There may be no more influential voice among moderately inclined Republicans in Colorado than that belonging to former state Representative Rob Witwer (R-Genesee). Witwer has long been a bridge-builder between moderates on both sides of the political aisle.
But to hear Witwer these days, moderate isn't the word you would use. Righteously indignant, fed up, exasperated, all seem more fitting. Witwer is a member of the Colorado Reapportionment Commission, appointed by Speaker of the House Frank McNulty. In his time working on reapportionment, Witwer has seen first hand the failings of the commission to do right by the people of Colorado, instead watching it get used to further the partisan interests of Democrats at the expense of everyone else.
The reapportionment process, which is the redrawing of state legislative lines to reflect population changes identified in the US Census, has been an unholy mess of of backroom deals and partisan gerrymandering that has diminished the public's trust in the entire process.
It didn't have to be this way.
The Colorado News Agency's Peter Blake examines what could have been in a must-read article this week. In it he describes the process Iowa has put in place, where nonpartisan legislative staff members draw the maps. Politics is removed from the process:
The law provides that the addresses of incumbents, the political affiliation of registered voters and previous election results must be ignored. There is no effort to create so-called “competitive” districts, and yet Iowa remains as competitive as Colorado.
Representative Witwer tried to introduce a change in the process, to make it similar to Iowa's successful system, at the first meeting of the Reapportionment Commission. His proposal was completely ignored.
Now we are all possibly stuck with "politically vindictive" maps drawn to benefit Democrats for the next decade.
Under the guise of "competitive" districts, all we got were districts drawn to be more competitive for Democrats, not all candidates. Per Blake's article:
Much was made this year of creating “competitive” districts, even though that’s not a requirement in law. Witwer scoffs at that notion. Competitiveness, as he defines it, “means turning the other party’s district competitive.”
It was Democrats who primarily urged competitiveness this year, mostly because they want to oust Republican U.S Rep. Mike Coffman in the 6th District. But see how eager for competitiveness they would be if a Republican suggested splitting Denver into two or three districts in order to have a better shot at Rep. Diana DeGette.
Maybe the Commission should have heeded Witwer's advice. We all would have been better off had they done so.