After our post yesterday mentioning the resemblance between the Democrats' dirty games on reapportionment and the "Midnight Gerrymander," a number of readers emailed to point out the striking similarities.
One attentive reader went back and pulled the full quote from The Blueprint. It reveals that not only was the "Midnight Gerrymander" a call to arms for former state Senator Mike Feeley, but more importantly for the liberal…er…progressive cause, it was also a rallying point for Al Yates, former CSU President and famed mouthpiece of billion heiress Pat Stryker.
In 2000, the Democrats won a one-vote majority in the state Senate that allowed them to stall and sandbag Congressional redistricting in the Legislature, forcing it into their favored public policy institution– the courts. When Republicans retook the Senate in 2002 they attempted to redo redistricting, as the state Constitution called for it to be dealt with by elected representatives in the Legislature and not the courts. That redrawn redistricting map became known as Senate Bill 352, or as The Denver Post editorial board later dubbed it — the "Midnight Gerrymander."
From The Blueprint:
Although the Colorado Supreme Court would later overturn Senate Bill 352, by then, for some political watchers in Colorado it had acquired indelible symbolic meaning of what was wrong with the Republican Party. Democratic leaders nurtured that sentiment, recognizing that their greatest defeat might also prove to be an opportunity to unite against a common enemy. “It became a rallying point for Democrats and was used to point out the meanness of the leadership,” later said former Democratic state senator Mike Feeley.
Senate Bill 352 was also a rallying point for Yates. Speaking of it later, he said, “I was appalled, and it was at that moment I realized the future of our state was in jeopardy, and worse, our democracy was at risk.” The redistricting episode “was strong evidence that keeping and expanding power was far more important to those in power than addressing the needs of our state and its citizens.”
The irony of this situation is that while the "Midnight Gerrymander" was a rallying point for Al Yates, Yates had no problem orchestrating his own power play this go-round. The Democrats' reapportionment shenanigans are a clear effort to focus on keeping and expanding power more so than addressing the needs of Colorado and its citizens. They were certainly no statesmanlike outreach to those on the other side of the aisle.
In fact, the Democrats' and their lap dog donor and Reapportionment Commission Chairman Mario Carrera, went even further than Republicans did last time. While the Democrat Senate caucus purposefully chose not to voice their dissent by walking out on the Senate Bill 352 vote, the Democrats and Carrera didn't even allow the Republicans on reapportionment to submit a minority report. Carrera and the Dems blocked amendments and Carrera allowed Democrats to review Republican's maps for four days before they submitted their own.
Democrats not only pulled their own power play, but they did so with underhanded and unethical tactics.
Yates' name has repeatedly popped up throughout this whole process. He is the convener of the Progressive Roundtable. The one, we suspect, who orchestrated the legal and political strategy in reapportionment and redistricting. The one who decided to pitch Brandon Shaffer overboard after the first round of maps in redistricting in an effort to more effectively target Mike Coffman. Someone made that decision up high and there are only a select few folks in the liberal machine capable of making that call.
If redistricting power plays are what rallied Al Yates and the left to become more involved in state-level politics then there is no other word to describe their vindictive power plays in reapportionment: hypocrisy.
The left has become what it once despised.