Unlike it's sexy cousin Redistricting, legislative reapportionment doesn't get nearly as much attention or scrutiny. It's unfortunate, because the legislature not only has a large impact on our daily lives, but party affiliation matters much more in these races than in the state-wide and Congressional races. Unlike the higher-profile elections, legislative candidates are generally not well known and 527s can have a significant impact on voter perception (if you didn't realize this by now).
As today's news that a lawyer-lobbyist is set to challenge Rep. Ramirez (Westminister), it underscores the importance of the reapportionment process. Sitting legislators can very easily lose their seat if their district gets skewed enough. Similarly, a challenger filed paperwork to run against Rep. Libby Szabo (Arvada), but apparently thought better of it. Aside from a few exceptions, Ryan Call has been very successful at getting potential candidates to hold off on declaring a run–lest a district be drawn AROUND them.
The next few weeks will be pivotal to Jeffco, Arapahoe and Adams counties, as well as a few unfinished districts north of Denver. The bulk of legislative districts come from the metro area. If you live in any of these areas, make sure you stay up to speed on how the Senate and House districts are likely to shake out. You can find maps, sign up to email updates, or sign-up to testify here.
1) Douglas County: Highlands Ranch will now fall into two HD's. Speaker McNulty may not like giving up part of his district, but he's gotta love a new safe-seat in the House.
2) Reapportionment Commission Chairman Mario Carrera (U): Despite having some leftward leanings, he has shown himself to be mostly impartial–a good trait for the tie-breaking vote. In fact, he's done a stellar job alternately ticking off and pleasing Dems and the GOP alike.
3) Jeffco: The Jeffco GOP Chairman Don Ytterberg's plan to outster Democrats altogether is nearing completion. Minority Leader Mike Kopp's district has no where to grow but north, costing Betty Boyd some of her district. On the House side, things are bright (see below), as the low-growth and more liberal suburbs of Lakewood and Wheat Ridge will be consolidated in some form. There will be turf wars next year between Andy Kerr, Max “Tax” Tyler, and/or Sue Schafer. Let the fireworks begin!
4) Larimer-Weld: Because of its high growth in the last decade, Weld will get an additional House seat. The maps drawn this week should give the GOP all 3 seats. Granted, the Weld maps came at the price of preserving a 2-2 split in Larimer–the upside is that the 2 Larimer Dem seats are still competitive. At the end of the day, the GOP House had a two seat swing in Larimer and Weld: from 3-3 to 5-2 (with added Weld HD). If the Larimer GOP can draft a Diggs Brown or other big local name to run for Sen. Bacon's seat, it could be a game-changer and the Larimer-Weld SD's would be 4-0 GOP advantage.
1) Sen. Linda Newell: She had a tough fight on her hands next year anyway, but if population shifts are any indicator, it will be tougher than she thought. Her district needs to gain voters, unfortunately for her Ted Harvey's adjacent ultra-conservative district needs to shed voters.
2) Reps. Max Tyler/Sue Schafer: Jeffco will lose a House Seat and given that all population growth has occured in the southern portion of the county, somethings gotta give in HD 23 and 24. Jeffco will not be drawn until at least next week (see above), but all indications point towards a merger of 2 of the 3 Democrat HD's in Jeffco. Somewhere, Speaker McNulty is smiling.
3) Commission Vice-Chair Wellington Webb: If you needed proof Webb is a has-been, look no further than his performance week in and week out at hearings. While every other member (yes, even Sen. Morgan Carroll) has at least attempted to learn about districts outside Denver-proper, Webb has made no such effort. If only he'd have bothered to look at a Colorado map before the commission convened, things would be much smoother.
4) Denver/Boulder Dems: They are in the running for the biggest losers in the whole process. While Republicans have no reason to care what districts look like (does it matter in counties with 20% GOP voters?), Denver will lose a House seat, as will Boulder. On the Senate side, Grandpa Heath's district will need to grow–costing Sen. Nicholson precious votes (she won by 600 votes, with a 5,000 vote advantage in Boulder Co.). Thankfully the cess-pool that is the Denver-Boulder corridor will lose some of its influence.
1) Western Slope: Not much will change on the Western Slope in terms of party advantage, but the major district-line shifts may give the GOP a more competitive seat in HD 61, currently represented by perhaps the weirdest legislator in decades, Roger Wilson. His district will pick up Delta County, and lose part of Gunnison Co. which should help the GOP.
2) El Paso: For a county that grew considerably and is one of the most conservative in the nation, it didn't gain much. It will likely have a 6-1 GOP advantage in the House and aside from term-limited “Per Diem” Morse's seat, a 4-1 Senate edge. They gained part of a Senate seat, that also runs through Teller, Park and Fremont Counties. Since all the HD's are now completely within El Paso, it wasn't able to pick up a seat. The good news? With safe-seats everywhere else in the county, the GOP can really hone in on Pete Lee and Morse's successor.
3) San Luis Valley/Southern Colorado: On the House side, the Democrats will retain a 3-0 advantage, including Sally Pace's, Ed Vigil's and Wes McKinley's seats. The Senate side will create a bit of a race for Kevin Grantham, losing Fremont and gaining Alamosa. However he also was able to pick up more favorable parts of Pueblo Co so it's pretty much a draw.