Redistricting battle continues

Senate Dems introduce their version of map, to scorn of Republicans

DENVER — Senate Democrats made good on a promise to introduce their own bill defining how the state’s congressional districts should look.

A proposed map introduced into the Colorado Senate late Thursday is one of several that Democrats unveiled earlier this month to a 10-member committee on redistricting that draws the state’s seven districts much different than they look today.

Like the others, the map divides the Western Slope, putting Mesa, Delta and Garfield counties into the 2nd Congressional District with Boulder and Larimer counties, and it links Montrose with Denver’s southern environs.

It was introduced by Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, and the five other Democratic members of the Joint Select Committee on Redistricting, including Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village.

Republican lawmakers repeated their criticism of the Democrat’s map, saying it’s far too radical for Colorado voters to accept.

“Communities of interest matter, and Senator Heath’s proposal intentionally divides them for partisan gain,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, R-Littleton. “By completely disregarding the work of the redistricting committee and the overwhelming organic testimony it gathered, Senator Heath is ensuring the public interest will be ignored and replaced with proposals drawn in secret.”

Heath, however, said Republicans did exactly the same thing, saying the five GOP lawmakers on the committee proposed maps drawn in secret by their party’s leaders to favor Republicans.

In a Thursday Denver Post story, Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, said his party purposely drew maps that favored GOP voters as a way of giving the party a better negotiating position with Democrats.

Heath said that admission was contrary to earlier claims from Brophy and others on the committee that Republicans had drawn maps to maintain communities of interest similar to those in the current congressional districts.

“Throughout this process, the Republicans have said, ‘We’re just tweaking’ these maps a little bit,” Heath said. “Now it’s clear that those tweaks were to solidify their existing majority. The maps we’ve presented will change our existing congressional district lines, but they do so to create districts that are competitive, districts that will keep Colorado from having to live with congressmen or congresswomen for life.”

The measure, Senate Bill 268, will be heard in the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, which Heath chairs. A hearing date has not been set.

It is unknown whether five Republican members of the now-defunct redistricting committee will introduce a map of their own.


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