As The “Kumbaya Committee” Teeters

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?

53 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    You guys write well, but frequently answer your own questions. 🙂

    Maybe you intend to, but I wanted to point it out. From what I just heard, the chances of a bipartisan map just went from .0000001% to something too small to measure. There is no negotiating with the Rs.

  2. ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

    Colorado Pols has played the attack dog on behalf of Democrats and their insane maps very well. I really think if it wasn’t for this blog, Democrats feeble communications strategy with regard to redistricting would be completely in the shitter. Hat’s off to you.

    But Democrats have made a mockery of this “bipartisan” committee, and are deceitful in claiming the moral high ground with their insane maps. If the committee fails, it’s because Democrats submitted maps that were completely outrageous and insulting to rural Colorado. Period.

    If the “Kumbaya Committee” does fail, Colorado Peak Politics says, Democrats will take the blame.

    At the committee hearing Senator Greg Brophy pushed Democrats to admit to a willingness to keep the Western Slope (minus the ski communities) and Eastern Plains intact and to not break up El Paso County.

    This can be seen as nothing other than a win for Republicans and a win for the chance of this map being drawn by elected legislators and not appointed judges.

    If this bipartisan process fails now, Democrats have no one to blame but themselves.  

    • MissingPundit says:

      1. Pols is Dem attack dog. Check.

      2. Democrats hate rural CO. Check.

      3. Link to GOP troll blog. Check.

      It’s been more than a little amusing to me that Republicans professing outrage at being insulted have spent the better part of a week linking to blogs that personally insult members of the committee. Ahem.

    • AristotleAristotle says:

      Colorado Peak Politics has even less credibility than you do.

      • Middle of the Road says:

        It’s partisan, just like Daily Kos or Drudge Report is. 90% of what’s written on any political blog is opinion and their opinion is conservative. (They do need to stop worrying about what’s being written on Pols so much. Seems to border on an obsession in that regard. Take a lesson from other blogs, CPP. That sort of thing never works out well and just takes time away from getting your message out.)

        They have an outstanding editorial by Rep. Rob Witwer on civil unions. Well worth the read.

        • droll says:

          I miss Witwer in the legislature.

          Stupid blog anyway. “BREAKING ICE CAP NEWS: Progressives Enlist Charles Manson To Educate on Perils of Global Warming”

          They mean Manson went off on a rant and said he believes in it. (We all look the same to them?)

          That’s not slant, it’s stupidity.

          I do appreciate your willingness to accept sane partisanship for the right. I like that. Everyone, on either side is… Well, see my sig. (The second one.)

        • MissingPundit says:

          The best things they’ve published have been written by somebody else.

    • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

      For example, you can’t create maps that are perfectly fair to rural Colorado BECAUSE NOBODY LIVES THERE. Redistricting is about reflecting population changes and trying to maintain communities of interest, but that’s impossible to achieve in rural areas because there aren’t enough people there. That’s not an opinion — it’s just a fact of population shifts.

      For example, Mesa County (Grand Junction area) is the largest of what you might call a rural county, with 147,522 people in 2009 (using DOLA’s population estimates). After Mesa County, there isn’t a single Colorado county that even breaks the 60,000 mark in population (Garfield County, with 57,646, is the next-largest).

      In fact, if you add up the 52 lowest-populated Colorado Counties, the combined number is about 836,000. Add in Mesa County and you have a total of about 984,000 people.

      Considering that each congressional district needs to include about 700,000 people, there is no possible way to NOT split rural Colorado in some fashion when you take into account the high population density of the front range. The eight largest Colorado Counties are at least twice as large as Mesa County alone, and the top 3-4 (Denver, El Paso, Arapahoe, Jefferson) are about four times as large.  

      Rural Colorado will never be the same as it was 20 years ago because people moved away. That’s not partisan politics. People move. It happens.  

      • MADCO says:

        in with politics  the result is not something ArapGop-warrior wants to see.  

        The country leans left on most things.  President GW Bush did not win the popular vote.  Mike Coffman is free to move to Greenwood Village, even if will be in CD1.

      • Aggie says:

        This statement is true:

        there is no possible way to NOT split rural Colorado in some fashion

        but there are varying degrees of how much you split rural Colorado. It is not a black or white issue. I understand that framing it as such is better for your partisan goals, but it is not the most intellectually honest position.

        Creating a pin-wheel with the center in Denver (which is basically what most of the current Dem maps do) is not the only way to split up rural Colorado.  It can be done in a much less drastic way. See Dan Willis’s maps you put on the FP today.

        • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

          Our point above is something that we’ve talked about here for years. Population shifts have irreparably changed rural Colorado, and nobody should expect it to ever look the same where politics or elections are concerned.

          You can’t call “rural Colorado” one big “community of interest.” That’s silly.

          People in eastern Colorado have the same interests as people in southwest Colorado hundreds of miles away?  

          • Aggie says:

            Your point about shifting demographics in the state is well-taken.

            But, its all a matter of degree. How much do we have to dilute the rural votes? The population shifts are not so drastic that we cannot create a map in which the large rural parts of the state have a district that does not include part of Denver’s urban sprawl.

            In all seriousness Pols, if you could just put away partisan considerations for a moment, wouldn’t you have to say that the maps made by Dan Willis do a great job of finding a middle ground between the conflicting demands of comparativeness and Comm of interest?

            • AristotleAristotle says:

              It’s supposed to be based on population.

              If the rural counties don’t have the population, then what you’re proposing is the opposite – diluting the urban vote.

              The Senate does that well enough.

              • Aggie says:

                I am not advocating that the population should be different in the respective districts.  I am just saying that it is well within a range of possibilities to create a district that covers rural parts of Colorado without having it reach into the suburbs of Denver.

                I am not arguing that we should create districts with disparate populations. That is unconstitutional.  

              • ajb says:

                No shortage of stats to back that up.

        • I think the “pin-wheel with the center in Denver” talking point is a bit overblown.  It’s not like Dems have heavy representation from Denver or its suburbs in every district in their maps.  The fact remains that the Democratic maps offer opportunities and hazards for both parties in equal measure.

          I actually like what Dan has tried to do with all of his maps; I hope the committee and partisans on both sides get past the bickering on 12 obviously unacceptable maps and get to discussing what will work.

    • Ralphie says:

      Is reporting what actually happened.

      If that isn’t good for Republicans, so be it.

  3. MissingPundit says:

    I guess we can thank Balmer for providing one yesterday. It was a little perplexing seeing the all the press run with it. My impression from the committee’s conclusion was more of confusion than anything.

  4. Ellie says:

    The issue is not as clear cut as the GOP wants to make it seem, but the Dems have it wrong.

    Can’t disagree with their conclusion!      

    • Dan WillisDan Willis says:

      I REALLY do not like the Dem’s proposals for the rural area. I think the GOP were more on the mark there. But I did like the Dem’s proposals for the metro area.

      This liking bits of both was what lead to my latest map.

      • Ellie says:

        It seems to me you have a much better handle on the districts than the k-committee.  The Herald is looking at it from a rural prospective which is to be expected. I don’t think you have to throw away the rural areas to deal fairly with the metro areas but for some reason the Dems seemed hell bent to do just that in the first round.

  5. Just Anita says:

    When has the GOP ever blown a chance at having a court decide for people? Seriously CD3 Democrats? Spewing Mesa/Club 20’s BS about the Western Slope “Water Rights” shared interest with fears that ‘Denver only wants our water’?

    How about clean water rights for all Coloradoans? Since Club 20 is also the collective voice for the Oil/Gas/Mining industries, how much concern is there for promoting “clean water” when the industries would be compromised financially from any stronger regulatory in-FRAC-tions to their operations? Nevermind the NW counties ski industry collective being silenced on the impacts from fossil fuels based on collective Club 20’s claims that ‘there is no proof fossil fuels are contributing to climate change’.

    And to think, the CD3 Democrats opposed to splitting the district are concerned with real problems like ‘keeping CD3 a swing district’ for 2012. How utterly progresive and visionary!

    If Colorado wants to see progressive opportunities for clean alternative energies, environmental and water protections for all Coloradoans, then put the mountain rural counties into CD2, and challenge CD3’s SW counties Club 20 vision of State and national energy/water policy.

    • gertie97 says:

      Denver really is after our water.

      • 9.06-inches-of-average-annual-precipitation-in-Grand-Junction “our water”?  As in . . . just trying to keep conniving, greedy, vile, rapacious Denver from sticking a straw into the rain barrel in my back yard.  (By the way, I agree; we hate ’em here in DougCo too where they’re after our . . . er, um, well . . . ok, we’re not exactly sure what — but we do know for certain that they’re after it, whatever it is.  Always gotta keep an eye on them devious bastards.)

        Or the “our water” that fell as precipitation high in the mountains of the counties of Grand, Summit, Eagle, Pitkin, Gunnison, etc., etc. (and that is largely stored in resevoirs which help allow for a resonably stable year-round supply downstream to us — funded and maintained by lots of front range monies, but never mind that) to which we now claim birthright, ownership, and title?

