Latest congressional map keeps House members apart

Redistricting changes still possible; deadline Sept. 28

Sandra Fish and Thy Vo
The Colorado Sun
Posted 9/17/21

The latest draft of Colorado’s congressional map avoids putting the state’s current U.S. House members into the same district, while creating a sweeping district across most of the Western Slope …

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Latest congressional map keeps House members apart

Redistricting changes still possible; deadline Sept. 28

Posted

The latest draft of Colorado’s congressional map avoids putting the state’s current U.S. House members into the same district, while creating a sweeping district across most of the Western Slope and southern Colorado.

The most heavily populated parts of north Douglas County would stay where they are in the 4th Congressional District. And the biggest cities in Arapahoe County — including Aurora, Centennial, Littleton, Englewood, Greenwood Village and Sheridan — would be in the 6th District, along with the Columbine and Ken Caryl areas of Jefferson County.

The new 8th Congressional District in the north Denver metro region would be nearly 39% Hispanic. It would encompass Northglenn, Thornton, Brighton, Commerce City and Fort Lupton.

And the proposed 7th District, now centered in the north and west metro area, would include much of Jefferson County and stretch to South Park in the central Rocky Mountains.

The new map, released Sept. 15, groups most of the Western Slope and southern Colorado into a single, L-shaped 3rd Congressional District. Northwest high-country counties including Routt, Jackson, Eagle, Summit and Grand are grouped with Larimer and Boulder into a proposed 2nd Congressional District. And the new districts would no longer pit Garfield County Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert against Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse of Lafayette.

The map is the second to be drawn by nonpartisan staff based on 2020 census data, and incorporates input from the public about previous drafts.

Commissioners voted earlier in September to base the latest map on one drawn by Commissioner Martha Coleman, a Democrat from Fort Collins who is a geographer.

The latest map would create three safe Democratic districts, three safe Republican districts and competitive 7th and 8th Congressional Districts, according to a report by nonpartisan legislative staff.

In three districts, the Hispanic population would make up more than a quarter of the total district.

The latest map is markedly different from two previous proposals. Here’s a look at how the districts shape up:

The 1st District centered in Denver remains safe for Democratic U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, with a 57% Democratic advantage

The 2nd District still includes Boulder and Fort Collins, but stretches west to Routt County and includes Summit and most of Eagle County. It also includes Neguse’s home in Lafayette, and would give Democrats a nearly 34% advantage.

The 3rd District stretches from Moffat County in the northwest, south through Mesa and Pitkin counties to Cortez and La Plata counties, then east to Pueblo and Las Animas County. Unlike a map released earlier this month, Boebert’s Silt home remains in the 3rd District, and she’d have a nearly 10% GOP advantage.

The 4th District still includes much of the Eastern Plains, as well as Windsor and much of Douglas County. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Ken Buck of Windsor would have a nearly 27% advantage.

The 5th District includes most of El Paso County, except for some eastern areas that end up in the 4th District. It would remain safe for incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn with a 20% GOP advantage.

The 6th District includes most of Aurora and Arapahoe County, a safe seat for incumbent Rep. Jason Crow, of Centennial, with a 15% Democratic advantage.

The 7th District now includes most of Jefferson County, but also small portions of Adams, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas and El Paso counties as well as all of seven mountain counties. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, of Arvada, would find himself in a potentially competitive district with a 6% Democratic advantage.

The new 8th District includes much of Adams and Weld counties, including Greeley, Thornton, Commerce City and much of Westminster. Democratic state Rep. Yadira Carveo, of Thornton, recently announced plans to run in the district, which has a Democratic advantage of about 4%.

The political competitiveness of the districts is based on an average of election results from eight statewide races between 2016 and 2020. The percentages above represent the difference between the percent of votes cast for a Republican candidate and the percent of votes cast for a Democratic candidate.

There’s disagreement about what constitutes a “competitive district.” While the Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission views an advantage of 8.5% or lower as a competitive district, the congressional commission hasn’t defined a range.

Morgan Carroll, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, disputed the congressional commission’s formula for determining the political competitiveness of a district.

“Measuring competitiveness by focusing on strong years for one party and ignoring 2014 — which was a strong year for the other party — is simply wrong,” Carroll said in a statement. “As a result, this could very likely end up a 4-4 map after the midterms, which is in no way reflective of Colorado voters.”

Currently, four of Colorado’s seven U.S. House members are Democrats. Members of Congress don’t need to live in the district they represent.

A third congressional map drawn by staff may be released Sept. 23, if the commission doesn’t adopt a plan before then. The commission must adopt a map by Sept. 28 to submit to the Colorado Supreme Court by Oct. 1.

Mark Harden of Colorado Community Media contributed.

This story is from The Colorado Sun, a journalist-owned news outlet based in Denver and covering the state. For more, and to support The Colorado Sun, visit coloradosun.com. The Colorado Sun is a partner in the Colorado News Conservancy, owner of Colorado Community Media.

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