Colorado's Redistricting News
Rocky Mountain News:
"Congressional redistricting vote slated." January 15, 2002
A Republican-backed plan that creates Colorado's seventh congressional district without splitting up Denver is scheduled for a final vote in the House today.
House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, received preliminary approval for his redistricting proposal Monday on a 33-31 vote.
"It's certainly our constitutional duty to do everything we can to get a plan that both houses and the governor can agree on," Dean said during debate on his bill. "This map was drawn, folks, with a blind eye toward partisanship."
Dean proposes giving the Western Slope and plains their own representatives, keeping Denver whole and putting Pueblo and the San Luis Valley with the Western Slope.
Four Western Slope GOP lawmakers broke party ranks and voted against Dean's plan because it would shift Lake and Chaffee counties into a district with El Paso County. They said that erodes their power base.
Dean said Lake and Chaffee counties are east of the Continental Divide and are not part of the Western Slope. He said his plan conforms to a 1982 court ruling outlining rules for redrawing the boundaries.
House Democrats opposed the map because they said it leaves their party with control of the same two districts they already control without providing at least a third competitive seat.
Lawmakers face a Jan. 25 deadline to either come up with a plan or allow Denver District Court Judge John Coughlin to select one for them. Another three House GOP plans await debate.
Any plan approved in the House must still go to the Senate, where Democrats have a majority.
Democrats said they weren't interested in fighting over plans, preferring instead to either come up with a compromise or take their chances with the courts.
"We will consider (the House proposals) in due course," said Sen. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden.
House Democrats were quick to point out that Republicans had trouble holding together support for Dean's plan in their own ranks.
"I think it is clear that there really isn't a groundswell of support for this plan," said House Minority Dan Grossman, D-Denver.
The Colorado House voted 33-31 tentatively Monday for Speaker Doug Dean's embattled congressional redistricting plan, which is not expected to get far in the state Senate.
Dean, a Colorado Springs Republican, said he will ask for a final House vote, probably today, to send his HB1001 to the Senate, where Assistant Minority Leader Mark Hillman, R-Burlington, likely will carry it.
Dean had hoped to persuade Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, to be his co-sponsor.
But Matsunaka turned him down, reminding Dean that Senate Democratic leaders first demand negotiating a compromise with the Republican-controlled House.
The House speaker said he will continue talking with Matsunaka in hopes of striking some kind of deal acceptable to Democrats, who hold an 18-17 majority in the Senate.
If talks fail, the mapping of Colorado's seven congressional districts will devolve to Denver District Judge John Coughlin, who is presiding over a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party last May.
Coughlin has given the Legislature until Jan. 25 - 10 days, now - to pass a redistricting plan that would not be vetoed by Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican.
Monday's 33-31 preliminary vote drew no Democratic support. All 26 House Democrats who were present, joined by five Republicans, voted against Dean's HB1001.
Four of the Republicans - Reps. Gayle Berry and Matt Smith, both R-Grand Junction; Kay Alexander, R-Montrose; and Mark Larson, R-Cortez - objected to it for including Pueblo but excluding Lake and Chaffee counties from Congressman Scott McInnis' 3rd District on the Western Slope.
The 3rd Congressional District currently includes all of those areas, but population growth will require giving up some territory - and McInnis prefers giving up Pueblo, not Lake and Chaffee counties.
One Democrat - Rep. Carl Miller of Leadville - agreed with McInnis, saying Lake and Chaffee counties identify more with the Western Slope than the El Paso County-dominated 5th District proposed in the Dean map.
"It's true Lake and Chaffee counties are on the Eastern Slope. But what we're talking about is water - water-consuming and water-producing counties," Miller said, classifying the Western Slope as water-producing and El Paso County as water-consuming.
House-favored redistricting plan
Colorado Speaker of the House Colorado House Doug Dean's redistricting plan would split Pueblo County in half.
Under HB1001, the city of Pueblo, Beulah and Colorado City, with combined population of 105,349, would stay in the 3rd District while Pueblo West, St. Charles Mesa and points east of Interstate 25, with 36,123 people, would go into the Eastern Plains' 4th District.
Pueblo West, St. Charles Mesa and points east of Interstate 25, with 36,123 people, would go into the Eastern Plains' 4th District.
A plan by House Speaker Doug Dean to hammer out a compromise on remapping the state's congressional districts fell apart Friday, casting further doubt on whether the legislature will meet a court-ordered deadline of Jan. 25.
Republicans failed to agree on a single proposal for how the state map should be redrawn, forcing Dean to put off floor debate until Monday at the earliest. Dean, R-Colorado Springs, had planned to move the Republican bills from the House to the Senate by Monday. The delay means the Senate won't get the Republican plans until later in the week.
On Monday, the legislature launches its first full week of the 2002 session, with budget-tightening and congressional redistricting headlining the agenda. Committees in both the House and Senate also will begin hearing testimony on a slew of bills, ranging from a possible repeal of coroners' authority to order cornea transplants from dead people to boosting Capitol security. A budget committee also will brief lawmakers during the week about the budget.
Senate President Stan Matsunaka is scheduled to meet with Gov. Bill Owens to discuss a 20-year transportation funding plan for the state. The two agree that a plan is needed, but they disagree over the funding sources.
"He's only giving me 30 minutes, so I don't know how much we can get done," Matsunaka said.
Matsunaka said he wants to ask the governor what money is available to increase transportation funding without hurting other programs and how the state will prioritize new transportation corridors not included in the Transportation Department's 20-year plan.
On redistricting, Dean has tried to rally support for his plan, while Democrats have refused to introduce any plans until they have assurance Republicans won't simply reject them out of hand.
During last year's special session, Democrats killed the Republican proposals, Republicans killed the Democrats' plans, and the matter ended up in District Court, with Judge John Coughlin setting a Jan. 25 deadline for the legislature to reach a compromise. If not, the court will decide the new boundaries.
Each side wants a map that gives their party the advantage in an election. Republicans now have four people in Washington; Democrats have two. Colorado's increasing population makes the state eligible for a seventh district. Dean's map would carve out four safe Republican districts, two safe Democratic districts and a swing district on the Western Slope. That seat is now held by Rep. Scott McInnis.
On Friday, Republicans locked horns over how to draw the Western Slope boundaries, and in the end none of the GOP proposals, including Dean's, had the required 33 votes to pass the House. Dean said that McInnis had put pressure on some state lawmakers to reject his plan because it included Pueblo in the Western Slope and eroded McInnis' Republican base.
"I'm mad at both sides, Republicans and Democrats," Dean said shortly after the House adjourned. "It's very regrettable, but it appears the court will have to do our job for us because we're not able to agree on anything."
Later in the day, Dean admitted he had been "a little hot under the collar" after talks broke down but had resumed negotiations, and spoken with McInnis, in hopes of a compromise.
"I'm trying to find a way to glue things back together," Dean said. "It's probably likely that if I make the changes McInnis wants, it will reduce the chances that Democrats will support it."
After two days of pleading, threatening and watching the clock tick down, House Republicans advanced four plans to redraw Colorado's congressional districts and add a seventh seat.
The four proposals passed the House State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Thursday and are up for debate on the House floor today. Lawmakers only have 11 working days to reach a compromise before a district court judge draws the lines for them.
