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Colorado independent commission releases preliminary eight-district congressional map

Attorney says, "This should be viewed, very much so, just as a very preliminary plan."
Posted at 5:00 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 22:47:25-04

DENVER – Colorado’s independent redistricting commission released its first preliminary congressional map Tuesday, which puts Colorado’s new 8th congressional district in the northern Denver metro area.

Pueblo would also move from the third to the 4th congressional district, currently represented by Republican Rep. Ken Buck, while the 3rd, represented by Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, would gain Eagle, Summit, Grand and Clear Creek counties, among other changes.

The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission’s staff built the map off preliminary data from the 2019 U.S. Census estimates while the commission staff awaits the final 2020 Census data in August, after which the map will be adjusted.

Jeremiah Barry, an attorney advising the commissions, said staff took into account both population growth and the higher Hispanic population in the area when crafting the new district in the north metro area, and that in order to keep the 4th congressional district more rural, some more-urban counties were split in some places.

Congressional redistricting happens every 10 years after the Census, and this is the first time the nonpartisan commission is drawing the maps after voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 to create the nonpartisan commission.

Barry acknowledged that there will likely be “some significant differences” between the maps because of changes from the preliminary data to the final data.

“This should be viewed, very much so, just as a very preliminary plan just to give the public a map to start to look at so they can identify communities of interest, in particular, they believe should be contained in a district, and tell the commission and staff where those communities are and why they should be contained in a single district,” he said.

Curtis Hubbard, who was a proponent of the ballot measure that created the independent commissions and who is lobbying them, reiterated those sentiments.

“This preliminary plan won’t be informed by final data. It’s preliminary, and I think it’s important for everyone to remember that this is really the start of the process,” Hubbard said. “It’s not anywhere near the finish line.”

In addition to the changes to the 3rd and 4th, the 5th congressional district, currently represented by Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, would lose Teller, Park, Fremont and Chaffee counties and be limited to El Paso County – except for about the southeast quarter of it. The 2nd congressional district, represented by Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse, would lose some of its mountain communities.

The 7th congressional district, currently represented by Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, would shift farther to the south in some spots, to include western Jefferson County, Castle Pines and Castle Rock.

The 6th congressional district, currently represented by Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, would still include Aurora, Greenwood Village, Centennial and Littleton, but some of its northern areas would be included in the 4th.

The 1st congressional district, represented by Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, would include only Denver.

The commission is required by the constitution to weigh seven factors in drawing the map: having as close to equal populations among districts as possible – with the target being 721,714 people; having contiguous districts; complying with the Voting Rights Act of 1965; keeping communities of interest intact; keeping counties, cities and towns whole; keeping the district compact as possible; and maximizing competitive districts.

The Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission is expected to release its preliminary state House and Senate maps on June 29, and both commissions will hold dozens of joint public hearings between July 9 and Aug. 28 to gather reaction and input from the public. Eight of 12 commissioners, including two unaffiliated commissioners, would have to vote to approve the final maps.

“So, it’s really going to require them to work together and to come to a commonsense agreement about what’s in the best interest for Colorado,” Hubbard said.

The commissions will receive the official Census data on Aug. 16.