Democrats’ redistricting efforts won’t result in election victory

These seem to be the final days for the redistricting and reapportionment battles and none too soon, as candidates would like to know who they’re supposed to represent.

Redistricting refers to the realignment of federal congressional districts based on the latest census data and reapportionment is the term used for the process in state House and Senate districts. This is important to know: If you’d like to not get invited to a lot of holiday parties, you can correct people about the misuse of the terms and go into an explanation of why they’re different. People love that.

What’s always reassuring during the holidays is a sense of tradition and, in deciding which political party’s version for the new districts should be used, the state Supreme Court has followed its long tradition of siding with the Democrats. This is the legacy of mostly Democratic governors over the last 30 years and their appointments to that court.

It doesn’t mean they’re not otherwise good judges. It’s just that when you start getting into areas that involve fuzzy definitions and political philosophy, like redistricting and the Taxpayers Bill Of Rights, it’s hard not to have beliefs that influence your decision.

The Legislature and the courts when they adopt such things are supposed to take into account terms like “communities of interest,” which is maybe more easily defined by the things that it’s not, like trying to substitute the word “competitive,” when talking about district boundaries and their resulting population.

Democrats have been using this term as shorthand for “something we think we can win” for a while. But it seems competitive only in this context: It translates into “keeping communities that have common interests and backgrounds together only when their political registration is favorable to your side.”

The concerning thing about this is that keeping districts competitive is not the purpose of redrawing congressional or state districts and it certainly doesn’t appear in the federal or state constitutions, much less statute.

Drawing districts to benefit yourself is hardly a new idea. The term we use for it, “gerrymander,” comes from a Massachusetts district drawn in 1812 that was so bizarre it looked like a long necked salamander. Since Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed the law creating the district, the Boston Gazette termed it a “Gerrymander.” In a lesson to be learned for our modern lizard district enthusiasts, Gov. Gerry and his party lost the election.

This, for the most part, is going to happen in 2012 when, despite legislative Democrats’ map-drawing shenanigans, allowing voters to register with a note from their mom and suing the Secretary of State until they’re blue in the face — Colorado will vote mostly Republican.

On the federal side, Congressman Cory Gardner will win easily in the 4th Congressional District. Scott Tipton will win in our own 3rd Congressional District relatively easily unless Democrats come up with a better candidate than hapless Pueblo Rep. Sal Pace, no matter how many emails I get from his campaign full of Washington talking points and describing how many miles he’s put on his pickup (reminds me of Janet Reno’s truck in her losing Senate campaign).

For Pace, it’s a little late to discover the Western Slope, as he didn’t seem a big fan when he was the Pueblo district manager for former Congressman John Salazar. The fact that he has a reputation of being Super Glued to union interests isn’t helpful either.

Democrat Diana Degette will win again in the 1st Congressional District in downtown Denver, and it won’t matter whether she is alive or living in another state. Jared Polis of Boulder will win again in the 2nd Congressional District because, well, it’s Boulder.

Despite the only major change being in Republican Mike Coffman’s 6th Congressional District, smart money bets he wins without a lot of trouble.

Same with Democrat Earl Perlmutter in the 5th and Republican Doug Lamborn in the 7th.

In the state House and Senate districts, I’m guessing Republicans pick up both House and Senate seats.

The districts themselves may still need work, as the original map submitted by the reapportionment commission eliminated a Republican senate seat, leaving those folks without representation for two years.

Now that’s a competitive seat.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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