Lots of press that needs updating and clarification on the redistricting process today. A good summary of last night’s chaotic meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Redistricting can be found in today’s Durango Herald–as reporter Joe Hanel reports:
Democrats defended their plan to draw new congressional district maps Tuesday, even as key legislators held out hope for a bipartisan compromise on one of the most heated political disputes of the year…
Despite some sharp exchanges, legislators toned down their heated rhetoric from Friday, when they swapped angry allegations that Democrats were using the new map for the political ambitions of their own senators, and that Republicans were trying to minimize Hispanic voting clout.
Although they were far from a resolution when they ended the three-hour meeting, legislators held out hope that they could agree on a new plan.
“If we can look at that so we can increase the number of competitive districts, I think we really have something to talk about,” [Sen. Morgan] Carroll said.
Based on reports from attendees, here’s what we can tell you about this fluid situation–as you’ve read in most papers today, there’s a proposal that the committee begin with a “Bipartisan Map 1,” which would build on areas the two sides can agree on. But that’s not quite the whole story:
The GOP proposal yesterday to try consensus maps, essentially from scratch at the last minute, amounts to a significant concession as we’ll explain–but more than that, it’s further evidence that the Joint Select Committee has been externally undermined. By one of its own creators, Speaker Frank McNulty. A major theme that emerged in yesterday’s meeting is the apparent fact that Rep. Dave Balmer no longer has control of the Republican side (if he ever did), and his proposed maps are no longer supported by Republican leadership. As of last night, it’s all about McNulty’s maps on the GOP side, and apparently, Balmer is not even qualified to answer questions about them. This makes his job on the committee kind of difficult, to the extent that neither he nor other Republicans were reportedly able to explain changes on revised maps!
Despite this evidence of major dysfunction, Democrats are reportedly willing to engage in one more mapmaking exercise at the committee’s meeting today–central to their philosophy behind the “City Integrity” maps was the idea that present boundaries are not an overriding consideration, and maps should be freshly drawn as much as possible to reflect dynamic change. This is the rhetorical point that Republicans on the committee conceded in proposing to “start fresh.” But there is a major lack of clarity now on who is in control of the GOP’s effort, and what the underlying principles reflected in GOP proposed maps even are. “District integrity” seems to be the only term that Republicans can agree to articulate, along with “communities of interest,” both slightly longer ways of saying “status quo, and incumbent protection.”
That will not produce consensus enough to sing “Kumbaya,” folks.
While the “Kumbaya Committee” has been a fun diversion, if McNulty and his Bill Owens-era operative
handlers friends always planned to override the Republicans participating–as may well be the case based on the inability of Republicans on the committee to answer basic questions?
Well, why did McNulty create it to begin with?