Colorado's Redistricting News
(January 16, 2002-February 5, 2002)


 Rocky Mountain News : "Republicans will appeal redistricting." February 5, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News: "Lawmakers going back to court." February 4, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News : "Redistricting presents challenges." February 4, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News: "Voters could have bigger impact on Legislature in primary than general." February 4, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News : "Republicans unlikely to appeal congressional map." January 30, 2002
 Pueblo Chieftain: "Supreme Court rejects Senate, OKs House reapportionment." January 29, 2002
 Denver Post: "Colorado justices reject state Senate remap." January 29, 2002
 Denver Post: "Candidates lining up after remap ruling." January 27, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News: "New district, new challenges: Representatives' constituencies change with plan." January 26, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News: "Fresh candidates arise in wake of redistricting." January 26, 2002
 Rocky Mounatin News : "GOP choking on judge's doughnut." January 26, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News: "Judge picks lines for 7th District: Congressional redistricting map angers state GOP." January 26, 2002
 Denver Post : "Dems laud remap plan." January 26, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News: "Judge rules in Dean's favor." January 25, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News: "Reaction: What others said." January 25, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News: "Judge rules in Democrats' favor." January 25, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News: "Map issue lands in judge's lap." January 25, 2002
 Denver Post: "Redistricting judge 'decisive'." January 24, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News: "Stalemate over new districts continues." January 22, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News: "Speaker accuses Senate of delay on redistricting." January 21, 2002
 Denver Post: "Senate faces deadline on redistricting plan." January 20, 2002
 Rocky Mountain News : "House approves redistricting plan." January 16, 2002

More recent redistricting news from Colorado

Colorado Redistricting News from November 16, 2001-January 15, 2002

Colorado Redistricting News from October 2-October 29, 2001

Colorado Redistricting News from February 19-September 27, 2001

Rocky Mountain News
Republicans will appeal redistricting: Among other points, brief to ask federal court to decide
By John Sanko
February 5, 2002

The court fight over Colorado's congressional redistricting map isn't over.

Former Republican House Majority Leader Chris Paulson said Monday that he filed notice of appeal in Denver district court on behalf of several GOP intervenors and Jerry Groswold, chairman of Club 20, a Western Slope advocacy group.

"Time is short," Paulson said. "This is too important a matter not to ask another court to take another look at it. It's not a done deal."

Paulson said he expected to file a motion detailing reasons for the appeal by week's end and that he would ask that the case be advanced straight to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Denver District Court Judge John Coughlin unveiled a seven-district map on Jan. 25 that was based on the 2000 Census figures after state lawmakers were unable to reach agreement.

There were 15 parties involved in the dispute, but most indicated they had no interest in appealing, though there was some grumbling by Republicans over creation of a new 7th congressional district around the northern half of Denver.

Republicans had hoped the new district would be created in heavily Republican and rapid-growth areas like Arapahoe and Douglas counties. Instead, the new district is about equally parceled among Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Attorney Tom Downey, who represented House Democratic leader Dan Grossman in the congressional redistricting dispute, said he doubted an appeal could succeed.

"The House (Democratic) minority welcomes the opportunity to defend a constitutional and fair congressional plan," said Downey. "It (the new congressional map approved by Coughlin) accurately represents Republican, Democrats and independents alike."

Paulson said the appeal brief will cite three grounds.

He said the Coughlin map dilutes the Hispanic population in District 1, dropping the percentage from 33.38 percent to 29.99 percent.

That also was an issue cited last week by House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs. However, Dean noted that the two intervenors for Hispanic interests in the court action weren't interested in joining an appeal on that issue.

"Without their support, it seems futile to file an appeal on the basis of the Voters' Rights Act," Dean said.

In his decision, Coughlin noted that the dilution of the Hispanic population in District 1 could be reversed by putting Cherry Hills Village in District 6 and moving a part of District 6 in southwest Arapahoe County into District 1.

"The problem is that he didn't do it," Paulson said.

Paulson also claimed that Coughlin's ruling failed to comply with constitutional requirements as outlined 20 years ago when a three-judge federal court panel drew the boundary lines after legislators and then Gov. Dick Lamm couldn't agree.

The third cause of action, Paulson said, is the contention that redistricting is a matter that should be decided by a federal rather than a state court.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo, said Democrats are planning to challenge a 4-3 ruling by the state Supreme Court on new state legislative districts.

He said the basis of the appeal is still being decided.

The court rejected legislative districts drawn by the Reapportionment Commission, siding with Republicans, and ordered the commission to return to work to meet a Feb. 15 deadline.

 

Rocky Mountain News
Lawmakers going back to court
By Steven K. Paulson
February 4, 2002

Republicans and Democrats on Monday said they were going back to court on reapportionment and redistricting: Republicans to appeal a decision on new congressional districts and Democrats on legislative districts.

Both sides were unhappy with court decisions that were handed down to establish new districts for this year's congressional and legislative races based on the latest census.

Chris Paulson, a lawyer representing the state Republican Party and Western Slope leaders, said he filed notice Friday with the state Court of Appeals and will challenge the new congressional districts because of claims they violate state law.

"We'll ask that the Supreme Court take it. The courts have to move fast," Paulson said.

He said Denver District Court Judge John Coughlin chose the wrong map, violating previous court principles for redistricting. He said the judge's map reduces minority voting in the 1st Congressional District.

The new map cuts black representation from 11 percent to 10 percent and Hispanic voters from 33 percent to 30 percent, while increasing white voters from 50 percent to 54 percent in the Denver area.

Republicans said that could violate the federal Voting Rights Act. Coughlin said a change of up to 4 percentage points in minority voting strength was not considered significant in a previous Supreme Court decision.

Sen. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, said the map does not discriminate against minorities.

"I think they have an uphill battle," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo, said Democrats are planning to challenge a 4-3 ruling by the state Supreme Court on new legislative districts, asking the court to reconsider.

He said the basis of the appeal is still being decided.

"Our lawyers are looking at the different points now," he said.

The court rejected legislative districts drawn by the Reapportionment Commission, siding with Republicans, and ordered the commission to return to work to meet a Feb. 15 deadline.

The high court said the commission failed to comply with a state law that prohibits districts from dividing counties and cities, including Adams, Arapahoe and Mesa counties.

