Governor John Hickenlooper last night issued a statement on the gridlocked redistricting process, breaking weeks of silence in which the first term Governor assiduously avoided weighing in on virtually any aspect of the competing proposals from House Republicans and Senate Democrats.
For the last two weeks we have been none-too-subtly calling on reporters to put the pinch on Hick to take a position. We have been told by some of the press corps not to worry, that the questions would get pressed. And tonight we learn, apparently Hick was getting enough prodding from the press to release a preemptive statement.
The Washington Post said Colorado's redistricting would be the first in the nation to deteriorate into the courts. The AP's Kristen Wyatt reports that lawsuits have already been filed in a dozen other states, but based on the Washington Post it would appear Colorado would be the first to throw in the towel, legislatively.
Governor Hickenlooper is joining House Speaker Frank McNulty in pining for a compromise.
Here is what our friends at Fox 31 are reporting:
With two partisan redistricting bills set to be heard in separate chambers Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a statement Wednesday night urging both sides to put an end to the partisanship and compromise once and for all over a map that re-draws Colorado's seven congressional districts.
…Enter Hickenlooper, who some folks have been urging to either take sides or play peacemaker in this inherently partisan process. (PEAK COMMENTARY: THIS WOULD BE US!)
Colorado's new governor, never much for partisanship, is pushing for a peaceful and practical outcome.
"We remain optimistic the General Assembly will finalize the state’s redistricting maps and avoid a costly court battle," Hickenlooper's statement said.
"The Republican leadership at the Legislature released a map yesterday that represents their view of a fair proposal. Today, Democrats released a map that takes a stab at more competitive districts.
"Even though the clock is ticking, there ought to be room for compromise and agreement before the legislative session ends. It is the right thing to do for the people of Colorado."
Hip-hip-hooray! Welcome to the debate, Governor.
We would have liked to see him outline some principles for the last stages of this essential negotiation (does the Governor think the West Slope should be protected?), but we will take it.
Hickenlooper's move is the latest sign that the legislative process may be grinding toward a bipartisan agreement.
Two days ago, House Republicans launched what they described as a compromise proposal, a map that makes Colorado's already competitive Congressional map even more competitive — something Democrats had demanded.
Yesterday, no doubt feeling isolated by the opposition of damn near every newspaper in the state, Senate Democrats raced into full retreat mode, releasing their own revised map which borrows on House Republican's general redistricting outlines as the foundation. While Republicans and conservatives objected to certain portions of yesterday's Dem proposal, there is no way to ignore that the Senate Democrats are moving significantly in the direction of House Republicans.
There are few more hurdles to cross, mostly Democrats backing off a few last unacceptable requests, like putting the Pinon Canyon potential expansion areas in with El Paso County. High profile Democrats from the Arkansas Valley are already crying foul and demanding Democrats wake up and give some respect to rural Colorado. That plus their splitting the Eastern Plains and forcing Boulder in with Douglas County. Once those demands are retracted we're looking at serious settlement territory.
We rightly predicted the original Democrat map introduced last week was a dead letter before the ink even dried, and we think the current Democrat proposal is equally as dead in the water without a few substantial changes.
Hick stepping in and offering even his limited statement is a blow to Brandon Shaffer's ability to get things done. He has lost every editorial page and the broader PR war, to the great detriment of the Democrat Party. Sorry, President Brandon. Time for the adults to get involved and get this thing done.