"I hope that we don't allow ourselves to be remembered as the legislature that failed to do our job," said House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs. "It is our constitutional duty."
Dean is carrying the most popular Republican plan, HB 1001, on which he says he is willing to compromise. Dean and Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, are scheduled to meet and talk about his bill.
But Senate Democrats announced earlier this week that if they didn't have a bill they could agree to and that the governor would sign, they would take their chances in court. They haven't introduced any plans of their own.
Even with the four plans progressing and a direct appeal from Gov. Bill Owens during his State of the State speech, lawmakers have found little common ground in the highly partisan battle over where district boundaries should go.
Democrats argue that lawmakers should try to make the new districts as competitive as possible.
"I think the citizens of Colorado are better represented when their elected officials have to run in competitive districts," said Rep. Michael Garcia, D-Aurora. "Competition is certainly not a constitutional requirement, but there's no reason we can't try."
Lawmakers began the redistricting process months ago and failed during a special legislative session to agree on how the state should be divided. Then the redistricting trial started in Denver District Court.
Judge John Coughlin said he would select a map from one of the many filed,but he would withhold his decision until Jan. 25, giving lawmakers a little more time to work out their differences.
While Republicans continue to file plans, they don't seem likely to give the Democrats the "competition" they want. In fact, Republicans argue that, with over 1 million registered Republicans and only 841,903 registered Democrats, competitive districts are tough to draw in many places.
"Competitiveness is hollow," Dean said. "It's not something you should even be considering when you make a map like this."
Some lawmakers are realistic about their chances of pleasing everyone.
Rep. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, will carry the plan he worked on for months, HB1072, onto the House floor.
"When you try to divide the state up into seven groups of 614,000 people, you're going to have some issues," he said.
Chances appear slim that Republicans and Democrats will resolve their differences on congressional redistricting as Colorado legislators start a new session today.
Having failed to do it during a special session last fall, lawmakers have only 16 days to pass - and Gov. Bill Owens to sign - a redistricting bill. Denver District Judge John Coughlin has set a Jan. 25 deadline for resolution of the House and Senate boundaries.
If they fail again, Coughlin will make the decision in a lawsuit filed last May be the state Democratic Party. The losing side almost certainly would appeal Coughlin's decision to the Colorado Supreme Court.
On the eve of the session, Senate Democratic leaders said the only hope they see for the Legislature to decide the issue is to feel out the Republican House and governor about the possibility of a last-ditch compromise.
"We're not submitting any more maps unless we have an agreement going in with the House Republicans or at least 33 members of the House and with the governor," said Senate President Pro-Tem Ed Perlmutter, a Jefferson County Democrat.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo, sponsored the only redistricting map to pass the Senate during the special session.
"Unless we work this out beforehand, there's no use in going through the motions," Thiebaut said.
"I actually have been negotiating with (House Majority Leader) Lola Spradley," Thiebaut said. "She's working on a map to show me."
Spradley, a Beulah Republican, said she wouldn't call her brief conversations with Thiebaut "negotiations."
Unless Senate Democrats demonstrate more willingness to compromise than they have so far, Spradley said, she won't show Thiebaut any congressional map she has drafted.
House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, said he called Thiebaut last week and suggested they co-sponsor a redistricting bill with the understanding that the Senate could amend it and the House could request a conference committee to work out their differences.
"I think it's juvenile to think we have to have an agreement up-front," Dean said. "That's not the way a bicameral legislature works."
Republicans accused Senate Democrats of refusing to compromise in the Legislature in the belief Thiebaut's map would prevail in court.
But Democrats may have second thoughts, since Coughlin indicated he probably will accept one of the 15 congressional maps submitted to his court over all others, rather than only part of one and part from others.
The suspicion is the judge may pick a Republican map that, unlike Thiebaut's version, would not split Denver into two congressional districts when historically the capital city has had one.
Hanging in the balance would be the southern part of the state, where Thiebaut proposes to put Colorado's new 7th Congressional District.
This so-called "Thiebaut district" would be based in Pueblo and include the rest of the Arkansas Valley, the southeastern corner of the state, San Luis Valley and southern El Paso County, reaching into downtown Colorado Springs.
"I absolutely would not negotiate away the unified Southern Colorado district," Thiebaut said.
Conversely, the governor vowed to veto any redistricting map that does not keep the San Luis Valley with the Western Slope in the 3rd Congressional District.
Owens said he also would reject any plan that splits Denver or disrupts existing congressional lines more than minimally necessary to add a seventh district.
The main Republican map submitted to Coughlin would keep the 3rd Congressional District close to its current boundaries, including most of Pueblo and all of the San Luis Valley with the Western Slope.
The GOP plan would leave the Lower Arkansas Valley in the 4th District on the Eastern Plains.
Attorneys for cities that say a new state Senate map has improperly split their communities, and attorneys supporting that map argued their cases before the Colorado Supreme Court on Monday.
Daniel J. Dunn, attorney for the six majority members of the Colorado Reapportionment Commission, said that map was constitutional despite the fact that it split 48 communities.
"Every one of our splits is justified by (ensuring) equal population" in each district, Dunn said. "If we don't have discretion, our job cannot be done."
But Robert N. Miller, representing the five dissenting commission members, said the commission did not follow basic guidelines, such as keeping cities and counties whole, making compact districts and keeping communities with similar interests together.
He urged the court to set up specific guidelines and tell the commission to redraw the map using those standards.
"Political mischief will occur if you have fuzzy standards," he said.
The court must decide by Feb. 13 whether the new state House and Senate maps, resulting from increases in population documented by the 2000 U.S. Census, are constitutional. The lines were drawn by the Reapportionment Commission, a group of six Democratic appointees and five Republicans.
The Republican minority filed objections to the maps with the high court, which is required to rule on the commission's work.
Miller said it was political considerations instead of constitutional standards that produced the map, and Dunn conceded that politics played a role but only after all the other standards were met.
The justices questioned both sides.
"I'm really trying to grasp why this plan is unconstitutional," said Justice Gregory Hobbs, pointing out that the opponents have just five fewer splits.
Miller said the majority that drew up the map didn't follow the priority the guidelines set on minimizing splits. He said computers can easily draw up a map with the fewest splits and the most cohesive areas.
Justice Nathan Coats wondered why a map with the fewest community splits wouldn't be best.
But Dunn argued that the commission had to take into account the fairest division of the map based on all the factors.
Attorneys from communities such as Boulder and Pueblo complained that their cities were unnecessarily split while Arapahoe County representatives said they received only three of the four state Senate seats they are entitled to.
Re: "Balanced selections," Dec. 16 Open Forum.
Contrary to state Sen. Ken Gordon's contention in his recent letter, the new state Senate map that the Colorado Reapportionment Commission's six Democrats approved (over the outraged objections of the five Republican commissioners) was no "moderate" outcome. It defies constitutional requirements, disenfranchises the people, and serves only the interests of the Democrat Party.
Voters passed a constitutional amendment to get rid of just this sort of thing, partly by giving a presumably impartial Supreme Court chief justice control of the most commission appointments.
Unfortunately, the "concerned citizens" she appointed this year were all partisans with strong, decades-long political allegiance to the Democrat Party.