Sen. Mark Hillman, R-Burlington, a member of the Reapportionment Commission that drew the lines, said an appeal would cause serious delays for Secretary of State Donetta Davidsion, who has to notify the 64 county clerks of their new district lines.

"They had their day in court, we had our day in court. They said they were willing to work with the court's ruling," said Hillman.

Davidson said she met recently with county clerks to come up with new election deadlines, and may have to ask lawmakers to consider further delays.

Under state law, the last day to change precinct boundaries is March 11, 29 days prior to the beginning of caucuses on April 9.

"We'll have to wait and see what the courts do," she said.

Rocky Mountain News
Redistricting presents challenges: Representatives find themselves facing new constituents, issues
By Burt Hubbard
February 4, 2002

When Congressman Mark Udall campaigns in his new congressional district this year, he will notice a lot more young, male faces among prospective voters.

Republicans Joel Hefley and Scott McInnis will campaign in more ethnically diverse districts with higher percentages of seniors, while Democrat Diana DeGette will find herself representing a slightly whiter, less diverse area with fewer children.

But nowhere did redistricting reshape a district more than in the southern suburban area represented by Republican Tom Tancredo.

In the space of 24 hours, Tancredo's 6th District was transformed into a throwback to the 1950s and the days of Ozzie and Harriet. It is overwhelmingly made up of married couples who own their own homes.

Three of 10 residents are children and almost nine of 10 are Anglo.

"Tancredo is in heaven," said pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli.

Last month, officials from both political parties anxiously stood outside Denver District Judge John Coughlin's third floor courtroom waiting for his decision on the location of the new 7th Congressional District.

When Coughlin selected a Democratic Party plan outlining a U-shaped district surrounding Denver, he also set in motion overnight changes for the state's six congressional representatives.

McInnis will pay more attention to agricultural issues. DeGette has already touched base with her new constituents in Cherry Hills Village. Udall will try to bridge gaps between his Front Range voters and new ski country residents.

And all the representatives will find themselves spending campaign time and money introducing themselves to their new constituents.

"This is one where you should be aggressive and show you are out there working for your new constituents," Ciruli said.

Tancredo will be the congressman meeting the most new constituents this fall.

"He will be putting on his cowboy boots and hitting the area," said Lara Kennedy, Tancredo spokeswoman.

To carve out the 7th, the judge pushed Tancredo's district south and east to encompass Douglas and Elbert counties along with southeast Arapahoe County. The district went from 67 percent homeowners to 85 percent. Married couples now comprise 67 percent of the households compared with 51 percent before redistricting.

Denis Berckefeldt, secretary of the Colorado Democratic Party and one of the parties in the congressional redistricting lawsuit, said the transformed 6th was the "luck of the draw."

After drawing a new 7th d District encompassing the older suburbs and keeping Denver intact in the 1st district, the 6th was left with the upper middle class, newer suburbs to the south, he said.

"I don't think it was done deliberately from the sense of 'gee, let's try to create a whiter, richer district,' " Berckefeldt said.

The next tier of changes took place in McInnis' and Udall's districts.

About one in every nine residents of Udall's new 2nd District is between the ages of 18 and 24 because of the addition of the young ski country residents in Eagle, Summit and Grand counties to his college-age constituents at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

That mix will bring issues such as affordable housing to the forefront, Udall said. The percentage of unrelated people sharing homes to afford housing rose from 10 percent to 12 percent.

That means walking the line between development and the environment.

"They shouldn't be mutually exclusive," Udall said.

Ciruli said the ski counties overall should be a good fit for Udall because residents there share concerns over the environment and water development with his Front Range constituents.

McInnis, in losing the ski counties and gaining rural counties in the southeast, will concentrate on agricultural issues, said spokesman Blain Rethmeier.

"The congressman has always been passionate about farming issues," Rethmeier said.

McInnis also now has the second-highest percentage of Hispanics among the seven districts.

"We're looking at certain ways to reform the INS," Rethmeier said.

Even though there are now an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in the district, political analyst Katy Atkinson said McInnis doesn't need to worry.

"He is in a unique position that he is already so well known around there that it's not going to be a huge stretch for him," Atkinson said.

The core of Degette's 1st Congressional District, the city of Denver, remained intact. However, she exchanged the Hispanic northwest Aurora area for the more Anglo southern suburbs of Cherry Hills Village and Englewood.

The switch means she will no longer have the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and its cleanup, and Fitzsimons and its development into a medical center, in her district.

"I'd hate to see the great advances we have made on both those projects get lost," said DeGette, who vows to remain involved with the projects.

When she recently met with her new Cherry Hills Village residents, they told her they "did not have any kind of big environmental problem or military base," DeGette quipped.

Neither the 4th District, being vacated by Republican Bob Schaffer, nor the 5th District, held by Hefley, changed much demographically.

And none of the incumbents should have a hard time getting re-elected, Atkinson said.

"They are going to have to spend some money and some effort to show that they really care about their new constituents," Atkinson said. "But with none of the incumbents really facing tough races, they really don't have to break much of a sweat."

 

Rocky Mountain News
Voters could have bigger impact on Legislature in primary than general
By Steve Lawrence
February 4, 2002

Thanks to term limits and redistricting, the March 5 primary could have a bigger impact than the November election in reshaping the Legislature, particularly in the Assembly, where liberal Democrats are trying to increase their clout.

Lawmakers' redrawing of legislative districts last year to reflect the 2000 census made almost every seat safely Republican or Democratic.

That's encouraged intraparty battles in the primary over the districts where no incumbents are running, usually because of term limits. Most of those fights are taking place in Assembly races between moderate and liberal Democrats.

Frustrated by the Assembly's failure to pass a couple of key pro-consumer bills last year, Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, has been lining up support for liberal candidates in about a dozen open Assembly districts that Democrats are likely to win in November.

"Now that virtually every Democratic seat in the Legislature is utterly safe, we can finally turn our attention to fighting the primary battles...," Kuehl wrote in an e-mail to about 25 other lawmakers. Liberals can get "not just any Democrats but the right Democrats in state legislative seats."

Union leaders also plan to step up their efforts to support progressive candidates in March, in part because of the few competitive races in November, said Art Pulaski, secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation.

Democrats have big majorities in both houses, but a group of middle-of-the-road, pro-business Democrats holds the balance of power on some bills, particularly in the Assembly.