        Nothing against you personally Gertie; my rant here probably stems more from the wish-I-could-forget relatives and their degenerate children, all life-long residents of beautiful and verdant Moffat county, who have mewled their rendition of the “Stealing Our Water” song at every family gathering I can remember ever since I was a little kid.  (Other variations include, “Stealing Our Coal”, “Stealing Our Tax Dollars”, and “Stealing Our Elk/Deer/Wildlife”)  (If it were all only ture, I would probably take some personal satisfaction, and small comfort, in knowing that I was actually doing something to help steal “their water.”)

        • Ralphie says:

          that is “largely stored in reservoirs” is crap by the time it gets here. Impounding water significantly increases the dissolved solids by evaporation. Denver gets the good stuff, diverted at the headwaters, and we get the crap.

          • a west-slope water user?   ;~)

            Up until now everything I ever learned about water, except for how to swim, I learned from one of your esteemed Congressmen; and, might I add the Congessional Representative voice for an undivided, unified west-slope House district . . . (Oh, and also my batshit crazy aforementioned Moffat county inbred relatives).

            WATER! It is an absolute human and economic necessity.  WATER! You and I cannot live without it.  Colorado’s economy and people absolutely depend on water.  The water we use day-to-day comes mostly from mountain snow melt — some from rain — but mostly from mountain snow melt.

            The Congressman never told us that you were getting the crappy water.  Live and learn.

  6. reubenesp says:

    looks like a better chance for compromise than 10 years ago.  It still could end up court, in which case the Democrats will win.  GOP plan too transparently racist, anti-Semitic.  Glad those tapes were rolling during the hearing.

    • 20th Maine says:

      Do you have a link to those “tapes” of Republicans using racism as a basis for their maps?  

      The Dems would likely win a court case, but that has a lot more to do with the political make-up of the bench than anything else.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist otherwise, but in purely political matters (as redistricting is), they sympathize with Dems. To their credit, most of those on the Supreme Court were shamed into voting against the initial Dem maps 10 years ago.  That could definitely happen again.

      Also, it’s my understanding that the GOP map gives Hispanics a much higher % in CO-1, whereas the Dems dilute Hispanic influence among the metro districts.  You can argue which strategy is “racist,” but Hispanic leaders will tell you they prefer the GOP way.

      Your comments are so inept they would seem to indicate a medical emergency.  Whether it’s a doctor or just reading a book (“t- h- e”), I encourage to seek one of them out immediately.

      • ajb says:

        Sorry to go off-topic, but give me an effin’ break.

        You don’t recall the stonewalling of judicial appointees during the Clinton years that allowed GWB to pack the federal courts with partisan Republican judges?

        It would appear that the primary qualification of any Republican justice is their loyalty to the brand.

        Exhibit A: GWB

        Exhibit B: Citizens United

        And the same shit is going on today with Presidential appointments.

        And exactly which Hispanic leaders prefer the GOP plan?  

        • Middle of the Road says:

          to present that Hispanics prefer the GOP plan as Reuben has to prove the GOP plan is racist and anti-Semitic. The two ought to get a room together.  

          • 20th Maine says:

            that you are an idiot.  That’s a medical term.

            My posts about minorities preferring majority-minority districts aren’t in question by anyone else here other than you.  Didn’t you notice no one else running behind you on your way to streak through the quad?

            You obviously have no sentient thoughts of your own and instead simply react and retalliate.  Or maybe you’re a genius (another medical term) and this is a trick to make me waste my time to prove the obvious to you.  You win:

            One of the advocates for a Latino district is Fernando Romero, president of the non-partisan Hispanics in Politics, a local organization that promotes Latino leadership. With a Hispanic majority, Romero said, his community could send a representative to Washington who would champion their priorities, like immigration reform.

            And, he said, if Latinos don’t have one district where they are clustered together, and instead are spread out across multiple districts, they could not truly flex their political muscle.

            “You dilute the flavor, you dilute the empowerment,” Romero said. “And that is what we don’t want.”…  

            Latinos have maintained their historic concentration, in areas of Hudson, Essex, Union and Passaic Counties. We endorse the strategy of the creation of additional majority-Latino districts like the 33rd District in Hudson County. Any mapping strategy must build on the one that created the 33rd district by creating additional majority Latino districts.…  

            Currently litigation is underway in federal court, as MALDEF seeks to increase Latino majority congressional districts from the status quo of 7 to 9. Litigation that was completed a few weeks ago in state court yielded maps that did not create any new opportunities for Latino communities……  

            Some view majority-minority districts as a way to dilute the voting power of minorities and analogous to racial segregation; others favor majority-minority districts as ways to effectively ensure the election of a minority member of Congress to the House of Representatives.