Even if Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey tried to appoint people of "character and moderation," the fact that she conferenced with Democrat leaders from the House and Senate before making her appointments tainted both the process and her appointees.
The Democrats followed a partisan script from the beginning. They ignored constitutional priorities in favor of criteria that are not constitutional, but which will allow Democrats to maintain control of the state Senate even though Democrats only represent 30 percent of the electorate and are outnumbered by both Republicans and unaffiliated voters.
Their map is laughable. Boulder controls three Senate seats, Longmont and Broomfield have none. The three "farming" districts have most of their population in Highlands Ranch, Castle Rock and Pueblo. Two of three "farming" legislators will be from suburbia.
Democrat commissioners drew tentacles, hooks, twists and crescents as tools to pick winners and losers among the districts' voters. These "gerrymanders" - strangely shaped districts drawn to accomplish a political purpose - violate the state constitution. Republican maps showed simple, logical districts.
The Supreme Court must still review the commission's plan and rule on its legality. The constitution is clear, so their decision should be easy. They should uphold our constitution and protect the people of Colorado by sending the plan back to the commission with instructions to fix these obvious problems.
State Rep. Mark Paschall
The writer, a Republican, is a member of the reapportionment commission, appointed by House Speaker Doug Dean.
Objections to Colorado's proposed reapportionment plan arrived at the Colorado Supreme Court on Thursday, weighing in at 13 pounds of contentious, politically charged mapmaking.
Several of the 20 objections were filed just before the 5 p.m. deadline. Many opponents had a common theme: Don't cut communities in half.
An Adams County woman objects to her home county being split into four districts.
The Ute Water Conservation District does not want its reservoirs, watersheds and treatment plants in one Senate district and most of its customers in the other.
The heftiest of the objections came from the five Republican members of the state's re-apportionment committee.
They lost a 6-5 vote along partisan lines in which the commission approved a Senate re-districting plan known as the "Rodriguez 6b plan," named after Denver City Clerk Rosemary Rodriguez, a commission member and a Democrat.
Others argue they are being lumped with residents with whom they have less in common.
A group of Broomfield residents argue their new county is more pro-growth, more conservative group of commuters. Yet they are included with Boulder, which they describe as a town with more liberal, anti-growth politics.
The commission now has until Jan. 3 to reply to the objections. The court will hear arguments on Jan. 7.
Colorado is required to redraw its legislative districts every 10 years to reflect the latest U.S. Census Bureau data.
A state senator from Denver sided Thursday with Mayor Wellington Webb in urging that the city not be divided in any future congressional redistricting plan.
Sen. Penfield Tate appeared before Denver District Judge John Coughlin to urge that Denver continue to be the base for one of the state's congressional districts, as it is now.
His testimony came during a trial over congressional redistricting, which resumed after a five-day holiday break. Webb testified last week, as did many other political figures, including Gov. Bill Owens.
Judge Coughlin has said he will unveil his own congressional map for Colorado if legislators haven't agreed on a compromise by Jan. 25. Lawmakers failed to reach an agreement during a special session that ended in October. A new session is scheduled to begin Jan. 9.
During the special session, Democrats had pushed for a map that divided Denver into two districts, thus increasing the chances for their party to gain a seat. Republicans now hold four of the state's six seats. The state is gaining a seventh seat because of the population increase.
In arguing against dividing Denver, Tate outlined the city's uniqueness as a city and county, its ethnic diversity and the fact it has its own school district.
Republicans don't disagree with keeping the city whole, but they oppose Tate's proposal to create a Pueblo-based district in southeast Colorado, along with the San Luis Valley.
They also challenge a map Tate has offered because of the way it would split heavily Republican El Paso County and carve suburban Aurora into five congressional districts. Tate conceded it would be possible under his map for five of Colorado's representatives to each live within 20 miles of the Aurora Mall.
The solution seems so obvious now, maybe the judge is slapping himself on the head and wondering why he didn't think of it earlier. It could have saved him so much time, trouble and Boredom with a capital B.
To be sure, he got no help from the lawyers involved in the issue or from the media. He had to figure it out for himself.
Denver District Judge Judge John Coughlin, who is handling the congressional redistricting trial, let it be known the other day that he wasn't interested in retaining a computer map expert who would help him play around with the almost infinite number of boundaries proposed by the various parties.
He said he learned early on that even small changes in one district would require revising most or all of the other six districts. It's an amazingly complicated and time-consuming process, and he has other trials waiting.
His comments surprised the attorneys in the case. They had based their strategy on the assumption that he would eventually pick and choose from their various outrageously partisan maps, and each hoped he would get the largest slice of the cake.
Instead, said Coughlin, he is inclined to pick one of the actual maps submitted in its entirety.
Is that not a brilliant idea? It's too bad he didn't say something like that before the trial even began: "You all get to submit just a single map, and I'll pick the one I think is the fairest."
That would have forced everyone to be far more reasonable right from the start. And it would have shortened the testimony.
This concept is nothing new in litigation or arbitration. It's called high-low, or sometimes all-or-nothing. Baseball fans are aware that it's the method used by many players and baseball teams to settle salary disputes.
The player makes his best case for earning $X (or more likely $X,000,000) dollars a year, citing his most positive statistics. The club makes a counter-offer, citing statistics that demonstrate why he should only make $Y. The arbitrator has to choose one or the other. He cannot split the difference. That keeps the player from demanding too much or the club from offering too little.
Coughlin didn't do it quite right this time, but he came close. Before Christmas, and after several days of testimony, he had let it be known that he wasn't interested in splitting Denver or the Western Slope -- which various Democratic maps had proposed.
That prompted the attorneys representing the many parties in the case to spend the long Christmas weekend drawing up new maps incorporating his prejudices instead of assembling toys for their kids.
Still, the major parties produced fairer maps this past week. In fact, the Democrats, who earlier feared the Republicans had the upper hand (the GOP always wanted both Denver and Western Colorado kept whole), now think their own map has a better chance.
To be sure, Coughlin -- who all sides agree has proved to be fair and balanced in the proceedings -- didn't commit himself to picking a single submitted map. But he hinted that he might.
And 10 years from now, whatever judge handles the probable redistricting squabble should make it clear he or she will use the high-low system.
The fact that there are numerous intervenors in a redistricting case, not just the political parties, will ensure that all the maps are fairer from the beginning. If there are just two sides involved, as in a baseball dispute, you can take a risk. But if there are many, everyone is pulled more toward the middle.
Why didn't the lawyers suggest this strategy earlier? Perhaps it's because many of them are paid by the hour and there's no reason to shorten a trial. Why didn't we in the media suggest it? Probably because we're, well, slow.
Could the same high-low principle be applied to legislative reapportionment as well as congressional redistricting? Probably not, unless the existing Reapportionment Commission is allowed to submit two instead of one map to the state Supreme Court.
Peter Blake's column appears Wednesdays and Saturdays. Reach him at (303) 892-5119 or [email protected]
Mayor Wellington Webb asked a judge Thursday to not divide Denver when drawing new congressional district boundaries, even if it might mean his fellow Democrats could pick up an extra seat.