A gain of several seats by liberals could shift that control.

Kuehl said she decided to try to line up support for liberal candidates after the Assembly last year blocked Senate bills to protect bank customer privacy and limit secret court settlements in product liability cases.

She's urged an informal group of Senate and Assembly Democrats to support and contribute to 13 Assembly Democratic candidates, including one with no opposition in the primary.

Not all of the members of her progressive coalition are backing all 13 candidates and not all the races are clear-cut contests pitting a pro-consumer liberal against a pro-business moderate, Kuehl said.

"In each of the cases we're looking at what we would consider the most progressive candidate," she said.

One key race for Kuehl is the 40th Assembly District race to succeed outgoing Speaker Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys.

Hertzberg, who is termed out, is supporting one of his former aides, 26-year-old Andrei Cherny, to succeed him. Kuehl is backing Lloyd Levine, an aide to Assemblyman John Longville, D-Rialto.

Hertzberg has been a leading proponent of a more pro-business attitude among Democrats, but spokesman Luke Breit says that under Hertzberg the Assembly has not been overly favorable to business.

The Assembly, Breit said, has passed several key progressive laws, but in a 120-member Legislature, "not everybody is going to be happy with every outcome."

There also are some ideological splits among Republican candidates but they're not as evident as in past years, said Allan Hoffenblum, editor and publisher of the "California Target Book," an analysis of California campaigns.

"The Republicans are too exhausted," he said. "They're looking for victories, so the interesting wars are not going on in as many places as they have in the past."

Hoffenblum estimates that only about eight to 12 of the 100 legislative races on the ballot this year will end up being competitive in November, compared to about 20 in recent elections.

The latest edition of the "California Target Book" rates only one campaign as competitive, a Fresno-area Assembly district now held by a Democrat.

The rest are described as safe Democrat, safe Republican, strong Democrat or strong Republican. But that could change as the year goes on, Hoffenblum said.

Virtually all the 70 lawmakers running this year seem to be assured of victories, thanks in part to compromise redistricting plans backed by most Republicans and Democrats.

Only seven lawmakers have primary election opposition. Eight have no opponents at all, either in March or November. Five have no major party opposition.

"When you do what they did in redistricting, which was all the politicians working together to make themselves as safe as possible, this is what you get," said Tony Quinn, one of Hoffenblum's co-editors.

"The districts may not remain this way throughout the decade but they should remain that way through the first election."

Some of the more interesting primary races:

Mervyn Dymally, a former California lieutenant governor, congressman and state legislator, is trying for a political comeback at age 75. He's one of four candidates running for the Democratic nomination in a Los Angeles-area Assembly district.

After sizing up redistricting, Assemblyman Phil Wyman, R-Tehachapi, decided to move into the district now represented by termed-out Assemblyman George Runner, R-Lancaster. He's facing Runner's wife, Sharon, and two other candidates in the primary.

Assemblymen Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, and Dick Dickerson, R-Redding, are running against each other for an open Senate seat. Republican leaders had the district redrawn to make it possible for Aanestad to run after Dickerson helped end a Republican blockade of the state budget last year.

Assembly members Charlene Zettel, a moderate from San Diego, and Dennis Hollingsworth, a conservative from Temecula, are seeking the GOP nomination in a Senate district that covers parts of Riverside and San Diego counties.

Former Democratic Assemblyman Rusty Areias, now the state director of parks and recreation, is running against attorney Armando Flores in a Senate district that stretches from the Monterey area to the San Joaquin Valley. Former Assemblyman Peter Frusetta is among the GOP candidates.

Rocky Mountain News
Republicans unlikely to appeal congressional map
By Jon Sarche
January 30, 2002

Republican leaders who were furious with a Denver District judge's congressional redistricting plan said Wednesday they likely will not appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

But House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, said his attorneys filed a motion Tuesday with Judge John Coughlin asking for clarification of a provision of the ruling.

Dean said Coughlin's map, which Democrats believe gives their candidates a chance to win in as many as four congressional districts, reduced the Hispanic population in the Denver-centered 1st District by 3.39 percent to 29.99 percent. Dean said that could violate the federal Voting Rights Act, which prohibits actions that dilute minority voting strength.

In his decision Friday, Coughlin said a change of up to 4 percent in minority voting strength was not considered significant in a previous Supreme Court decision on congressional redistricting.

But in a footnote, he wrote that if necessary, the reduction could be corrected by moving about 6,000 voters in the Cherry Hills area in Denver from the 1st District into the 6th District and replacing them with about the same number in an area within the 6th District in southwestern Denver.

Dean said he sought clarification because he determined that the area Coughlin described in southwestern Denver contained fewer than 800 people, not enough to correct the problems he perceived.

He said if Coughlin indicated in any clarifying remarks that he felt the Supreme Court should make the final decision, he would be more likely to appeal.

But Dean said an appeal could be difficult because of time constraints -- county clerks need a final map soon -- and because Republicans do not have the support of Hispanic groups.

"If we did, absolutely we would appeal, but only on that one piece," Dean said. "I'm not going to expend a lot of energy or effort on it."

Dean also said he would not appeal based on the configuration of the 7th District, which Coughlin wrapped around Denver to encompass parts of Jefferson, Adams and Arapahoe counties.

He said a successful appeal would require redrawing the entire map.

"We have concluded that these issues may not rise to a sufficient level of constitutional concern that an appeal would be sustainable," Dean said.

Any appeal would have to be filed by Friday to be considered.

Pueblo Chieftain
Supreme Court rejects Senate, OKs House reapportionment
By Tom McAvoy
January 29, 2002

The Colorado Supreme Court threw out a state Senate reapportionment plan Monday, finding that it unconstitutionally denies unified districts in Pueblo, Boulder, Douglas and Jefferson counties.

In a 4-3 decision, the court essentially upheld the House plan but remanded the Senate portion back to the Colorado Reapportionment Commission to fix those county splits and most likely also keeping the cities of Pueblo and Boulder whole in their own Senate districts.

"In addressing whole Senate districts for Boulder and Pueblo counties on remand, the commission should avoid these city divisions, if possible," Justice Gregory Hobbs wrote. He was joined by Justices Ben Coats, Rebecca Love Kourlis and Nancy Rice for the majority.

