Jun 24, 2021 - News
Initial map of Colorado congressional districts favors GOP
A preliminary map of Colorado's new congressional districts on a yellow background.
Courtesy of Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions

The first sketch of Colorado's new congressional districts locates the new eighth seat in the northern Denver suburbs, concentrating the state's political power in the metro area.

Why it matters: The preliminary map released Wednesday shuffles the political landscape in Colorado and gives Republicans a shot at flipping a seat to even the congressional delegation at a 4-4 split.

  • Democrats currently hold a 4-3 advantage over Republicans.

What's happening: The new 8th District — a byproduct of significant growth in the Denver area — would include the fast-growing suburbs: Arvada, Westminster, Broomfield, Thornton and Brighton.

  • The partisan breakdown favors Democrats, with voters split 30% Democrat, 23% Republican and 45% unaffiliated with a major party.

What they're saying: "We recognize this was the fastest-growing area of the state,” Jeremiah Barry, a legislative attorney advising the redistricting commissions, told the Colorado Sun. “The second [reason] was a recognition that although nearly 30% of the population of the state are Hispanics, none of the current seven districts are represented by a Hispanic.”

The intrigue: The current 7th District, represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, would lose those suburbs and gain neighborhoods in conservative Douglas County, giving it a redder tint for the 2022 election and making it a possible GOP pickup opportunity.

Context: Nonpartisan legislative staffers drew the initial edition of the map under the state's new independent redistricting process approved by voters in 2018.

  • It's a major step in a months-long process, but the map will change with input from an appointed board.
  • The political boundaries are based on preliminary population data because the decennial census figures are delayed. Colorado is the first state to release a 2022 map.

Be smart: In prior reapportionment, the state Legislature, which is currently controlled by Democrats, drew the maps.

Details: Other changes reshape existing districts but don't substantially change the political outlook.

  • The 1st District would now only include the city and county of Denver and be a Democratic stronghold.
  • The 2nd District would focus on Boulder and northern Colorado, losing some mountain communities but staying Democratic.
  • The 3rd District would add territory, including Eagle, Summit and Grand counties, as well as some of western Boulder County, but still favor Republicans.
  • The 4th District covering the conservative Eastern Plains would gain the San Luis Valley and Pueblo County, which was previously in the 3rd District.
  • The 5th District would dial back to just conservative El Paso County, jettisoning its current counties to the West.
  • The 6th District would lose some turf on the northern side to the new district but still cover Aurora and Littleton.

What they're saying: Morgan Carroll, the chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, said in a statement that the new plan "seems to put a thumb on the scale for Republicans" but added that it's "too soon to know" what it means.

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