Iowa redistricting proposal sets up two intraparty primaries in 2012

Iowa's nonpartisan redistricting commission proposed a new map Thursday that would pit two sets of incumbents against one another in 2012, even though the state is only shedding a single Congressional seat.

The proposed map draws two incumbent Republicans and two incumbent Democrats into newly drawn districts, setting up the potential for two intraparty primary fights next year.  

The plan is just the first proposal, but some members of the state's congressional delegation are sure to take issue with it.

Republican Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham are drawn together in the new map, while Democratic Reps. Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley would also have to fight for a single district.

King told IowaPolitics.com that he's not gaming out any 2012 plans until it's clear state lawmakers could approve the new map.

"It doesn't look like anything I would have drawn," said King, who is widely popular among conservatives in his district and around the nation. "Of all the ways you could draw a map, it's hard to configure one that would put us in the same district, but they managed to do that."

King said he hasn't yet spoken with Latham and said until and unless it becomes clear that the state legislature will approve the new map, "there's no reason to have a discussion."

The early expectation is that the plan will meet with significant Republican opposition given that Latham and King would have to battle it out in a GOP primary.

The proposed map leaves the state's new 2nd district as an open seat, which could pave the way for Christie Vilsack, the state's former first lady, who has hinted at a 2012 run for Congress.

The map will have to be voted on by the state legislature and either accepted or rejected — amending the map is not an option. According to The Associated Press, the state's redistricting commission would have 35 days to draw up a secondary plan if the one proposed Thursday is rejected by state lawmakers.
 
Even if the state legislature approves the plan, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad could veto it.