Justice William Bender, joined by Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey and Justice Alex Martinez, wrote a 35-page dissent, saying the majority was unnecessarily rigid about avoiding county and city splits.

The Reapportionment Commission will meet at noon today to set up a schedule for drawing up a new state Senate map to meet the court's Feb. 15 deadline for complying with the Colorado Constitution.

Republicans applauded the decision because it canceled a 6-5 commission vote for a map that favored Democrats in their quest to keep control of the Senate after November's election.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo, had worked on the commission to split the city of Pueblo and increase Democrats' chances for not only keeping his seat but gaining a second seat shared by rural Pueblo and neighboring rural counties on the Eastern Plains.

"With a 4-3 decision, it's obvious the court itself is divided, so it should be no surprise that the Reapportionment Commission has struggled with dividing up the legislative districts," Thiebaut said.

"The court appears to give the commission clear guidance and a great opportunity to improve the plan," the Pueblo Democrat said.

"I'm relieved the court is consistent with the plain language of the constitution," said Senate Assistant Minority Leader Mark Hillman, a Burlington Republican serving on the commission. "You can't slice and dice counties for political gain."

If the court decision is followed, Pueblo will continue to have one city-based Senate district, currently represented by the term-limited Thiebaut, and a second district combined with either the Eastern Plains or the San Luis Valley, but not both.

The commission's now-defunct plan would have combined half of the city of Pueblo and Pueblo West with the Fountain-Fort Carson area of El Paso County.

Rep. Joyce Lawrence, R-Pueblo, was looking at running in such a Senate district but was not deterred by the court's decision to keep the city of Pueblo whole.

"It's good news because we want to keep the city together," Lawrence, who is term-limited in the House, said. "The people of Pueblo have supported me four times for the House. I'm still looking seriously at this Senate race."

Pueblo Rep. Abel Tapia and City Councilman Al Gurule, both Democrats interested in the same Senate seat as the Republican Lawrence, also said keeping the city whole is better than the split.

"It concentrates my race within the city limits of Pueblo, which is favorable for me," Tapia said.

Gurule said the city split, which Thiebaut and other commission Democrats had tried to engineer, "basically disenfranchised the Hispanic community in Pueblo. I'm definitely leaning toward running now because it would be in my best interest."

The second local seat has wider geographic implications because rural Pueblo County would contribute fewer than 20,000 people to the population of about 122,000 needed to make Senate a district.

Sen. Lewis Entz, R-Hooper, currently represents rural Pueblo but preferred the commission plan to realign his San Luis Valley-based Senate District 5 with Fremont and Teller counties, rather than Pueblo.

"I hope they don't dink with mine," Entz said. "But it doesn't bother me whichever way it goes because I'm running."

The alternative would be to combine rural Pueblo with Trinidad and the Southern Plains, which could produce a Senate race between a Democrat such as Pueblo County Commissioner John Klomp and a Republican, perhaps Rep. Brad Young of Lamar.

When Klomp filed for the Senate before Christmas, he thought his district would include 50,000 people from Pueblo, as the commission proposed, not fewer than 20,000, as it may turn out now.

"My first reaction is I would be disappointed only because I thought two Pueblo Senate seats could best represent all of Southern Colorado," Klomp said.

"I'd have to see the numbers and how the commission splits them before I decide whether to proceed or not. Pueblo is my home base, although I'm also known out on the Eastern Plains, too," Klomp said.

Young, meanwhile, still has a choice to make between the House and Senate.

The Lamar Republican could establish legal residency in Kiowa County and run for his newly drawn House district, which no longer will include his home base of Prowers County, or he could run for the Senate if there's an open seat.

"I've always considered the possibility," said Young, who is chairman of the powerful Joint Budget Committee. "If I want to be in the Senate, right now is the time to do it."

Young said he would not run for the Senate if he ends up in fellow Republican Mark Hillman's district.

Rep. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, is leaning toward seeking another term in the House, although there's a possibility he'd run for a new Senate district if Young doesn't.

Jeff Wells, a former Colorado Springs legislator now serving on the Reapportionment Commission, said the only major changes in store are on the new Senate map.

The Senate was most contentious from the start, since the Democrats' 18-17 majority hangs in the balance.

"There's no question I'm pleased by the court remand," Wells said. "Both commissioner Heather Witwer (a Denver lawyer) and I argued repeatedly that we felt the constitutional principle of not splitting counties deserved more consideration than the commission gave it."

Denver Post
Colorado justices reject state Senate remap; Court tells panel to avoid splitting counties
By Julia C. Martinez
January 29, 2002

The Colorado Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote Monday, rejected a plan for redrawing state Senate districts. With three of the five Democrats on the court dissenting, the court returned the plan to the state's reapportionment commission to redo by Feb. 15.

The 82-page decision elated Republicans, who expected an unfavorable ruling given that five of the seven justices are Democrats.

"If we had had the same bipartisan cooperation in the commission as we saw in the court's ruling, we wouldn't have had to go to court in the first place," said Sen. Mark Hillman, a Republican from Burlington and member of the reapportionment commission who opposed the panel's final plan.

The court concluded that the plan submitted by the reapportionment commission split counties in violation of the state Constitution and denied Boulder, Douglas, Jefferson and Pueblo counties one Senate seat each. Given their population, the court ruled, Douglas and Pueblo counties should have one district each, Boulder should have two and Jefferson should have four.

Instead Douglas and Pueblo were divided among districts shared with other counties, Boulder got one seat and Jefferson was assigned three, the opinion said.

The plan also divided Adams, Arapahoe and Mesa counties and the cities of Boulder and Pueblo without adequate explanation, the court said. The court noted that the state Constitution forbids splitting counties between legislative districts "unless necessary to meet equal population criteria."

In the dissent, Justice Michael Bender wrote that the majority opinion went against past court decisions and set an unprecedented two-part standard that would be difficult for courts to apply.

Monday's decision impacts state political races and is different from Friday's court ruling involving the state's seven congressional districts. Neither decision affected U.S. Senate races, which are statewide and not confined to a district.

Sen. John Andrews, floor leader of the Senate Republicans, said the decision restored some of his faith in the judiciary.

"This ruling has two Republicans and two Democrats upholding the Constitution without regard to political advantage. It's a credit to all four of those justices," Andrews said.

