Oct 14, 2021 - News
Colorado redistricting gives Democrats edge in state Legislature
Data: Colorado Sun; Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

The General Assembly appears poised to remain in Democratic hands for years to come.

Driving the news: The Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission created new state House and Senate districts this week that give the Democrats the easiest path to power, the Colorado Sun reports.

State of play: The maps include nearly 10 competitive seats in both the House and Senate, but Democrats don't need to win them to claim the majority in each chamber.

  • In the House, Democrats need to take all 30 safe districts and just three of the six seats that lean in their direction.
  • In the Senate, the party needs to succeed in all 15 safe seats and the three that favor them.

Yes, but: The intrigue will come in the districts that include multiple incumbent lawmakers, a situation that may force intraparty battles.

In the Senate, four districts include two current lawmakers.

  • Democratic Sens. Brittany Pettersen and Jessie Danielson — both political strategists and friends — are now in the same Jefferson County district and would need to run against each other for re-election in 2022.
  • Republican Sens. Dennis Hisey of Fountain and Don Coram of Montrose would both get pushed from their jobs. They are now in districts represented respectively by fellow GOP Sens. Bob Gardner and Bob Rankin, who were just re-elected and must serve the remainder of their terms.

In the House, conflicts abound.

  • Democratic state Reps. Lisa Cutter and Kerry Tipper are now in the same Jefferson County district.
  • Incumbent Republican lawmakers could face re-election battles against each other in two districts.
  • One district would feature a match-up between current Democratic Rep. Tracey Bennett of Longmont and Republican Rep. Dan Woog of Erie.

Context: The new maps, built from 2020 census numbers, came after hours of debate Monday and Tuesday among the four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated voters appointed to the redistricting panel.

  • The discussion became testy and appeared headed toward a stalemate at times, but the Senate map found unanimous agreement and the House boundaries were approved with an 11-1 vote.

What's next: The state legislative maps now go to the Colorado Supreme Court for approval and legal challenges are expected. The deadline for final maps is Dec. 29.

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