Redistricting coup should get the ax
In a bold bit of monkey business, GOP state legislators pushed through new boundaries for the state’s seven congressional districts last week, helping their pals in the process.
The new boundaries strengthen the Republican hold on the 3rd and 7th congressional districts.
Republicans just couldn’t stand the notion of not holding five of the seven districts, or the thin line of victory that gave Republican Bob Beauprez the 7th District seat.
In an apparent “Boundaries for Beauprez” campaign, the redistricting shifted neighborhoods to give Republicans a 27,000-vote advantage in the 7th District, a far more comfortable margin than the 121-vote edge tallied for Beauprez in the 2002 election.
And liberal Pitkin County was shifted from the 3rd District to the 2nd District, making it that much harder for a Democrat to ever capture the 3rd’s Western Slope seat.
Republicans bulldozed the boundaries during the last three days of the session. Democrats could do little but try to stall, and in the end, refuse to vote.
The action allowed no time for public input or scrutiny.
It was clearly a set-up by the Republicans.
Now, the state’s top Democrats have filed suit, and the issue will end up in the same place as it did a year ago, in the hands of a Denver District Court judge.
Republicans may have been justified in calling for definitive legislative action on congressional district boundaries, viewing last year’s court-established boundaries as temporary.
But they should have opened the boundary question early in the session, allowing time for input from citizens from across the state.
Now, with politicians posturing for the 2004 election, it’s urgent that the boundary dispute be resolved. Potential candidates for Congress need to know where they stand – they can’t wait for the 2004 legislative session.
The court should recognize this move as backroom politics and reinstate the boundaries set a year ago.
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