Colorado Maps Completed

Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions’ Final Approved Congressional Plan

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 1, 2021 — The members of the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions completed their task of sending congressional and state legislative maps to the state Supreme Court at the assigned deadline, with all but one person supporting the final US House product.

The adopted map was based upon the third staff-produced map, with an amendment from Democratic commission member Martha Coleman (2nd CD) in a re-draw that affected Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-Arvada) 7th District and the new 8th CD.

The staff offering became the commission’s working map. The initiative that created the redistricting panels awarded an inordinate amount of power to the professional staff in the event of a commission deadlock, meaning that a two-thirds majority is not achieved. In such a situation, the staff map would then be directly sent to the state Supreme Court at the assigned deadline. The high court has until Dec. 15 to approve the maps now officially in their possession.

The congressional map now features eight seats, since Colorado was awarded a new district in reapportionment. All of the considered maps placed the new seat in a similar location, with the final product featuring a new 8th CD lying north to northeast of Denver, and encompassing the municipal population centers of Thurston, Westminster, and Greeley.

All seven current incumbents receive districts they can win. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) and Joe Neguse (D-Boulder) have the strongest Democratic seats, while Reps. Ken Buck (R-Windsor) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) have the safest Republican districts. Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) sees his 6th District substantially improve, while Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) and Perlmutter have districts that clearly favor their party, but which could yield a degree of competitiveness.

Rep. Boebert’s 3rd CD, or the Western Slope district, remains largely intact with the exception of moving further east along Colorado’s southern border. A great deal of the public input at the various hearings expressed the desire to unite many of the Hispanic and Native American communities in that region.

The changes don’t drastically change the political nature of her district, however. In Donald Trump’s two elections, the former president carried the 3rd by 12 and 6 points, respectively, in 2016 and 2020. The aggregate score on the new CO-3 is R+9. Therefore, the partisan complexion is largely unchanged, despite the addition of some different geography.

The Perlmutter district became the source of most of the ending discussion and change suggestions, because several previous draws made his 7th CD highly competitive as a side effect of adding the 8th District to the desired location. In the end, the Coleman amendment to the 7th and 8th CDs helped both Rep. Perlmutter and the Republicans. The final draw sees the Perlmutter seat expanding to a D+7, much better than the previous maps, but far below the Biden 60 percent district he had in the decade just ended.

The 8th District becomes a swing district. According to the state’s eight-race aggregate that doesn’t include any 2020 results, the 8th is only a D+1, meaning a strong Republican certainly will have a chance to not only compete but win the district.

In the end, the Colorado map will divide as a 4D-3R-1Swing map, which is as good an end result as the GOP could have hoped for in what is now clearly a blue state. Leaving Colorado after the 2020 election with a 4D-4R split would go a long way to supporting the GOP hope of re-capturing the US House majority.

The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission (congressional) featured an even split of four Democrats, four Republicans, and four unaffiliated voters. The final congressional map passed on an 11-1 vote after adopting the Coleman amendment to alter the 7th and 8th District boundaries. The lone opposition vote came from Democratic member Simon Tafoya from the downtown Denver 1st District.

In addition to Colorado completing its redistricting process, Oregon has also enacted new congressional and legislative maps. Maine and Indiana are close to completion, and the first Texas plan has been publicly released.

At this point, among all of these states, incumbent protection is prevalent. All sitting members with the exception of Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) and possibly Perlmutter in Colorado and Texas Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen), receive districts that definitively favor their re-election.

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