"I think it's just as important today to keep Denver whole as it was in the 1980s and 1990s," Webb said after rattling off a list of issues that make the core city different from its suburban neighbors.
Webb appeared before District Judge John Coughlin in the fourth day of a trial to determine how Colorado should be carved up into seven congressional districts based on new census figures.
At a special legislative session last fall, despite Webb's strong objections, Democrats in the Senate sliced Denver in half in hopes it would lead to an additional congressional seat for their party.
One of the seats would have a larger Hispanic constituency by joining it with Commerce City and parts of Aurora.
Republicans hold a 4-2 edge now in the state's delegation but Colorado picked up a seventh seat because of population gains over the past decade.
Because the legislature's Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate couldn't reach agreement on congressional redistricting at their special session, the job now rests with Judge Coughlin. He'll give legislators one more chance to finish the job, but will unveil his own map on Jan. 25 if they haven't reached a compromise by then.
Although Mayor Webb and Republican Gov. Bill Owens don't see eye-to-eye on several issues, Webb's testimony echoed what the governor said in court earlier this week -- namely that Denver should not be divided. Owens said he would have vetoed any bill that cut the city in half if it had reached his desk.
During his testimony, Webb explained how Denver was the sports and cultural center of Colorado, had the largest population of any city in the state and competed with its neighbors on issues such as highway funding.
Another big difference, he said, was Denver's "core value system" that recognizes cultural, ethnic and income diversity. The city voted against the anti-gay rights Amendment 2 which its neighbors supported.
Dividing Denver also could result in two representatives in Congress with neither actually living in the city. "More is not always better," he said.
House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, also testified.
"With all due respect to the court, it's the legislature's constitutional requirement to redistrict," Dean said. "Unfortunately we didn't do our job. No compromises came from the Democrats whatsoever."
Democrats in the state legislature endorsed a plan to redraw their voting districts statewide in paperwork filed Monday with the Colorado Supreme Court.
The current plan to redraw legislative voting districts was developed by an 11-member commission dominated by Democrats.
Democrats praised the plan in their filings Monday, and Democratic leaders of the Colorado Senate also asked the court to ignore a competing plan produced by a minority of commission members.
"The minority report is a red herring, of no compelling value and irrelevant to the court's task," Sens. Stan Matsunaka, Ed Perlmutter and Bill Thiebaut, all Democrats, wrote.
Colorado House Minority Leader Dan Grossman, a Democrat, said the plan's only fault is that it bent over backwards to give Republicans too many safe seats.
Opponents of the plan must file their views with the Colorado Supreme Court by Dec. 27.
Gov. Bill Owens said Monday in a Denver courtroom that he will veto any plan for congressional redistricting that doesn't meet his three criteria.
Owens' criteria, announced earlier, are to keep Denver whole, to connect the Western Slope and San Luis Valley, and "to do as little damage to existing congressional districts as possible."
Since an Owens veto is unlikely to be overridden in a legislature with split party control, his opinion may be the most compelling in the fight over how to split Colorado into seven congressional districts.
During an hour of questioning by a half-dozen attorneys, Owens was asked to locate cities on a blank state map with a red marker.
And he added a fourth test: "I would not knowingly sign a bill that violated the Voting Rights Act," he said. The act is designed to protect minority electoral clout.
Owens was the star witness as what's likely to be a seven- or eight-day trial opened in Judge John Coughlin's Denver District courtroom.
The judge has given the legislature until Jan. 25 to make one last try at remapping the state. If it doesn't, he'll issue a ruling then.
The state constitution makes the legislature responsible for redistricting after each 10-year census, but it was unable to agree during its regular session early this year or a special fall session.
Thirteen attorneys and two other parties to the case presented opening arguments Monday from 15 different perspectives. Neither of the two major parties has a monolithic position on how to divide Colorado into seven districts.
Some Democrats want to divide Denver; some don't. Some Republicans insist El Paso County must be left whole; others say it has a "community of interest" with Pueblo County to the south.
Owens, a Republican, is on the same side as Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, a Democrat, on the "keep Denver whole" argument.
But other Democrats want to divide the city, either to produce a stronger Hispanic congressional district, or simply to spread out Denver's large population of Democrats to make adjoining districts more politically "competitive."
Jean Dubofsky, lead attorney for the six Democrats who filed the court action last May 31, said Owens' criteria conflict and would produce a 5-2 split that favors Republicans.
Furthermore, she said, keeping Denver whole and combining the San Luis Valley with western Colorado would "substantially reduce the Latino influence" in congressional elections.
Mark Grueskin, Denver's attorney, rejected Republican arguments that the state's new seventh district should be in the Denver suburbs that have grown the fastest since the last census.
Gregory Graf, representing retiring U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, a Loveland Republican, argued against putting Larimer and Weld counties in different districts.
He disagreed, too, with Matt Werner, representing two residents of highly Republican El Paso County, who argued against putting the five military installations in the southern part of the county in the same district with Pueblo.
Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, said the goal of the Senate's Democratic majority was to create as many competitive districts as possible.
Colorado's congressional redistricting trial opens today with Denver District Judge John Coughlin presiding.
Coughlin has scheduled the non-jury trial for the entire week and will reconvene it on Dec. 27 after a Christmas break if necessary. The key date, however, is Jan. 25 - the deadline Coughlin has given the Colorado Legislature to pass and Gov. Bill Owens to sign a plan for redistricting now that the state qualifies for seven congressional districts.
If they fail, Coughlin - and ultimately, the Colorado Supreme Court on appeal - will decide.
The Legislature doesn't convene until Jan. 9, giving it just two weeks to accomplish what couldn't be done during a special session in the fall.
By filing the lawsuit last May, the Democratic Party launched a clever strategy of removing congressional mapping from the Legislature, which constitutionally is assigned that duty, into the state courts.
After all, six of the seven Colorado Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, were appointed by a Democrat, former Gov. Roy Romer.
Are judges political? Are you kidding?
"At the end of the day, I expect those lines will be drawn by the judge," Owens conceded at a Colorado Press Association legislative forum last week. He doesn't have to like it, though.
Republicans are furious, a pathetic state for the party that controlled the Legislature for an almost unbroken 40 years.
In the fall, the Republican House passed a half-dozen redistricting plans favorable to the GOP. All died in the Democratic Senate, which sent over one and only one plan, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut of Pueblo.
Democratic lawyers Dean Neuwirth and Jean Dubofksy, herself a former Colorado Supreme Court justice, will push the Thiebaut plan above perhaps 18 others submitted at trial.
It would focus Colorado's new 7th Congressional District on Pueblo and surrounding counties, including a large, though slightly outnumbered population in southern El Paso County and downtown Colorado Springs.
Predictably, Congressman Joel Hefley, a Colorado Springs Republican, submitted five plans, each meant to keep El Paso County whole in his 5th District.
Although Denis Berckefeldt, Thiebaut's chief legislative aide, helped on the Democratic Party plan, he has submitted one of his own, which among other things would split the Western Slope.
Conversely, Republican House Speaker Doug Dean wants the Legislature to consider his map, which would keep the Western Slope whole in the 3rd District, joined by the San Luis Valley, Custer County and a large part of the city of Pueblo and Pueblo West.
