COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado’s Independent Redistricting Commission has until Friday, Oct. 1, to submit its final proposal for the state’s eight congressional districts.
In the 2016 election, Colorado passed two ballot initiatives to create independent commissions to draw the districts for Colorado’s congressional districts for Washington, D.C., and the State House and State Senate districts locally, taking the power away from the state legislature.
For both state and congressional districts, the commission must make an effort to create equal populations, adhere to the federal Voting Rights Act, maintain contiguous districts, remain compact in size while not diluting racial or language minorities, preserve communities of interest and create competitive districts.
“That’s a healthy thing in our democracy. It helps to sharpen candidates of both parties, discuss issues, debate the issues.” said John Mikos, the chair of the El Paso County Democratic Party.
The redistricting commission must submit the congressional district map by Friday and the state senate and state house district maps by Friday, Oct. 15, with the final maps revealed in December of 2021.
Colorado’s growth earned it a new, eighth district that all three of the Staff proposals from the commission draw northeast of Denver, often splitting suburban, metro areas with rural areas.
The Eighth district creates a ripple across the state, with changes coming to Colorado Springs. The city’s growth has shrunk the fifth congressional district from stretching across several counties to incorporating just Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Monument, Fountain, and the Security-Widefield area.
“We’re hopeful that El Paso County would have its own congressional district. I think that sentiment cuts across party lines,” Mikos said.
Not much changes for Pueblo, drafted to stay in CD3 in all staff proposals. CD3 however, has gone through several changes in the process, with the latest draft keeping most of its reach across the entire western slope, save a few counties near the continental divide.
“Sitting here in Pueblo I think it does [work].” said Rob Leverington, the chair for the Pueblo County Republican Party, “The district has worked well for ten years now. Do we perhaps have more in commons with folks up in Sterling and Burlington? Probably.”
Those two towns stay squarely in CD4, represented by republican Rep. Ken Buck.
As far as Pueblo is concerned, Leverington believes both the congressional map and the state legislative maps are competitive, saying that Pueblo County is more of a purple county in the current political climate.
For the State Senate, the proposal flips Senate District 3 and Senate District 35 in the latest proposal, with 35 encompassing all of Pueblo County and District 3 stretching to the eastern and southern border of the state.
Whatever the district number, Leverington likes Pueblo County staying in one district.
“I think it is good for Republicans because it would make the district more competitive.” he said.
For Mikos’s part, he believes the competitive nature of Congressional District 5 will make itself known in the next several cycles.
El Paso County is a solidly conservative district, with most candidates in the mid-50s for percentage of the votes earned in the 2020 election, while Democratic candidates made significant gains from 2016 to 2020.
In 2016, 33.9% of El Paso County voters cast a vote for Hillary Clinton. In 2020, Joe Biden received 42.7% of the vote.
“El Paso County is quietly becoming a purple county,” Mikos said.
His optimism does not extend to the state senate maps, where he hopes there will be more of an emphasis on competitiveness in the future maps.
“I think the voters of this county and would be better served if there was an increase in the number of districts that are competitive races,” Mikos said.