Colorado’s nonpartisan redistricting commission has proposed a congressional map that would create a new swing seat in the northern Denver suburbs and lump conservative firebrand Rep. Lauren Boebert into a Boulder-based solidly Democratic seat currently held by liberal Rep. Joe Neguse.
The proposal from the commission staff on Friday would rearrange the political geography as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process. It’s the first test of the commission model approved by voters in 2018. Staff had released a possible congressional map in June, but Friday’s was its first drawn off the official, newly released Census data that is required to be used for redistricting.
The map will be followed by a series of hearings, along with a map of state legislative districts. Both may change significantly in the weeks to come, as the commission races to meet an end-of-the-month deadline to approve maps.
The congressional map keeps the four Democratic seats relatively safe, as well as preserving three as solidly Republican. It would add a new swing seat — the 8th Congressional District — running from Adams County to Greeley, an area that voted Democratic by 1.9 percentage points in last year’s Senate election.
That could make the final breakdown of the state’s congressional districts 4-4, an underwhelming split for Democrats in a state they won by 13 points in last year’s presidential election.
Still, Democrats see the map as an improvement over the initial map, which had a similar partisan division. This one splits the conservative Western Slope into two separate districts. Grand Junction and below stay in the 3rd Congressional District, now stretching out to the southeastern plains, Pueblo and Huerfano County.
Boebert, a Republican, represents that district, but her home in Garfield County would now go into a reshaped 2nd Congressional District — represented by Neguse, a Democrat — that stretches to the Wyoming border with most of its population in the liberal bastions of Boulder and Fort Collins.
“The new process is designed to gather public comment to improve upon the preliminary plan and, at first blush, this map seems to have moved in that direction,” said Curtis Hubbard, a Democratic strategist.
Boebert has the option to move south back into her district or even run for her seat there from her home next door if she didn’t want to face the liberal voters of the new district.
Republicans were steamed at how the proposal divides rural Colorado, but acknowledged that, from a partisan position, they are in decent shape.
“As a Coloradan, I hate the map,” said former State Sen. Greg Brophy, who lives in Wray. “As a Republican, it could be a lot worse.”
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