Dean's plan virtually guarantees the GOP five of the seven congressional seats. He must have been kidding when he said the 3rd District was competitive when a popular Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, is still running.
In this case, clever legal strategy trumps political posturing every time.
If all of the intervenors show up in person for the congressional redistricting hearing beginning today, Judge John Coughlin's courtroom could be the political center of the Colorado universe for the next week.
The Denver-based state District Court judge will be listening to arguments for and against a variety of maps reconfiguring the state into seven congressional districts.
Gov. Bill Owens and Denver Mayor Wellington Webb are among the parties to the action.
Owens is tentatively scheduled to testify this afternoon; Webb is on the schedule for Thursday. Those times are subject to change, however.
Four members of Congress also are on the list of intervenors.
Colorado has six seats in the U.S. House. It's adding a seventh as a result of population growth reported in the 2000 federal census.
The 100 state lawmakers didn't agree on a congressional redistricting plan during a special session this year.
Republicans, who control the House, proposed a number of plans, arguing that they should have the lion's share of the seats because they have nearly 170,000 more registered voters than the Democrats.
Most of their plans theoretically would have given the GOP a 5-2 advantage, or a 4-2-1 edge, with one seat that could go either way.
Democrats, who control the state Senate, want a 3-3-1 plan. They argued that the state's unaffiliated voters, one-third of the total of 2.8 million, should be considered.
Owens did not submit a map, but suggested three guidelines: "1. Avoid splitting municipalities, particularly Denver. 2. Keep the West Slope and San Luis Valley whole. 3. Minimize disruption of existing congressional boundaries."
Webb also is opposed to splitting Denver although that puts him at odds with other Democrats in the state party. They want to mine Denver's lode of Democrats, parceling them out into adjoining districts to give their party a better chance of winning more seats.
Coughlin has said he won't rule on the case until Jan. 25, giving the legislature, which returns Jan. 9, a last chance to find a compromise.
The case before him was filed May 31 by six Democrats. Republicans filed Sept. 26 in federal district court, but a three-judge panel there has put off further action until Jan. 28, three days after Coughlin's deadline for a ruling.
Democrats say that, if all else fails, the state court should draw the boundaries. Republicans say the federal court should be the mapmaker of last resort.
A federal court panel Thursday deferred to the Colorado state courts in the face of conflicting lawsuits over congressional redistricting.
U.S. District Judge Zita Weinshienk and Circuit Court of Appeals Judges John Porfilio and Dave Ebel declined to set a trial date in the federal case, brought by Republicans.
Instead, they deferred to a state case brought by Democrats in Denver District Court.
Federal judges' hands are tied by a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision giving primary jurisdiction over congressional redistricting disputes to the state courts.
A dispute exists in Colorado because the Legislature, which is supposed to redistrict, has been stalemated between the Republican-controlled House and Democratic Senate.
As a result, Denver District Judge John Coughlin has scheduled a trial to begin Dec. 17 on the Democratic lawsuit, which seeks approval of a congressional map drawn by Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo.
Coughlin said he will take evidence for several days, then withhold his decision until Jan. 25, thus giving the Legislature two weeks after it reconvenes on Jan. 9 to break the deadlock.
Prospects appear dim that legislators will strike a compromise in the allotted time.
More likely is that Coughlin, and then the Colorado Supreme Court on appeal, will make the decision.
Only if all the state functionaries fail would the federal panel intervene.
The federal judges requested only a status report from lawyers on the state case by Jan. 28 - three days after Coughlin has promised to rule in the event the Legislature fails to pass a plan.
Coughlin has received 19 plans - six Democratic and 13 Republican - although lawyers on both sides said they are trying to pare the number below a dozen to expedite the lawsuit.
Democratic Party lawyers Jean Dubofsky and Dean Neuwirth are pushing the Thiebaut plan, which would create Colorado's new 7th Congressional District in the southern part of the state.
Thiebaut's plan would base the new district in Pueblo, fanning out to the rest of the Arkansas River Basin, the entire San Luis Valley and southern El Paso County into downtown Colorado Springs.
Not all Democrats agree, however. Denver Mayor Wellington Webb objects to the Thiebaut plan for splitting Denver among three or four congressional districts even though the design is to elect more Democrats.
Colorado currently has four Republicans and two Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
GOP Congressman Joel Hefley of Colorado Springs has submitted five plans of his own, all attempting to keep El Paso County whole in his 5th Congressional District.
While promoting competing plans, lawyers agreed on some urgency in drawing new congressional lines in time for the 2002 election cycle.
The first key deadline is Feb. 13 for election officials to receive a final map so the counties may realign precinct boundaries to coincide with both congressional legislative districts.
County clerks will do the work, and state law requires county commissioners to hold hearings and adopt their precinct lines by March 11.
Precinct caucuses are scheduled by law for April 9, when the first delegates are chosen to nominate major party candidates for office. State and district nominating assemblies must be completed by June 10. The party primary elections are scheduled for Aug. 13.
Ten years ago, the Colorado Supreme Court missed the first deadline for precinct maps. Hastily, the Legislature amended the law to slip the 1992 deadlines long enough to get a congressional map.
The federal judges Thursday talked about a "doomsday scenario" where nothing would be decided well into the election cycle.
In that unlikely event, the court could opt to leave the current six congressional districts intact and elect Colorado's seventh representative at-large by a statewide vote.
One of the lawyers pointed out the current six districts vary widely in population - from 662,711 in Denver's 1st District to 810,423 in Hefley's 5th District - so the entire election could be challenged on constitutional equal protection grounds.
Judge Porfilio then hypothesized that all seven members of Congress could be elected statewide in 2002. That would give extra time for district boundaries to be delineated by the 2004 election.
It appears to me that the top Republicans of Colorado need a refresher course in basic math when it comes to congressional redistricting. I have heard or read over and over that because there are about 170,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in the state, our new congressional district should be drawn so a Republican will be elected from it, thus giving the Republicans five representatives to the Democrats' two. Maybe this is "new" math, but here are the facts.
There are about 970,000 registered Republicans and 800,000 registered Democrats. If our Republican friends could manipulate fractions, they'd see that out of every seven voters registered Republican or Democrat, 3.2 are Democrat and 3.8 are Republican. Let's round it and say that out of every seven, three are Democrats and four are Republicans. Therefore, to fairly represent Colorado we should send three Democrats and four Republicans to the U.S. House of Representatives. It follows then that since we already have four Republican and two Democratic congressmen, the new district should be drawn so that we send an additional Democrat.
The sad truth is that the Republican leaders do have these numbers and they can do fractions. It's a good bet that they took basic math in grade school. The pity is they have chosen to grab and hold as much power for themselves as they possibly can, while ignoring any option for fairly representing the people of Colorado.
The Colorado Reapportionment Commission is intended to be an independent group, created by a 1974 constitutional amendment to take the highly political job of mapping legislative districts away from self-interested lawmakers.
But "independent" is not the same as "nonpartisan," and that has been apparent since the commission sat down to work last May.
The panel finished its task this week in a partisan snit, voting 6-5 to submit a plan for reconfiguring the 35 state Senate districts.
The vote Tuesday night was along party lines, with the commission's six Democrats prevailing. The five Republicans demanded - and got, on a hard-fought 7-4 vote - the right to submit another Senate plan as their minority report.
