Nerd alert: The new congressional map has dropped: click here to take a look.
One big takeaway: A reconfigured 2nd Congressional District would favor Democrats and be home to two incumbents, Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, of Lafayette, and Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Garfield County.
We’ll follow up on Tuesday after the holiday weekend, but here are some quick observations:
- District 1: Denver continues to comprise most of this district, with a bit of Arapahoe County mixed in. It would continue to be a safe Democratic district for U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette.
- District 2: This district includes much of Boulder and Larimer counties and even part of Weld County, then stretches west to the Utah border. It would have a Hispanic population of nearly 28%.
- District 3: Pueblo and Mesa counties dominate this district, which also includes Durango, the San Luis Valley and Eagle and Pitkin counties. The Hispanic population is 26%. No incumbent lives in the district.
- District 4: Fort Collins and Douglas County are the major population centers of the district, which would still stretch all along the eastern border of the state. Windsor, where incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Ken Buck lives, isn’t included in the redrawn district. But candidates don’t have to live in the district they run in.
- District 5: El Paso County is the sole county in this district represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs
- District 6: Arapahoe County makes up this district, with slices of Adams, Douglas and Jefferson counties. Democrat U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, of Centennial, represents the district.
- District 7: Jefferson County dominates this district, but it also spreads southwest to several mountain counties including Fremont, Park, Teller, Chaffee and more. Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, of Arvada, represents the district.
- District 8: The new district, the result of Colorado’s booming population growth, is centered in Adams and Weld counties, with slivers of Denver and Larimer County. It would be 38% Hispanic.
This is the first of three maps that will be drawn by nonpartisan staff based on the 2020 census data, though the commission could approve this plan if there are eight of 12 votes for it. But expect the process to move pretty fast after this point. After commissioners get a presentation on Monday at 6 p.m., they’ll immediately start a series of public hearings that will run through the end of this week (see more below).
While we’re all digesting, send us your questions and comments on the new proposal.
COMPETITIVENESS: How do these districts shake out for each political party?
Here’s what redistricting staff’s analysis showed, based on an average of results from eight statewide elections:
(Negative numbers mean a Democrat won, while positive numbers mean a Republican won.)
- District 1: A safe Democratic seat, -56%
- District 2: A safe Democratic seat, -22.4%
- District 3: A competitive seat with a slight edge for Republicans, 5.5%
- District 4: A safe Republican seat, 15.6%
- District 5: A safe Republican seat, 20.3%
- District 6: A safe Democratic seat, -15.6%
- District 7: A competitive seat with a slight edge for Democrats, -5.2%
- District 8: A competitive seat, -1.5%
You can also click here to see voter registration for each of the proposed districts.
SOUTHERN COLORADO: Congressional commissioners have been debating for weeks whether to adopt requirements for a new district centered on southern Colorado, but couldn’t come to an agreement this week.
Some commissioners are against the idea entirely, and even among supporters there’s a lot of disagreement about the specific boundaries of such a district. That includes concerns that a southern district would be too sprawling, or create problems in how districts in other parts of the state will be drawn.
The new map released Friday includes a southern district, but nonpartisan staff noted in a memo that it’s up to commissioners to resolve that division before staff draws a final map.
“By submitting this First Congressional Staff Plan, nonpartisan staff is not recommending or suggesting that the Congressional Commission approve a congressional redistricting plan with a largely southern district,” according to the memo. “Again, that is a choice for the Congressional Commission to make.”
Remember, staff still have two more maps to draw, and commissioners could ultimately choose to reject those maps entirely, draw their own or adopt a map drawn by another party. The final decision is in their hands.
Welcome to Remapping Colorado 2021, a pop-up newsletter bringing you the latest on redistricting. If you’re reading this newsletter but not signed up for it, here’s how to get it sent directly to your email inbox. You can send feedback and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this form.
Public hearings: Your opportunities to weigh in on the draft map
There are four opportunities to give feedback on the maps to the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission. People may attend in person at the locations listed below, or join virtually. Commissioners will be participating entirely online.
The in-person locations are aimed at allowing people with limited or no internet access to testify, said Jessika Shipley, staff director to the commission, with the meetings mostly virtual because of increasing coronavirus cases.
- 6 – 9 p.m. Tuesday for residents of the 1st Congressional District at the state Capitol or via Zoom
- 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Wednesday for residents of the 4th and 5th districts via Zoom, at the Limon Community Center or the Fountain Library
- 1 – 4 p.m. Thursday for residents of the 2nd and 3rd districts via Zoom, at the Eagle Community Center or the Grand Lake Center
- 9 a.m. to noon Friday for residents of the 6th and 7th districts via Zoom, at the Thornton Community Center or the Community College of Aurora
People may continue to offer written comments online. The commission will approve a final congressional map by Sept. 28, then submit it to the Colorado Supreme Court.
State House & Senate maps set to drop Sept. 13
While you’re digesting the new congressional map, don’t forget: the legislative maps are next. State House and Senate maps will be released on Sept. 13, followed by a presentation at noon Sept. 14 to the Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission.
Then, it’s on to public hearings:
- 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17
- 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18
- 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18
The legislative commission also voted Friday, on a 9-3 vote, to adopt a policy for competitiveness that averages the results of eight statewide races between 2016 and 2020, with a maximum differential of 8.5% between Republican and Democratic candidates in each district.
Maps, maps and more maps
Several interest groups offered their own ideas about where the state’s eight U.S. House districts should be, based on the recent release of detailed 2020 census data. The proposals are, so to speak, all over the map.
The graphic above shows some of the radical differences between the staff plan introduced late Friday, the preliminary staff map issued in June and maps proposed recently by Colorado Common Cause; the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Group and the League of United Latin American Citizens.
As we mentioned in our last Remapping 2021 newsletter, these maps vary dramatically not only from each other, but from the makeup of the current districts. Some of the proposals endanger incumbents, but the constitutional amendments that created the independent commissions specifically mandate that elected officials and candidates shouldn’t be protected or considered.
Headlines: What else you should be reading
>> LISTEN UP: Purplish, a podcast by Colorado Public Radio about politics, will launch its sixth season this month about redistricting. Listen to the first episode in the series or subscribe by clicking here.
>> DENVER: In some neighborhoods of Denver’s Northside, populations of people who identify as Hispanic are decreasing by double-digits. Denverite looks at how political representation of those districts, once the center of a Chicano political movement, could change with gentrification and new demographics.
>> TROUBLE IN TEXAS: Two Democratic Texas state senators want state courts to redraw new political maps, saying the state constitution requires the maps to be drawn in the first “regular” session after census data is released. That doesn’t happen until 2023.
>> COMPARE COLORADO: The Washington Post has a cool interactive comparing how various states are handling congressional redistricting in 2021. Colorado is one of seven states where independent commissions are drawing new districts.
>> DRAW YOUR OWN MAPS: As many of you may already know, there are multiple tools out there allowing you to draw your own maps, including one provided by the Colorado commissions. This is the first redistricting cycle where such software is readily available. But as one Utah lawmaker cautioned in this Stateline article, “It’s not as easy as you think.”
Hey, thanks for reading our newsletter. Normally we publish Monday afternoons, but given the release of the new congressional map we figured you might want an early look. Don’t forget to check back in with us Tuesday for a deeper dive into the congressional map, and make sure to sign up for an upcoming public hearing if you want to participate.
And don’t freak out — it’s the first of at least three maps!
—Thy and Fish