Oct 7, 2022 - Politics

Political Pulse: Redistricting leads lawmakers to scramble

Illustration of Colorado with abstract political districts changing their shapes.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Redistricting shifted political boundaries and moved state lawmakers out of their previous districts.

  • Now, questions are arising about where those lawmakers live and whether they can legally hold their legislative seats.

Why it matters: Colorado legally mandates that lawmakers live in their districts β€” at their "primary home" β€” for at least a year before running for office.

State of play: At least five lawmakers seeking election or currently in office are facing questions about discrepancies on where they vote and live, according to multiple media reports.

  • Democratic state Sen. Pete Lee is registered to vote in a small home owned by his stepdaughter, but admitted to spending the night with his wife who lives outside the district.
  • Republican state Sen. Dennis Hisey is registered to vote at a Colorado Springs home owned by his son in District 11, but the lawmaker spends much of his time at a home he owns with his wife in Fountain, in his current District 12. He was drawn into a district occupied by a current lawmaker whose term goes to early 2025.
  • Democratic state Rep. Kyle Mullica moved to his mother's home in Federal Heights to run for a state Senate seat before his family purchased a home in District 24.
  • Democratic state Rep. Tracey Bernett moved to an apartment in Louisville five days before the deadline after her Longmont home was moved into a GOP-leaning district.
  • Democratic state Rep. Donald Valdez listed his address at a home owned by his wife in Pueblo West, but he was registered to vote at his parents' house in Conejos County, which is his district.
  • Republican state Sen. Bob Rankin is registered to vote at a home in Carbondale that he hasn't owned for five years. He and his wife, a state Board of Education member, bought a condo in Denver shortly after the sale.

Threat level: In August, El Paso County prosecutors charged Lee, a prominent committee chairman, with a felony for allegedly providing false information about where he lives. Lee is fighting the charge.

Of note: Two others, Democratic state Rep. Donald Valdez and Republican state Rep. Matt Soper, faced residency questions in the past but avoided being removed from office.

The bottom line: When redistricting shifts district lines, lawmakers are forced to decide whether to move, run against a colleague or retire.

πŸ—³ Political Pulse is a regular feature from Axios Denver to help you catch up quick on Colorado politics.


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