Two prominent Latino groups have released proposed redistricting maps for Colorado, further complicating a process that could have a dramatic effect on the partisan makeup of the state's congressional delegation.
The Colorado state legislature was unable to come to a consensus on a new map earlier this year — Republicans hold the state House, while Democrats control the Senate and governor's mansion — so the redistricting fight has been thrown to the courts. Each party has submitted a new set of proposed districts, and outside interest groups now have the opportunity to submit proposals.
Courts are traditionally sensitive to civil-rights groups in redistricting battles, giving the Latino Forum and Colorado Hispanic Bar Association — the two groups who filed a proposal Friday — particular clout in the fight.
The map would move the San Luis Valley and Pubelo areas out of the 4th congressional district, while Larimer County — one of Colorado's most politically active, and politically independent, areas — would be incorporated into the liberal Boulder district. Practically, those shifts would likely reduce Democratic chances against incumbent freshman Rep. Cory Gardner, who won his seat from a Democrat in the tea party takeover of 2010, but squeeze Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, who currently represents Colorado Springs, into a more competitive district.
Republican plans would largely keep the current districts intact; the GOP controls four of Colorado's seven congressional districts. Democrats have proposed a more dramatic shift that would move more than a third of Colorado's population into new districts. Under their plan, Republican Rep. Mike Coffman's safe seat in the Denver suburbs would become a toss-up.
Colorado remains a true swing state in the country, with a rapidly changing population and eclectic mix of citizens aligned outside traditional political categories. Because of its swing-state status — and the relatively high turnover of Colorado's congressional districts — even modest changes to the map could have significant electoral consequences.
Congressional boundaries must be redrawn every 10 years to reflect population shifts measured by the U.S. Census.
Courts weigh battling Colorado redistricting plans
By Justin Sink - 09/02/11 08:27 PM EDT