VIDEO: Battle of maps continues: Western Slope whole in new Democratic map

The battle of the maps continues under the Capitol dome as Democrats released a new redistricting map today that they said is a compromise that is still open to change as the deadline quickly approaches for the General Assembly to provide the state with new lines of congressional representation.

A new redistricting map released by the Democrats today created competitive districts and leaves the Western slope to be legislated by one congressional Representative, a huge change from their past map that cut the area in two. Republican Speaker of the House Frank McNulty said the map was an improvement but would not bring Republicans to the table.

“This is a state that is made up of approximately one third Democrats, one third Republicans and one third unaffiliated voters,” Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, said in the press conference. “We argue that all parties should be considered and we have created a map that has one Democratic, one Republican and five competitive districts.”

Democrats issued their map to replace one introduced last week after what they said were compromises taking place up till just before Republicans released their House map on Tuesday. They said their new map represents a number of Republican ideas to keep communities of interest whole whenever possible while ensuring competitive districts.

Video of the Democratic news conference here:

“Democrats have been working with Republicans on a compromise map that is responsive to the issues raised by the public while creating and maintaining competitive districts,” Heath said.

The Democratic map bears similarities to a map introduced yesterday by Republicans, but cuts the Eastern Plains in two parts–a feature McNulty said was unacceptable. He said that the maps sold out the South East portion of the state by giving the area to the 5th congressional district. The area is currently Represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner and, under the Democratic map, would be represented by Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn.

“I am interested to see where my colleagues stand on this map. First [Democrats] sold out Pueblo, now that they have put the 3rd CD back together, they have sold out the lower Arkansas Valley,” McNulty said upon seeing the new maps.

The Democratic map uses an expansion of CD 2 to create competitive districts. It keeps the Western Slope in the 3rd CD by expanding CD 2, which includes Boulder County south to Fremont County, while keeping Grand Junction in the Western Slope. In addition, the new map splits the Eastern Plains in two parts but gives the southern portion of the plains, currently in the 4th CD, to the 5th CD, which includes Colorado Springs. Pueblo would remain in the 3rd CD.

The Democratic map appears to give Republicans the advantage in most congressional districts. Heath said, Republicans were likely to win in five of the seven districts under the Republican map, and said Democrats were not willing to create districts that gave people “seats for life.”

CD 1 and CD 5 would remain Republican strongholds as they did in the Republican map issued yesterday. However, in districts 2, 3, 4,  6, and 7, there are single digit differences in voter registration between Democrats and Republicans, with considerable Republican leads in 3 of those 5 competitive districts. Unaffiliated voters also factor in to the make-up of the maps and show controlling margins in CD 2, 4, 6 and 7, though in some cases that lead is slight.

Democrats acquiesced to Republican and Western Slope voices that said they were unwilling to split the Western Slope. In addition, Democrats gave Republicans a whole Larimer county and placed Greenwood Village and Arapahoe County in the 6th CD, a move that splits the city of Aurora.

Both Republicans and Democrats said they were following state protocol when it came to redrawing the district maps. However, McNulty said that he was waiting until Democrats came with a map that was fair for Colorado, a statement that he qualified by explaining, “This is all a value judgment.”

Much like in the budgeting process, discussions and negotiations continue to go on behind closed doors both in the Capitol and around the state while lawmakers try to work out their final lines in the sand.

Both bills will be heard tomorrow in committee. Democrats announced their bill would be heard at 3 p.m. to allow those testifying at the Republican bill, scheduled at 2 p.m., to testify on both maps.

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