Those maps, together with a House plan adopted a week earlier, now go to the Colorado Supreme Court for review. The court could reject one or both of the official plans, and return them to the commission for more work. Or it could draw its own plan, using any of the multitudes of other proposals that came forward, including the Republicans' Senate minority report.
Whatever the outcome, there's a Feb. 13 deadline to adopt a final plan. That allows local authorities time to fit the right precincts into the appropriate districts before the candidate nominating process begins in March. Districts must be remapped after each 10-year U.S. census to reflect population shifts.
The Senate vote contrasted sharply with a 10-1 vote the week before to reconfigure the state's 65 House districts. But that final vote was misleading; a key provision of the plan, putting two Republican representatives in the same House district, was adopted earlier along the familiar 6-5 party-line split.
One of those representatives, Brad Young of Lamar, says he's working on a proposal to replace the commission with a 12-member panel appointed by legislative leaders, with six members from each major party.
"Should they decide to be partisan, they'd be deadlocked," said Young, currently the chairman of the legislature's powerful Joint Budget Committee. The even split would force them to be more cooperative, he figures.
His plan would require a constitutional amendment, and it would have to be referred to voters by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate.
Young is paired with Rep. Ken Kester of Las Animas in the same district, but Young, anticipating that outcome, some time ago rented a house in an adjoining district, one without an incumbent, to establish residency there.
The Senate plan also puts two Republicans in the same district - Senate Minority Leader John Andrews of Centennial and Sen. John Evans of Parker. Evans' current term ends in 2002; Andrews has until 2004, so he gets to keep the seat.
The House plan was accepted more readily because Republicans figure it still leaves them a House majority - possibly a 35-30 advantage, by some estimates, down from the current 38-27.
In the Senate, however, the Democrats' current 18-17 edge, their first majority in 40 years, could go to 19-16, depending on how appealing their candidates are to voters.
"This is not the radical, partisan power grab" that Republicans characterize it as, said House Minority Leader Dan Grossman, D-Denver, a commission member.
The House plan is printed below, showing both the state and an enlargement of metro-area districts. It and the Senate map, which will be printed in an upcoming edition, may be seen online at www.state.co.us. Click on "Colorado Redistricting & Reapportionment."
Don't look for Ray Koester to throw a party if Pueblo scores a redistricting trifecta by gaining more favorable seats in Congress, the state Senate and the state House.
While glad for any boost in Pueblo's political clout, Koester, chair of the Pueblo Republican Party, said he sees storm clouds ahead since the move also would restore Democrats' stronghold on local politics.
As time goes by, Pueblo Democrats could abandon their bipartisan voting pattern of recent years, a period when Pueblo elected as many Republicans as Democrats, Koester said Tuesday.
"We've got good people (among Democrats) that are in there and that are running - if they wouldn't be so doggone partisan when they get in there," Koester said.
The local GOP, faced with the prospect of even bleaker voter registration blocs, would need to win over even greater support from independents under the proposed setup, Koester said.
"We're going to try to get more of our Republican people active, and get some of those that are declared independent to be active," Koester said.
Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 in Pueblo County.
Party politics aside, the proposals - now making their way toward final decisions - would give Pueblo a bigger place at the table in legislative affairs.
On Monday, the state redistricting panel - with a Democrat majority - approved a plan on a party line vote that gives Pueblo a chance to win two state Senate seats.
Earlier in the fall, the same panel - this time in a somewhat less-partisan decision - voted to rearrange state House districts to the liking of Pueblo Democrats.
Each plan now awaits state Supreme Court review.
Meanwhile, state and local Democrats continue their fight to make Southern Colorado a stand-alone congressional district, cutting ties with the Republican-leaning Western Slope.
The negotiations within the Legislature continue.
If all three plans are approved, Pueblo would be in position to greatly influence a Congressional seat, two state Senate seats and three state House seats starting in the 2002 elections.
A fourth state House seat would still extend into western Pueblo County. The seat is now held by Rep. Lola Spradley, R-Beulah, a longtime advocate for Pueblo who is in line to serve as House speaker.
Pueblo state Sen. Bill Thiebaut, a Democrat member of the redistricting panel and also a key player behind a unified Southern Colorado congressional district, calls the plans good for Southern Colorado.
And while some view the plans as also pro-Democrat, many of the individual political districts will remain competitive among Democrats and Republicans, Thiebaut said.
The process of redistricting drew the biggest complaints from Koester.
The approach appeared suspect starting with the decision by Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey of the state Supreme Court, a Democrat appointee, to load the state redistricting panel with Democrats, Koester said.
He does not think the court will alter any of the final plans, Koester said. Among the other justices on the court is Alex Martinez, formerly of Pueblo, also a Democrat appointee.
Koester also singled out Thiebaut for criticism, saying he "started drawing lines even before there was a committee, trying to get the votes lined up."
Koester also noted that at Pueblo's recent public hearing on redistricting, there was little talk of any plan to split Pueblo to spread its Democrat base among two separate state Senate districts.
Of those counties that were split for political purposes, the redistricting panel, including Thiebaut, heard plenty of complaints, Koester said.
"I think Canon City and Fremont County (divided among several House districts) made about as loud of pitch as anybody and it (the latest proposal) doesn't change it," Koester said.
Pueblo will be linked up with Fountain-Fort Carson in one state Senate district and with the Eastern Plains in another under a Colorado Reapportionment Commission plan adopted by a 6-5 vote Tuesday night.
The commission's six Democrats carried the party-line vote over the five Republicans.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo, offered the plan under the name of Commission Chairwoman Rosemary Rodriguez, a Democrat who is Denver city-county clerk.
"I think the map meets constitutional scrutiny," Thiebaut said of an upcoming review by the Colorado Supreme Court.
The timetable is for the court to rule by early February, so officials may prepare precinct boundaries to coincide with House and Senate districts by the 2002 election cycle starting next spring.
The commission adopted the House plan by a 10-1 vote last week.
By contrast, the Senate plan was more contentiously partisan. Democrats hold a narrow 18-17 margin - their first majority in nearly 40 years - and Republicans want it back.
All four Democrats appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey joined with Thiebaut and House Democratic Leader Dan Grossman of Denver in voting for the Senate plan over vehement objections by Republicans.
Pueblo currently includes Senate Districts 3 and 5, but the numbers will change under the plan.
Unless the court orders amendments, the plan will put slightly over half of the city of Pueblo, Pueblo West and northwestern parts of the county into Senate District 4 (currently Senate District 3), coupled with Fountain and Fort Carson.
A new Senate District 3 (currently Senate District 2) will couple the Eastern Plains, from Cheyenne to Las Animas counties, with the rest of Pueblo south of the Beulah Highway and Northern Avenue, then east of Interstate 25 and south of East Fourth Street, encompassing the Lower East Side and St. Charles Mesa.
As Thiebaut envisions it, this allows the winner of an expected Democratic primary between state Rep. Abel Tapia and City Council President Al Gurule to have a voter registration and Pueblo population advantage over any candidate from southern El Paso County in Senate District 4.
It will be an open seat since Thiebaut is term-limited and cannot run again.
Another open seat will be created in new Senate District 3.
