State Watch

Colorado remap plan creates new competitive district


A new U.S. House district awarded to Colorado after a decade of rapid growth will set Democrats and Republicans up for a competitive showdown in the northern suburbs of Denver after the state’s redistricting commission came to an agreement on final map lines late Tuesday.

Commissioners voted 11-1 to approve the district lines, sending the congressional district map lines to the state Supreme Court for final review and almost certain ratification.

The maps are likely to shore up Colorado’s seven members of Congress. Only two — Reps. Lauren Boebert (R) and Ed Perlmutter (D) — would hold districts in which the opposite party came within an average of 10 points of winning one of eight elections for statewide office that the commission used to gauge partisan composition.

But the new 8th district is narrowly divided between the two parties, with a heavily Hispanic influence that could open the door for a minority member of Congress. 

The proposed district would travel north from Denver through Thornton to Greeley in Weld County, taking in a small piece of Loveland to the west.

The district is the only one of eight in which both parties have won one of the statewide elections the commission used to judge competitiveness. The district voted for Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by a 1.7 percentage point margin in 2016, but it favored Sen. Michael Bennet (D) over El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn (R) in the same election.

In another Senate contest four years later, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) won the district by 1.7 percentage points over Sen. Cory Gardner (R); Hickenlooper beat Gardner by 9 points statewide.

The commission did not include the results of the 2020 presidential contest in their calculations.

The new seat will be the most heavily Hispanic in Colorado, a state in which a little over one in five residents is of Hispanic origin. The district’s population is just over 38 percent Hispanic, according to the Commission’s calculations, and 51.7 percent of residents are non-Hispanic white.

Hispanic politicians in Colorado had hoped for a district that would give them the opportunity to send a member to Congress. State Rep. Yadera Caraveo (D) has already said she will run for the new seat, and state Sen. Dominic Moreno (D) is said to be considering a bid as well. Both the Democratic and Republican fields are likely to grow now that the district lines are finalized.

Colorado Republicans said they were pleased with the results the commissioners settled on.

“We want to thank all twelve members of the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission for their hard work and many sacrifices over the past few months. We are pleased that the process approved by Colorado voters was successful and that the commission was able to overwhelmingly agree on a competitive map. Colorado Republicans look forward to fighting for every vote in all 64 counties in 2022,” Kristi Burton Brown, chair of the Colorado Republican Party, said in an emailed statement.

The Colorado Democratic Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Colorado last sent a Hispanic member to Washington in 2008, when Rep. John Salazar (D) won reelection for the final time in what is now Boebert’s district.

Colorado added three-quarters of a million residents over the last decade, according to census figures, about 50,000 more people than the 721,715 residents needed to add a new district. Only four other states — Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Texas — grew at a faster rate over the decade.

That growth was concentrated in Broomfield and Weld counties, the heart of the new district. Greeley was among the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. 

At the same time, Denver was one of only about a dozen cities to add more than 100,000 new residents over the last decade, meaning the Denver-based districts held by Reps. Diana DeGette (D) and Jason Crow (D) needed to shrink geographically to adhere to population requirements.

Colorado’s politics have changed markedly over the last decade as well. After George W. Bush carried the state twice, Democrats have won Colorado’s electoral votes four consecutive times. Gardner was the only Republican to win a U.S. Senate seat there, in 2014, since Sen. Wayne Allard (R) won reelection in 2002. The state has not elected a Republican governor since Bill Owens won a second term in 2002.

At the beginning of the last decade, Republicans held four of the state’s seven congressional districts. Rapid growth in the suburbs flipped a district south and east of Denver in 2018, when Crow beat then-Rep. Mike Coffman (R), who is now the mayor of Aurora.


Tags Bill Owens Colorado Cory Gardner Denver Diana DeGette Donald Trump Ed Perlmutter Hillary Clinton Jason Crow John Hickenlooper Lauren Boebert Michael Bennet Mike Coffman Redistricting
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