On the same day state Senate President and CD4 candidate Brandon Shaffer filed an amicus brief with the Denver district court over redistricting, a collection of rural Coloradan county associations filed their own brief. Their message to Shaffer and other Democrats seeking to divide and conquer rural Colorado with gerrymandered maps: back the funk up!
Redistricting is the decennial process of redrawing Congressional district lines to reflect population changes identified in the US Census. Shaffer filed a brief supporting the splitting of the Eastern Plains in CD4 so he could have an easier time winning election as a liberal in a conservative leaning district. He also wanted his home in Longmont drawn in the 4th CD, something his own party decided against doing in their own map submission.
The amicus brief was filed along with a map by Club 20, a coalition representing individuals, businesses, tribes and local governments in Colorado's 22 western counties. It was endorsed by Action 22, representing Southern Colorado's 22 counties, and Progressive 15, which represents Northeast Colorado.
All told the map and amicus brief submitted by Club 20 has the backing of organizations representing 58 of Colorado's 64 counties. When it comes to rural Colorado, Club 20 plus Action 22 plus Progressive 15 equals pretty much everybody.
The map sought to place Grand County in the third Congressional district, as it's a Western Slope county which the rural Colorado organizations believe should be kept whole in redistricting. They also advocated for keeping Southern Colorado, the Eastern Plains and the San Luis Valley whole — a stance that finds them at odds with the position of the state Democrat Party, who has advocated slicing and dicing rural Colorado.
The other defining characteristic of the rural Colorado map submission is its focus on not moving nearly a 1/3 of the state into a new district overnight, as the maps submitted by Democrats and liberal special interest groups do.
The minimal disruption aspect is particularly important, as the GOP submitted a map entitled "Minimum Disruption 1." Having the backing of these three highly influential and important groups on the disruption issue is a major win for the GOP's redistricting case.
From the Club 20 press release (PDF):
“The CLUB 20 map demonstrates that redistricting criteria can be met with minimal disruption to Colorado communities, said Bonnie Petersen, CLUB 20 Executive Director. Rural residents and communities in Western Colorado, the San Luis Valley and the Eastern Plains have a right to congressional representation focused on their unique issues and concerns. Rural issues can often be in conflict with urban concerns which make it very difficult for a congressional member to represent both sides of one issue should rural communities of interest be divided and added to urban communities.”
As the seminal case referenced often during redistricting, Carstens v Lamm, highlights, preservation of rural communities of interest is an important guiding principle for drawing districts.
Brandon Shaffer and the Democrats are hoping to slice and dice rural Colorado for their own personal political gain, but the amicus brief and map filed by these rural representatives makes clear Coloradans will not take their attempts at gerrymandering or "Brandon-Mandering" lying down.
It's no wonder elected Democrats have become an endangered species outside the Denver metro area.
You can read the full amicus brief here (PDF).