Nevertheless, Andrews criticized Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, one of the three dissenters in Monday's ruling, for appointing several Democrats to the reapportionment commission and for holding what he said was a secret meeting with leaders of the Senate Democrats before she made her appointments.

"She should have recused herself starting on Jan. 7," Andrews said, referring to the date when the Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments on the case.

Justice Alex Martinez was the third dissenter. Justices Gregory Hobbs, Rebecca Love Kourlis, Nancy Rice and Nathan Coats were in the majority.

Democrat Bill Thiebaut, floor leader of the Senate Democrats and a member of the commission, said he was pleased that the court's ruling gave direction on how to go about drawing the lines.

"We had started with the wrong premise, regionally. There was no prior case law on that," said Thiebaut, a lawyer from Pueblo. "I'm excited to see how districts can be drawn" putting whole Senate seats within counties.

Denver Post
Candidates lining up after remap ruling: Wide field weighs run for Congress
By Julia C. Martinez and Mike Soraghan
January 27, 2002

Friday's court decision on new congressional districts has already begun the reshuffling of Colorado's political deck.

State Sen. Bob Hagedorn, up to now a candidate for governor, said Saturday he won't rule out the possibility of making a bid in the newly created 7th Congressional District instead.

"It's obviously tempting. It is tailor-made for my centrist Democratic views," Hagedorn said a day after District Judge John Coughlin chose a map dividing Colorado into seven congressional districts for the next decade. "I'm not going to completely rule it out, but all our energies are focused on the governor's race right now."

Coughlin's ruling could profoundly affect Colorado - and national - politics for 10 years if Democrats are able to gain a third seat in Congress in November and possibly a fourth before the decade is out. Democrats need just six seats to win the majority in the House, so Colorado could become an important player in the balance of power.

State Republicans, who now have four seats in Congress to the Democrats' two, have not decided whether they will appeal Coughlin's ruling. It gave the GOP three safe districts, the Democrats two and created two toss-up districts.

One of them is the new 7th District, which comprises Denver's old northeastern suburbs and is divided almost equally among Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters.

"You have a district that is competitive. That's the most Democrats could ask for here in a state that has not been kind to them in the past few years," said Amy Walter, an analyst for the Cook Political Report.

"For the national picture it puts one more seat into play for Democrats, who need every possible opportunity to expand the national playing field."

Chief Deputy Attorney General Christine Arguello, who has unsuccessfully sought a federal judgeship, said she is considering a run in the new 7th District, which consists of parts of Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties and has a 20 percent Hispanic population.

"I'm looking at it right now," said a smiling Arguello, who was lavished with hugs from supporters minutes after the decision was handed down.

Rep. Mike Garcia also was mentioned as a possible candidate, along with Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas, although Davis said he had not looked at the new map and wasn't sure what he might do.

At the top of the Democrats' list is Sen. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Golden whose cousin Jordan Perlmutter developed Northglenn and other north Denver suburbs that now are in the 7th District. Perlmutter made no secret Friday that he is interested in the job and said he might form an exploratory committee this week to study a congressional bid.

But Hagedorn said Perlmutter could have difficulty winning over Adams County's fiscally conservative Democrats since he has criticized GOP tax cuts. "Democrats in Adams County are fiscal conservatives with respect for the Second Amendment," Hagedorn said. "Ed is going to have to do some serious reflections of his voting record."

Hagedorn said health care issues could motivate him to jump from the governor's race. "I have to decide where I can best concentrate my energies to get better health care for Coloradans," he said.

Adams County Commissioner Marty Flaum is being touted as a possible Republican challenger in the new 7th District. Flaum, who has been elected three times in a majority-Democrat county, said he is interested in the seat, as is former Senate president and current Adams County Commissioner Ted Strickland.

"If it's Ed Perlmutter, I think we'll be competitive with whoever our nominee is," Republican Party chairman Bob Beauprez said. "That's about as toss-up of a seat as I think you can draw."

State Treasurer Mike Coffman and Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers, both Republicans, have said they are interested in running for Congress in a new district, and Rogers has indicated he would move to accomplish his goals. Under the map issued by Coughlin, both now live in the 6th District, represented by Republican Tom Tancredo. Rogers could not be reached for comment. Coffman, who has filed as a candidate for Congress, said he would not run against Tancredo.

"I'll probably make a decision pretty soon. It's not as though I'm in the district," Coffman said.

Rocky Mountain News
New district, new challenges: Representatives' constituencies change with plan
By M.E. Sprengelmeyer
January 26, 2002

Mark Udall will need more mountain climbing gear. Tom Tancredo will meet a new batch of suburbanites. And Scott McInnis will lose his near-monopoly on the Western Slope.

A redistricting plan announced Friday won't necessarily threaten the job security of anyone on Colorado's congressional delegation, but the new boundaries could juggle the agenda for each incumbents.

The creation of a 7th Congressional district centered in Adams County did more than anger statewide Republicans and create a fiercely competitive new battlefield. It also shifted key constituencies and pet issues from one representative to another.

In District 1, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, will lose an eastern portion of her existing district, meaning she'll no longer have the Rocky Mountain Arsenal or the decommissioned Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora in her realm.

The cleanup of the arsenal and transformation of Fitzsimons have been major issues for DeGette, and she said they'll stay that way even as she adds the concerns of suburban Englewood.

In District 2, Rep. Mark Udall, D-Boulder, faces perhaps the biggest balancing act, thanks to the addition of the mountain communities of Eagle, Summit and Grand counties.

His Boulder-centered district is considered a bastion for environmentalists, but their stands on public lands, recreation and water issues sometimes clash with property rights views in ski country.

On land and water issues, "I think it's an opportunity to maybe bridge the east and west slopes," Udall said.

Udall's new district stretches into District 3., where until now Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, oversaw most of the mountains and valleys of the western half of the state.

While keeping its rugged character, McInnis' district will shift in the south to add Las Animas County and most of Otero County -- taking from District 4. However, McInnis also loses Park, Lake and Chaffee counties west of Colorado Springs to District 5.

There, Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colorado Springs, had feared that the military facilities he oversees in El Paso County could be split up. Instead, the shift strips away booming Douglas County.

That's part of a geographic explosion for District 6, where Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Littleton, will see his small, Jefferson County district add the rapidly-growing bedroom communities of Douglas and Arapahoe Counties, plus rural but quickly-developing Elbert County.