The Eastern Plains currently are represented by Sen. Mark Hillman, R-Burlington, whose Senate District 2 is being moved into the Castle Rock area of Douglas County, instead.
Pueblo County Commissioner John Klomp, a Democrat, has expressed interest in running for the new rural district.
As drawn, it combines 50,000 people in Pueblo County with 70,000 people living in the rural area encompassing Trinidad, La Junta, Lamar and Eads north into Cheyenne County.
The fallout of this dramatic remapping is that Senate District 5, represented by Sen. Lewis Entz, R-Hooper, will no longer include any of Pueblo County. The San Luis Valley-based district will swing north, instead, into Fremont and Teller counties.
In effect, Democrats conceded Entz a stronger GOP district than he currently has, while improving Democratic chances of winning two Senate districts out of Pueblo, rather than the lone seat now held by Thiebaut.
Democrats wanted a plan to protect or even increase their newfound 18-17 Senate majority.
Other key Senate districts in the Democratic strategy are in Jefferson and Larimer counties. Both Democratic incumbents, Sens. Stan Matsunaka of Loveland and Ed Perlmutter of Golden, are term-limited and cannot run again.
Another key race is looming in the southwestern corner of the state between Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, and likely Republican challenger Rep. Kay Alexander of Montrose.
Thiebaut touted the plan as offering more rural representation in the Senate with three districts on the eastern border to Kansas and three districts on the western border next to Utah.
The Pueblo Democrat said it also should be good for Southern Colorado. Thiebaut compared it with a congressional redistricting plan that he authored for making Pueblo the hub of a U.S. House District - also coupled with southern El Paso County.
The commission agreed by a 7-4 vote to let a Republican minority report, authored by former Sen. Jeff Wells of Colorado Springs, to be submitted to the Supreme Court, as well.
Wells's main argument to the court will be that his plan splits only eight counties, while the adopted Democratic plan splits 20 counties - many times needlessly, in his view.
He contended that the constitution requires as few county splits as possible while creating districts of nearly equal populations.
Democrats countered that court rulings favor a "totality of the circumstances," including local communities of interest and other factors as well as preserving county lines.
Heather Witwer, a Denver Republican on the commission, chided Thiebaut for meeting last spring, before the commission was formed, with Chief Justice Mullarkey about the court appointments.
Witwer accused Democrats of drawing the Senate map to get around a 170,000 voter-registration edge for Republicans statewide.
"I don't think you have any right to try and change their representation or influence in the General Assembly," she said.
Sandy Hume, a Boulder Republican on the commission, said his county's part of the plan "looks like, feels like and quacks like gerrymandering."
"To some extent, we do have a partisan steamroller here. There are six of you (Democrats) and five of us," Hume said.
On the other hand, Kathleen Beatty, a Democrat appointed by the chief justice, said she was subjected to political attacks for serving on the commission while also being dean of the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado.
"It's been very painful for me personally," Beatty said.
Although she wasn't specific, some Republicans reportedly criticized the CU dean for being involved in the political process. Beatty said only that there were "real or implied threats against the school" she heads.
Districts by the numbers
The ideal Colorado Senate district would have a population of 122,893, based on dividing the state's 4.3 million people by 35 districts.
Senate District 4
Senate District 5
Senate District 3
Senate District 9
For Republicans, the unthinkable happened.
But for Democrats, it's a dream come true.
Why? The GOP lock on General Assembly seats may be broken in 2002 under a reapportionment plan approved Tuesday.
The layouts of Districts 11 and 3 were rearranged under the final statewide plan -- by a 6-5 vote of the Reapportionment Commission -- giving Democratic Senate candidates a better shot at winning at the polls.
El Paso County Democrats were shut out in General Assembly races in 2000 and there are no Democrats in the county's Statehouse delegation.
But Democratic members of the commission say they weren't trying to put forward a purely partisan plan, they just want to keep communities with similar interests together. There are six Democrats on the commission, and the vote was along party lines.
"Overall, it is balanced, it makes sense and it gives the people an opportunity to send representatives to the General Assembly that truly represent them," said Sen. Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo, a member of the commission.
But Sen. Mark Hillman, R-Burlington, accused Democratic members of attempting to "slice and dice to come up with districts the (Democrats) prefer."
District 11 would encompass most of Old Colorado City, a portion of downtown Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. The district basically includes the local areas with the highest Democratic voter registration numbers.
While the district would still have a majority of Republicans within it, Democrats have reason to be optimistic: Democratic causes and candidates have been competitive in the past. For instance, 49 percent of voters within the boundaries of the proposed district cast ballots in favor of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gail Schoettler in 1998.
District 3 would be even more Democratic, with the GOP voters outnumbered almost 2-to-1. The district would place portions of northwest Pueblo in a district that also would include Fountain and Fort Carson.
The district makes sense, Thiebaut said, because many people who live in southern El Paso County work in Pueblo.
While Democrats describe the statewide plan as one that is fair and balanced, Republicans say they were railroaded and the final plan could be unconstitutional.
Former state Sen. Jeff Wells, a Colorado Springs Republican, contends Democrats did not adhere to a constitutional mandate to keep counties whole as often as possible. Wells contends that Republican maps would have divided fewer counties.
The debate now shifts to the Colorado Supreme Court.The court will review the final plans for the House and Senate and can accept them -- making them the law of the land for the next decade -- or force the commission to reconsider the plans.
Democrats are pleased with the final maps, but some Republican members would like another shot.
"I don't think it serves the people of Colorado. I think it serves the (Democratic) party," said Rep. Mark Paschall, R-Arvada, a member of the commission. "I hope the court will remand it back to us."
Gov. Bill Owens weighed in with his own proposal to resolve a dispute over congressional redistricting Monday, filing his suggestions for a settlement with a Denver District Court judge hearing the case.
The governor told the judge any final map should avoid splitting municipalities including Denver, keep the Western Slope and San Luis Valley whole and minimize disruption to existing districts.
"Any map consistent with these three principles will ensure effective representation for the decade to come," Owens said.
Monday was the deadline for submitting congressional redistricting plans to the court.
Owens said Denver has had a unified voice in Congress in the past and should keep it. He said keeping current lines benefits voters and the state, giving the state's representatives a good chance for seniority and leadership positions.
The governor said the Western Slope and San Luis Valley are part of the largest community of interest in the state, involved in tourism, agriculture, grazing, water and the environment, and should be kept intact.
He said the new 7th Congressional District should go where the state has had the greatest growth. The governor was not specific, but other Republicans said that includes Arapahoe and Douglas counties.
Dani Newsum, spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party, said Democrats oppose the governor's recommendations.
She said the new district should be centered around Pueblo, where the Hispanic population has grown.
She said the governor wants Denver in one district to keep Democrats from having a chance at winning another district.
Republicans now control four seats and Democrats two, including Denver.
Denver District Judge John Coughlin plans to proceed as scheduled with a trial next month to draw new congressional district boundary lines.
The judge last month rejected a motion that he dismiss the case and let it be handled in federal court, where a similar lawsuit has been filed over the state Legislature's failure to draw new lines.
Coughlin scheduled trial for Dec. 17 to redraw the boundary lines but said he won't announce a decision until Jan. 25 to give legislators one last chance to carry out the task themselves.
