, who unveiled the new map with other Democrats who were on a defunct bipartisan congressional redistricting committee, said the changes reflect additional feedback they’ve received, particularly from Mesa County residents who asked not to be in the same district as Boulder.

Heath, however, said he wouldn’t engage in the same name-calling as McNulty, saying it won’t further the conversation.

“We are not saying this is the end-all be-all, but we’ve drawn it in a way that I think gives us a better chance for a compromise,” Heath said. “Nothing’s perfect, and we’re not saying this is perfect. It’s competitive … and will form the basis for an ongoing conversation. There’s lots of tweaking that has to be done, that can be done, and I don’t want to jeopardize that conversation.”

Under the Democrats’ new map, three of the state’s seven congressional districts favor unaffiliated voters over Democrats and Republicans, while three others have a majority of GOP voters. Only one, the 1st Congressional District that includes all of Denver, favors Democrats.


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