Meanwhile, because the new District 7 covers Adams County, District 4 will be dominated even more by rural interests of the eastern half of the state. That will come into play as candidates jockey to replace Rep. Bob Schaffer, R-Fort Collins, who has announced he will honor his term limits pledge at the end of the year.

Based on party affiliation, the shifts are not expected to hurt the re-election chances of any of the incumbents. Tancredo said he was happy to get such a solidly-Republican district, but he's angered because the statewide plan will break up logical blocks of constituents with similar interests.

"This is a great example of why it's important to take politics out of the process," Tancredo said. "Whether a judge writes the line or a legislature draws the line, politics determines the outcome."

Schaffer was more blunt and said the breakup of the mountain communities will "marginalize" rural residents. "We could have thrown a nest of squirrels in a box of crayons and they could have done a better job than this," Schaffer added.

Rocky Mountain News
Fresh candidates arise in wake of redistricting
By Peter Blake
January 26, 2002

Now that the judge has drawn the boundaries for seven new congressional districts in Colorado, let's look at some admittedly long-shot candidates who could spice up the campaigns this fall considerably.

4th District: Jared Polis, the 26-year-old who spent a million bucks to land a seat on the state board of education in 2000, moved his legal residence from Boulder to Berthoud, in Larimer County, just after the recent elections. He had bought land there a year ago. Berthoud is safely in the 4th. His name popped up recently as a possible Democratic candidate for what is now an open seat since incumbent Bob Schaffer has said he won't run again.

Polis said the other day "I'm not planning on running for anything at this point" -- not, you'll note, a flat-out denial. He professes to be primarily interested in finding good candidates for the state board from the 3rd and 7th Districts.

But his state party chairman is enamored of candidates who can bring their own cash to a race and Polis still has a few million left in the bank. How much cajoling would it take to change his mind? The front-running GOP candidate is state Sen. Marilyn Musgrave of Fort Morgan.

7th District: Some paranoid Republicans think Judge John Coughlin designed the 7th especially for term-limited Senate President Pro Tem Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden. But Perlmutter is no lock for the nomination, even though he has access to lots of money. The district is 20 percent Hispanic and Christine Arguello, chief deputy attorney general, could get strong support. Arguello may live slightly outside the district but I am told by her supporters she'd cheerfully move into it to run. She herself was unavailable for comment.

On the Republican side, Adams County Commissioner Marty Flaum and former school board member and businesswoman Beth Gallegos are two potential candidates. Flaum called his candidacy "very possible" even if his Westminster home is in the 2nd District, just outside the 7th (he wasn't sure of the precise boundaries). He notes, correctly, that you technically don't have to live in the district you represent.

Another possible GOP candidate in the 7th: Rick O'Donnell, an aide to Gov. Bill Owens. O'Donnell had been thinking of running for state treasurer, and still might, but since incumbent Mike Coffman has been thrown into the 6th District instead of the 7th, O'Donnell could run for Congress instead while Coffman seeks re-election.

Coffman, who'd love to be a congressman, has said he's "undecided" whether to move to the new 7th. But the betting here is he won't. Incumbent 6th District Rep. Tom Tancredo has pledged to serve no more than three terms, so he'll presumably leave in 2004. That would give Coffman a free mid-term shot at Congress, and he could dodge the carpet-bagging charge. Of course, he first has to hold off Democrat Chris Romer's bid for treasurer this fall. Chris is the son of the former governor.

1st District: Here's the most off-the-wall candidacy of the day, but one that could be the most fun: Republican state Sen. Ken Chlouber, R-Leadville.

Ken's wife Pat, a former member of the state board of education, has been appointed regional representative for U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. So that she can get to work on time, she and Ken have purchased a condo in the Cherry Creek neighborhood, smack in the middle of Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette's district.

Ken Chlouber has said over and over he would dearly love to be a congressman, but circumstances keep conspiring against him. His county, Lake, was in Rep. Scott McInnis' 3rd District, but the judge just moved it to Rep. Joel Hefley's 5th District. Chlouber has no congressional hopes in either one.

Would he be crazy enough to move his legal residence from Leadville to Denver just so he could run against DeGette?

Probably not, but he could wage an interesting campaign. He may be "wrong" on guns for Denver, but he's pro-choice and, as a former miner, is "right" on labor issues. And labor doesn't like DeGette much . . .

Rocky Mounatin News
GOP choking on judge's doughnut
By Mike Littwin
January 26, 2002

Judge John Coughlin made his announcement on redistricting in the morning, presumably in order to minimize rioting in the streets.

We live, as you know, in a gas mask kind of town. And over at the Statehouse, while there was no rampaging, there was definitely some gasping for air. To say that the House Republicans were apoplectic -- actually, you try saying it -- is to say that House Speaker Doug Dean should stay away from tool kits.

For Dean and friends, this was the worst-case scenario.

The 7th Congressional district -- the new district that Colorado gained because of all the Californians who moved here, apparently unaware of the T-REX construction -- is a toss-up, meaning anyone can win. It's also the plan the Democrats proposed.

The district's makeup is almost exactly one-third Republican, one-third Democrat, one-third independent. That sounds fair until you realize Al Gore carried the new district by 2,000 votes in the last election, which suggests that a Democrat with a pulse might have a real chance.

Why is this so bad? It isn't as if Republicans have something against democracy -- just against Democrats.

Here's the short list of grievances:

The Democrats like it.

Not only do the Democrats, who had rejected all of Dean's proposals without even bothering to look at them, like it, they have smirked as the Republicans fumed. Nobody likes a smirker.

A judge decided the issue.

OK, a judge who's a registered Democrat decided the issue.

The drawing is slightly tortured. Somebody said the new district looked like a half-eaten doughnut with Denver the hole in the middle. You know which side has the sugar on its lips.

And something fishy, therefore, must have been going on. Otherwise how could any reasonable judge have rejected the Republican plans?

In fact, House Republicans rushed forward to assert that the Democrats must have known what the ruling would be, suggesting some collusion between the Democrats and the judge.

Dean, sensing that calling the judge a crook might not be politic, softened slightly, saying "I don't think anybody thinks that Judge Coughlin conversed with the Democrats." Then he added: "But Judge Coughlin isn't the only one to have known what he would decide."

