“The commission developed a 4-4 card for some reason – a 4-4 card in a state, which Biden won with 13.5 [points] and Hickenlooper won when he was 10, “said Craig Hughes, a Democratic strategist from Colorado.” This is as good a card as Republicans in many ways can hope. “
While Democrats are largely unhappy with the proposed card, they aren’t sure how much it could change in the months ahead. This is the first time a commission has drawn up the maps and it will require feedback from voters across the state.
Also, the months of lag in the census data required for redistribution has slowed the crawling process in most states, and Colorado only made this map based on estimates. It will need to be updated when the final numbers are in in the summer.
The member hardest hit by the new proposal is likely Democratic MP Ed Perlmutter, whose current 7th district included part of GOP-oriented Douglas County south of Denver. Voter registration numbers released by the commission suggest that Republicans would have a slight party advantage there.
Thanks to its relatively rapid population growth, the state is gaining an eighth congressional district, and the Commission has relocated that seat to the northern suburbs of Denver. This district has a significant Latino population and Hispanic community groups endorsed the commission for its establishment.
In a statement, Perlmutter praised the location of the new district, but did not specify the seat for which he would run. According to a spokesman, he currently lives in the 7th district.
“I support the drawing of the new 8th in the North Metro area as specifically outlined in the proposed Hispanic Chamber of Commerce map,” said Perlmutter. “We expect the preliminary map to change over time and we hope that the commissioners will focus on issues of legislative interest and interest groups as the Constitution requires.”
The Colorado Hispanic Chamber of Commerce proposed to the commission a map with a similarly located 8th district – but, according to their version, Mother of Pearl’s 7th district would not have been as competitive.
However, this is not the final card. The full population data required for this will not be released until mid-August and the Commission held several meetings over the summer to collect opinions.
“Really, the most important part of this is getting community feedback on what the commission is going to do and listening to interest groups,” said Democratic MP Jason Crow on Wednesday. “We are only at the beginning.”
Among the other changes: GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert’s eastern district loses the buzzing city of Pueblo to Rep. Ken Buck, but grabs the ski town of Vail and neighboring Summit County. This benefits her top challenger, Democrat Kerry Donovan, who lives in Vail.
The district of GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn is more centered around El Paso County, but remains red. And Crow, who won his seat in 2018 through the ousting of Republican Mike Coffman, keeps the city of Aurora, where Coffman is now mayor.
The card was released shortly before the House of Representatives convened on Wednesday afternoon. When POLITICO spoke up, many members of the Colorado delegation said they had little time to digest the card.
“Looks like they’re sticking Denver together, which is great because that’s the law,” said Diana DeGette, Democratic MP, who represents the capital. “But I haven’t really looked at the rest of the seats to see what it looks like.”
While the Colorado map is the first official proposal to be released publicly this year, other map designs are floating around behind the scenes in other states – including Illinois, where Democrats are expected to play their advantage and create districts that do one or two could wipe out existing GOP seats.
The 12-person Colorado commission dates back to a bipartisan agreement in 2018. The Colorado Democratic House of State and the Republican Senate have voted to put an amendment on the ballot paper to remove the legislature’s role in redistribution. Voters overwhelmingly supported the proposal in the fall.
The commission has eight party members, four from each major party, and another four members who are not affiliated. To waive a card, eight of the 12 members must approve it, including two of the unaffiliated members. Despite the delay in census data, the commission had to create a proposed card this month to allow for a longer period of public comment – the commission must hold at least 21 public hearings – before the state Supreme Court approves the card in December.
The change also set specific criteria for the group to consider when creating a new card. You cannot create a map “created to protect one or more members or candidates for Congress or a political party”. However, the commissioners should take into account interest groups, current political subdivisions such as counties and cities, and competitiveness.
Something The Democrats claimed Wednesday that the new card did not meet the required standards.
“According to their own statements, the preliminary plan of the staff has overlooked interest groups, which is a constitutionally required trade-off,” said Democratic strategist Curtis Hubbard. “In creating a map dividing Districts 4-4 between the parties, they also overlooked the political reality of our blue state.”