Crestone Eagle, June 2003:
State legislature redraws district
boundaries (again) to make Republican strongholds
Gerrymandering claim creating lawsuits
by David Nicholas
Redistricting is again at the top of the agenda
in the state legislature. “Foul!” cried Ken Salazar,
Colorado’s attorney general, filing suit with the state
Supreme Court, alleging that lawmakers did not have the right
to redraw district lines established last year by a district
judge. Republicans, who pushed it through the Legislature
in mid-May, forged the new map. Democrats did not vote on
the bill in protest.
The law, signed by GOP Gov. Bill Owens, solidifies Republican
strength in the 7th Congressional District in the north and
west Denver suburbs, as well as the 3rd District on the Western
Slope. It also strengthens the Democrats’ strong majorities
in the 1st District in Denver and the 2nd District in Boulder.
Basically, the Congressional boundaries have changed to strengthen
Bob Beauprez (R-Colorado) who won the newly created Seventh
Congressional seat by 122 votes.
Generally, it is an agreed upon rule, that redistricting
of electoral boundaries is carried out every ten years after
the national census is completed. Carried out in the spirit
of partisan politics, gerrymandering—as the process
is called—is the redrawing of electoral boundaries to
favor the sitting incumbent. It has nothing to do with fairness,
but it is a convenient corruption of the democratic process.
Neither party can claim the moral high ground here, if one
looks at the boundaries of a closely contested seat, you will
see how the line often zigzags to include a community here
or excludes a community there, depending on how the community
voted as a block.
Politicians always argue that it is a matter of numbers,
and that it is the law or court decisions which make those
‘zigzagging’ lines necessary. This is the reason
why Crestone was placed in a state electoral district, District
60, even though it has little connection with the other cities
(Pueblo) and counties also included. Our representative, the
erstwhile Republican speaker in the legislature, Lola Spradley,
lives in Beulah, and her visits to Crestone during her current
term are likely to be as rare as hen’s teeth.
The rumor last year was that Ms. Spradley wanted the soon-to-be
Great Sand Dunes National Park in her purview, which may be
the reason why our protests about being cut out of District
62—which includes the six counties the San Luis Valley
plus a bit of Huerfano County on the other side of La Veta
Pass—fell on deaf ears.
Salazar’s lawsuit named Secretary of State Donetta
Davidson. He asked the court to bar her from enforcing the
new map. The justices ordered Davidson to respond before June
16 and gave Salazar 30 days from receipt of her answer to
However, Colorado is not the only state pushing revised Congressional
boundaries one year after the process was carried out.
Texas, pushed by US Senator Tom Daley (R-Texas) and White
House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, had a similar measure before
the state house. Democrats, outraged by the travesty, bolted
for the state line in one of the funniest political episodes
in many years. Embarrassed, the Republicans called out the
Texas Rangers to arrest and detain the scalawags before they
crossed into New Mexico and Oklahoma, so they could be brought
back to Austin to vote on the bill. The effort was to no avail;
the legislators crossed the state line and were photographed
outside their respective hotels with grins from ear to ear
on their faces.
That is a true story. Sigh, only in Texas.
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