So there was collusion between the Democrats and the judge's clerks? The judge's typist? Pizza delivery man? And if it was the pizza guy, did he get the news to the Democrats in 30 minutes or less?

Maybe Dean didn't soften the charge that much. On the other hand, as angry as he was, Dean's head didn't explode, which is what many observers were predicting.

Clearly, the Republicans, who have dominated the legislature for 40 years, picked the wrong time to lose control of the Senate. The Democrats' one-vote margin made it possible to block any House redistricting proposals and put the decision in the hands of a judge.

The Democrats, who weren't very happy with the collusion talk, figured the worst a judge could do was come up with the same plan the Republicans were offering.

Rep. Dan Grossman said if the Republicans want to make a charge "they should come forward with proof or shut up."

To be fair, though, not even the Democrats expected the judge to go for this plan. Around the Capitol, they're calling it the Elect Ed Perlmutter to Congress decision.

Perlmutter, the Senate Democrat from Jefferson County who is ready to make a run, was squeezed into the district. On the other hand, state Treasurer Mike Coffman, a Republican considering a run, found his house a few blocks below the district line.

Coincidence? Hmm.

Fair? Unfair? Whatever happens, the Republicans have a lock on four of the seven seats and a clear shot at one more.

The problem with redistricting -- which is more of an art than science, and as art it's not exactly Whistler's Mother -- is that somebody always thinks it's unfair. It has been ever thus.

After all, the term gerrymandering goes back to a Massachusetts governor named Elbridge Gerry, who in 1812 drew a district that resembled a salamander. Gerry. . .mander. Now we have Coughlin. . .half-eaten doughnut?

In defending the new district, the Democrats say it collects the old, inner-ring suburbs of Denver, where, I guess, the Californians didn't settle.

Republicans, meanwhile, make the inarguable point -- one they'll be arguing before a judge somewhere -- that this was the only possible drawing of the Denver suburbs that could produce a district remotely winnable by the Democrats.

There is much in the balance, of course, including control of the Congress, where the House Republicans have only a slight edge. In other words, keep your riot gear handy.

Rocky Mountain News
Judge picks lines for 7th District: Congressional redistricting map angers state GOP
By John Sanko and Michele Ames
January 26, 2002

A Denver judge picked a redistricting map for Colorado Friday that shocked Republicans, who say it gives Democrats a victory in the courtroom that they couldn't win at the Statehouse.

District Judge John Coughlin chose a map that Democrats had proposed and that gives them a chance at winning three of the seven congressional seats.

Democrats, who had said they wanted a plan that created competitive districts, were overjoyed. Republicans, who hold a 170,000 voter-registration edge over Democrats and a current 4-2 advantage in the congressional delegation, were angry.

House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, said he was "simply stunned" by Coughlin's decision and joined other Republicans in questioning whether Senate Democrats may have had inside knowledge of how the judge would rule.

They argued that is the only explanation for why Democrats didn't offer plans of their own on the Senate floor and refused to vote on the proposals sent to them by the Republican-controlled House.

"I don't think anybody thinks that Judge Coughlin conversed with the Democrats," Dean said. "But Judge Coughlin isn't the only one who might have known what he would decide."

Democrats demanded proof of the allegations.

"There is a disturbing trend within the Republican Party every time they fail," said Rep. Dan Grossman, D-Denver. "For them to cry sour grapes and then allege collusion is ridiculous. These are serious charges they're making, and they should come forward with proof or shut up."

Coughlin said there is no basis to the Republicans' claims.

"I never told anybody how I would rule," said Coughlin, who, according to state records, has been a registered Democrat since 1967. "Well, I told my wife and she wasn't interested."

Key features in the plan include a new 7th District in a half-doughnut-shaped suburban area on the north side of Denver. It includes northeast Jefferson County, most of Adams County and a portion of Arapahoe County. Arvada, Edgewater, Wheat Ridge, Commerce City and a large part of Aurora are in the new district.

Republicans had wanted a new district out of the heavily Republican counties on the south side, including Arapahoe and Douglas.

The judge's pick keeps Denver in a single congressional district, doesn't divide El Paso County, keeps the Western Slope whole and does not create a new southeast Colorado district that would have included Pueblo.

The judge had warned he would pick a map at 10 a.m. Friday if state lawmakers didn't reach a decision before then. A line began forming outside the judge's chambers more than an hour early when it became obvious Coughlin would make a ruling.

In his 16-page opinion, Coughlin reminded everyone he was taking the action reluctantly and only because the legislature and the governor could not reach a compromise either at a special session last fall or during this year's session.

Coughlin said he relied heavily on guidelines set down in 1982 when a three-judge federal panel drew boundary lines after the Republican-dominated legislature and Democratic Gov. Dick Lamm would not reach agreement.

Key constitutional requirements were population equity -- roughly 614,000 residents in each district, the judge noted. Coughlin said he also had to avoid diluting minority voting strength.

Non-Constitutional criteria that he applied included compactness and preserving the contiguity of county and municipal boundaries.

Coughlin said in his decision that he felt it would have been a mistake to split Denver. Gov. Bill Owens and Mayor Wellington Webb had testified at trial against such a split.

"The city and county of Denver is unique from its suburbs in the Denver metropolitan area," the judge wrote.

"Taking together all the factors, it is imperative that the city and county of Denver have one representative that will speak for the interests of the city and county of Denver in a clear, undivided voice."

Denver Hispanic leader Paul Sandoval had been pushing for a plan that would split Denver, creating a stronger Hispanic district out of one portion, but called the judge's ruling a good one.

"To me it's a 4-3 map, as simple as that," Sandoval said. "More importantly now, we have a chance for three Democrats to win."

Although he explained on a district-by-district basis why he felt the map was the best for Colorado, Coughlin admitted it wasn't perfect.

"Because of the somewhat rigid requirement of equal population, no redistricting plan can be perfect," Coughlin wrote. "The court acknowledges flaws in the redistricting plan adopted by this court."

There was talk that the ruling might be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court or even to the federal courts where a similar lawsuit had been filed by Republicans but held in abeyance. However, no decisions were announced.

Appeals over congressional redistricting can skip the state court of appeals and go directly to the state's highest court under the legal rules.

Redistricting appeals also can go to federal court, where a three-judge panel is in place to hear them. Several redistricting protests were filed in federal court weeks ago but have been held in abeyance to let the legislature and state judges act on the issue.

