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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