Colorado must redraw the boundary lines for six existing districts and add a seventh because of population gains over the last decade.
The Colorado Reapportionment Commission hit a political roadblock Tuesday night and postponed until next week voting on a final redistricting plan for state Senate districts.
After fairly smooth sailing Monday in adopting a final House plan, the six Democrats and five Republicans on the commission found themselves mired in a partisan quagmire over the Senate.
Both sides knew when they started six months ago that the Senate would be the sticking point.
Democrats took control of the Colorado Senate this year by a razor-thin 18-17 majority after 40 years of unbroken Republican rule. Both parties desperately want a plan to tip the balance their way.
Even after more than seven hours of intense negotiations Tuesday, the warring sides decided to take a long Thanksgiving weekend and reconvene next Tuesday for another stab at a Senate map.
"I really think the Democrats in the negotiations were acting in good faith as much as the Republicans were," Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo, said as the evening wore on.
Thiebaut was reacting to a political blast from Rep. Mark Paschall, an Arvada Republican who accused the Democrats of putting partisanship ahead of constitutional requirements.
"It's all about power - not about negotiating in good faith, not about the constitution," Paschall charged.
House Democratic Leader Dan Grossman of Denver said he took personal offense to the charge.
The issue at hand was a plan, submitted by Thiebaut under commission chairwoman Rosemary Rodriguez's name, that would have carved out a new Democratic-leaning Senate seat in Pueblo by linking 50,000 people in southern parts of the city and the county with a normally GOP district on the Eastern Plains.
Thiebaut eventually withdrew the plan, which also would have created a Pueblo-dominated Senate district engulfing a smaller portion of El Paso County south of Colorado Springs.
No one knew if the plan will surface again when the commission reconvenes next week.
Meanwhile, Democrats objected to an alternative by Republican Jeff Wells of Colorado Springs that would eliminate a Jefferson County district currently held by term-limited Sen. Ed Perlmutter.
The commission is under some time pressure. At least one member, Republican Heather Witwer of Denver, has to travel out of state next Wednesday.
More significantly, the commission has a Dec. 7 deadline for submitting both the House and Senate plans for constitutional review by the Colorado Supreme Court.
Constitutional law, both in the law and court interpretations, sets standards for legislative redistricting.
The first is the so-called "one-man, one-vote" rule requiring districts to be substantially equal in population, although the courts allow deviations of up to 5 percent.
Districts should be compact and not gerrymandered to take on bizarre shapes.
Counties are not to be split except when necessary to meet the equal-population standard. When possible, districts also should preserve the integrity of municipal boundaries, as well.
Redistricting is supposed to recognize communities of interest, including ethnic, cultural, economic, trade area, geographic and demographic factors.
Some courts have recognized as a lesser value the chance for politically competitive districts without a large voter registration edge for one party over the other.
The ideal Colorado Senate district would have a population of 122,893, based on dividing the state's 4.3 million people by 35 districts.
The Colorado Reapportionment Commission voted 10-1 Tuesday for a final plan of new state districts and will work on a final Senate plan today.
The commission has a Dec. 7 deadline for submitting the legislative redistricting plans to the Colorado Supreme Court, which will review them for constitutionality.
Commissioners debated last-minute amendments to the plan for Colorado's 65 House districts. Except for moving Prowers County out of Rep. Brad Young's House District 63 and Crowley County into it, they made no major changes Tuesday.
Sandy Hume, a Republican member of the commission and Boulder County treasurer, cast the lone dissenting vote against the House plan in protest over the way it split the city of Longmont.
"The work they did in Longmont was the worst part of the plan," Hume said. "I won't ignore the fact that they chopped up Boulder County."
No one offered substantive amendments to the plan for Pueblo, Fremont County and the San Luis Valley.
The only Pueblo change was essentially technical. The commission voted 11-0 to "square off" the boundary between House Districts 45 and 46 at the southwest corner of Pueblo Boulevard and U.S. 50 West.
This involved moving only one precinct - with 29 switching from District 45 into District 46. The net effect was to make the districts subtly more compact, one of the minor constitutional requirements of redistricting. Pueblo's East Side has contributed about 17,000 people to the San Luis Valley-based House District 60 since a federal court ruled in 1996 that Hispanics there be given an opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice to the Legislature.
That ruling was interpreted as a virtual mandate for a "majority-minority" House District 60 with a 50 percent Hispanic voting age population.
The new plan calls for perpetuating it, only this time restoring almost all of the San Luis Valley to the district and adding still more Hispanics from Pueblo's minority Bessemer area to it.
Dan Dunn, the commission's lawyer, said the 1996 ruling was based on a federal court's acceptance of a consultant's finding of racial bloc voting in the San Luis Valley before 1992.
According to Dunn, Lisa Handley, the lead consultant from Washington, D.C., updated the analysis with subsequent election returns and reaffirmed her own earlier finding that racial bloc voting still exists in the valley.
The ideal House district would have a population of 66,173, based on the state's 4.3 million people divided by 65 districts:
SOUTHERN COLORADO AREA DISTRICTS
House District 44
House District 45
House District 46
House District 47
House District 60
House District 63
Editor's Note: House District 61, represented by Carl Miller, D-Leadville, currently includes Chaffee County in the Upper Arkansas Valley and parts of the San Luis Valley. Under the reapportionment plan, the district would lose all area ties and shift into mountain ski country to the west.
Denver District Judge John Coughlin said Thursday he plans to proceed as scheduled with a trial to draw new congressional district boundary lines in Colorado.
The judge rejected a motion that he dismiss the case and let it be handled in federal court, where a similar lawsuit has been filed over the state legislature's failure to draw new lines.
"At this time, the state court is the proper court in which to proceed," Coughlin ruled. "Certainly the federal court can exercise jurisdiction if a redistricting plan is not timely developed either by the legislature or the judicial.
"But until such time, it is clear under federal law that the federal court defers to state action."
The ruling came as no surprise to either side. Democrats want the case kept in state court, while Republicans want the federal courts to handle it.
"It was just a procedural skirmish, and it's not over yet," Chris Paulson, a lawyer on the GOP side of the battle, said.
"We are very happy with the decision," Thomas Downey, a lawyer representing Democrats, said. "We agree with the court that the proper jurisdiction lies in the state court."
Coughlin has scheduled a trial for Dec. 17 to redraw the boundary lines, but he has said he won't announce a decision until Jan. 25 to give legislators one last chance to carry out the task themselves.
Colorado must redraw the boundary lines for six existing districts and add a seventh because of population gains over the last decade. Legislators failed at a special session that ended last month to reach any consensus.
Coughlin rejected arguments that the case was not "ripe" at the time that it was filed before him in May and that the proper parties were not involved since Secretary of State Donetta Davidson was the only defendant when the lawsuit was initially brought.
"At the status conference held in this case, all parties agreed that time is running out," Coughlin wrote. "There can be no doubt that the case is now ripe."
He also pointed out that since the filing was made, numerous parties have intervened, including the governor, the speaker of the Colorado House, all six of the state's congressional members or their constituents, Republican and Democratic leadership in the legislature and interested voters.
"There can be no doubt that the proper parties are before the court," the judge ruled.