Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Senator Heath says Republican redistricting map better not rig the game again

Last week Republicans admitted to deliberately drawing districts to give their party an unfair political advantage

DENVER— Today, Colorado House Republicans announced they will introduce a congressional redistricting map. This follows their admission last week that they’d “deliberately tweaked” maps to favor the Republican Party in future elections. The admission was reported in the Denver Post in a story entitled “GOP admits skewing Colorado redistricting maps.” This revelation came even after legislators had formed an historic bipartisan redistricting committee to take on the constitutionally mandated task of redrawing Colorado’s congressional lines. Legislators are charged with redistricting every 10 years following the U.S. Census.

On the map to be introduced today, Redistricting Committee Co-chair Senator Rollie Heath (D-Boulder) made the following comment:

“We will review this map, but last week, Republicans admitted to deliberately drawing districts to give their party an unfair political advantage and solidify their majority for the next decade. Democrats have expressed our sincere willingness to work with Republicans. Hopefully they’ve created competitive congressional districts and have not tried to rig the game again. Colorado voters deserve fair and competitive congressional districts that allow them to hold their elected representatives accountable.”

On April 28, Senate Democrats introduced a redistricting map to create fair, competitive congressional districts that protect communities of interest in Colorado. Competitive districts are good public policy. A district is competitive when there are a balanced number of Republicans, Independents and Democrats. In a balanced district, a candidate from either party can be elected. Competitive districts allow voters to better hold elected officials accountable. Voter registration in the state shows that Colorado’s electorate does not overwhelmingly favor one party over the other, and nearly one-third of the population isn’t registered with either party at all. That is the reason competitive districts make sense for Colorado.

When the historic joint redistricting committee was introduced, leaders from both parties expressed their intention to negotiate in good faith to create fair and competitive districts. Below are several quotes from Republican leaders and Governor Hickenlooper from that time:

When the Joint Select Committee on Redistricting was announced, then Speaker Designee Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) said, “Colorado voters deserve a fair, open, and transparent process.” (December 16 2010)

When the committee appointments were announced, Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp (R-Littleton) said, “The focus of this joint legislative committee is to ensure districts are competitive and the general public has a voice in this effort.” (December 30, 2010)

In December, Governor Elect John Hickenlooper said, publicly supported the proposed joint legislative effort to redraw Colorado’s congressional districts and strongly supported drawing competitive districts. Governor Hickenlooper was quoted saying, "The more competitive a district is, the more meaningful the vote is to voters." (KUSA, 9 News, December 30, 2010)