            • Ralphie says:

              That’s not a medical term, but we all know what it means.

              New Jersey politics as an analogue to Colorado politics?  Having grown up in New Jersey, that makes me just shake my head.

              Dig deeper.  Maybe someday you’ll make sense.

              • 20th Maine says:

                from my references to MotR.  You wear the shoe well…

                What the hell are you talking about?  NJ was one of three random states I picked.  By wide margins, minority leadership has preferred majority-minority districts to being divided.  Historically and presently. All over the country.  I’m not making this up and not citing obscure references.

                Get off the couch and do a little reading.

                You and Snooki seem to have a lot in common.

  7. ohwilleke says:

    in court, instead of under the dome, although if a deal isn’t reached during the regular session, there is a decent change that Hickenlooper would call a special session and preside over it personally to try to get the parties to reach a deal.  Nobody paid much of a political price with the voters for not reaching a deal the last time around.  Indeed, from a voter’s perspective, the court drawn map was probably better than what either side wanted in the negotiations and was widely praised by the newspapers at the time.

    As in any negotiation, each side’s the first round offer is always more favorable than what either side is willing to agree to in the end.  

    Despite slight variations, both the GOP and the Democrats basically offered on map each.  The Democratic maps all put rural Colorado into three districts with urban components; the Republican maps all follow the general framework of the existing districts with rural Colorado in two districts split on an East/West divide.  Any of the maps so far would probably survive a court challenge is they could be enacted.  

    We are just entering “round two” of the negotiation process and this is the kind of deal that is unlikely to close until the very last possible moment at the end of the legislative session, which is still more than a week away.

    The incentive for each side to deal is the risk that a court ordered map will be worse for their side than a compromise map, which is tricky since you can’t know in advance which judge will get the case and a trial judge’s decision is very likely to be upheld on appeal because it is so fact intensive.  Also, a judge is unlikely to severely gerrymander to favor one side or the other, so the advantage that comes from agreeing to a compromise map may be pretty modest.

  8. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    1. For most people in Colorado common interests are not political leanings. For most people the big concerns have nothing to do with politics – it’s having a job, how are their kids doing, gay rights, some sports team, … These issues are many times not Dem/Repub issues.

    2. Water is key to everyone in the state. I think the big concern for a lot of the rural areas is subsidized water. Because water is available – if you can afford it.

    3. I think part of Grand Junction’s insistence on a west slope district is the Dem map means Boulder picks their rep. While a west slope map means Grand Junction picks the rep for all of the west slope. It’s fun to be the King.

    • Dan WillisDan Willis says:

      If the Dem map went forward, then Boulder would be picking GJ’s rep.

      But under the traditional west slope configuration GJ is balanced by Pueblo. This is and should remain a competitive district.

      Competitiveness is not the be all to end all in redistricting, but if it can be accomplished without unreasonably disrupting county/city/community of interest, then score one for the home team.

      But keep in mind rural areas have a more regional community of interest to be considered than more populous areas do. I think the western slope and the eastern plains both fall into the regional community of interest.

  9. CastleMan says:

    can’t we have a non-partisan redistricting commission do this job, like they have in Arizona and several other states?

    Yes, I know there was a proposal to create something like that on the ballot awhile back, but that wasn’t a re-districting year.

    Can’t someone put an initiative on the 2012 ballot so that, in 2021, we don’t have to endure yet another round of ridiculous, unproductive, selfish partisan games over what should be an exercise in logic and mathematics?

    • RedGreenRedGreen says:

      with big stakes and it should be handled by elected officials accountable to voters. It’s no more a partisan mess than other decisions the state rightly entrusts to the legislature — politics is messy.

      • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

        It’s their job to work this out. And it fundamentally is a political decision to balance out all the various factors.

        • CastleMan says:

          the “various factors” the lege considers amount to permutations on the questions “which party should get screwed,” “which legislator should get a safe seat,” and “how can we make sure the good old boys get a louder voice than [insert disfavored group].”

          That it is a political question does not, ipso facto, mean it has to be answered by the hideously partisan and generally corrupt people at the lege. There’s a reason for having an initiative system. This is one of them.

    • AFAIK, Iowa is the only state who has a redistricting commission where the commission appointments don’t seem to have a partisan axe to grind.  I don’t hear much about Arizona’s commission, but I do know about some of the others, and they aren’t anything better than what we have – just less accountable to the voter.

    • ohwilleke says:

      does assign the job to state legislatures in the first place.

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