That hands-off federal attitude likely will continue while the state Supreme Court reviews the question. Federal courts generally try to stay out of state matters until state-level work has finished.

Any appeals from the three-judge federal panel would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Denver Post
Dems laud remap plan: GOP may appeal congressional lines adopted by judge
By Staff Reports
January 26, 2002

A congressional reapportionment plan adopted by a Denver District Court judge Friday pleased Democrats but had Republicans fuming.

Democrats said it would give their candidates a good chance to win in as many as four of the seven districts. A new 7th District is being created this year because of the state's population growth.

But the decision by Judge John Coughlin was roundly criticized by Republicans, some of whom accused the judge, and his staff, of siding with Democrats and leaking the decision to them ahead of time.

"I don't know if they knew something we didn't know throughout this whole process and that's why they weren't willing to compromise. We had counted on an impartial judiciary," said House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs.

Democrats denied having any inside information and said they were appalled by the accusations. They said they thought the judge would pick a different map.

"That's outrageous. They need to come forward with evidence of a conspiracy or shut up," said Rep. Dan Grossman of Denver, leader of the House Democrats.

"I never told anybody how I would rule," said Coughlin, who according to state records has been a registered Democrat since 1967. "Well, I told my wife and she wasn't interested."

Republican Party lawyers were looking at whether to appeal the ruling, but the state party chairman Bob Beauprez said he would prefer to move on.

Tom Downey, the attorney representing House Democrats, said the map selected by Coughlin sets up three seats in which Republicans are likely to win, lets Democrats keep two safe seats and leaves the two remaining seats up for grabs.

The new 7th District is about one-third Republican, one-third Democrat and one-third independent, and includes parts of Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties.

"We are very pleased the judge decided to have a representation that protects independents," Downey said.

Dean said Republicans have a week to decide whether to appeal before the map becomes final and county clerks are notified of their new districts.

Rep. Lola Spradley, R-Beulah, said rural Coloradans will be hit especially hard by the decision because Eastern Plains communities were lumped with urban areas in Adams and Arapahoe counties in the 6th and 7th Districts, and Lake and Chaffee counties were pulled from the Western Slope to a district in the Eastern Plains.

"This is exactly what rural Coloradans fear when they come to Denver," Spradley said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo, said he was disappointed that the new district was not centered in Pueblo. He has said he would consider running for Congress if the new district was in southern Colorado, but said Friday he will not run.

Senate President Pro Tem Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, who lives in the new 7th District, said he will talk with his family and business partners Friday and may set up an exploratory committee this week to study a congressional bid.

"We did a lot better than what was being offered to us by the House of Representatives," he said. "We had to stand our ground."

State Treasurer Mike Coffman, a Republican, said he was re-evaluating whether to run for Congress this year. A spokesman for Republican Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers said Rogers was out of state and had not seen the map and could not comment. Both have expressed an interest in running for Congress, but live outside the new 7th District. Sen. John Evans, R-Parker, also said he has no seat for which to run.

Perlmutter said the safe Republican districts are likely the 4th, comprising the Eastern Plains and north-central Colorado; the 5th, centered in El Paso and Pueblo counties; and the 6th, encompassing Arapahoe, Elbert, Douglas and southern Jefferson counties. The safe Democratic districts are the 1st in Denver and the 2nd, centered in Boulder, while the 3rd District, covering much of the Western Slope and San Luis Valley, and the 7th District could be competitive, he said.

Former Sen. Mike Feeley, a Democrat whose strategies helped his party gain control of the state Senate in the 2000 election for the first time in 40 years, said the map is a fair representation of the state's political composition.

"If we have a 4-3 (Republicans to Democrats) delegation after the next election, I think that's probably fair and accurate," he said.

Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, said he was pleased the judge followed his suggestions to keep Denver whole and not to split the Western Slope and San Luis Valley.

Coughlin, who ruled in a lawsuit filed by Democrats, had set Friday as the deadline for the legislature to reach a compromise on setting new congressional district boundaries. Lawmakers failed to agree on maps during a special session last October. In the current session, the House approved two redistricting plans created by Republicans, but the Senate did not debate either of them.

Some plans proposed dividing up major cities or counties, and lumping pieces of metro areas with more rural parts of the state.

In addition to the requirement that each district contain about 614,465 people, the only other constitutional stipulation was that the final plan do no harm to minorities, so lawmakers had to consider the state's large Hispanic population in drawing their plans.

Four of the state's existing congressional seats are held by Republicans and two by Democrats.

Rocky Mountain News
Judge rules in Dean's favor
By John Sanko
January 25, 2002

Denver District Judge John Coughlin this morning decided in favor of Republican Doug Dean's plan to redraw congressional districts in Colorado.

A reluctant Coughlin ruled in favor a plan that makes pars of Adams, Arapahoe and Elbert counties Colorado's seventh district. The sixth district now includes portions of Clear Creek, Douglas and Gilpin counties.

The fifth district extends further west into Park, Lake and Chafee counties. El Paso County remains part of the fifth district.

Time ran out on lawmakers to pick a new map, a political fight which set the stage for Coughlin's ruling.

Although Coughlin has said, "I have absolutely no desire to take the place of the legislature," he set today as the deadline for action because the November elections are looming.

Last-ditch negotiations at the state house Thursday failed to break the gridlock between the Republican-controlled House and the Senate, where Democrats have the edge.

The House approved one more plan Thursday -- a proposal by Rep. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs.

But Senate Democrats said it still would have given Republicans an edge in winning five of the seven congressional seats. Republicans have a 4-2 advantage among Colorado's current delegation.

House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, and Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, met throughout the day to see if there might be movement, but said the efforts were unsuccessful.

It won't be the first time that the courts have done the legislature's work. In 1981 a three-judge federal panel drew Colorado's congressional redistricting map after then-Gov. Dick Lamm and the GOP-controlled legislature couldn't reach agreement.

Democrats filed a suit in Denver District Court last spring when it appeared Gov. Bill Owens might not call a special session to consider redistricting. When the special session failed to produce a plan, Coughlin went into action.

"Am I disappointed," Matsunaka said, referring to the failure to compromise.

Dean insisted that House Republicans did their best, but said Senate Democrats wouldn't budge.

"When the special session was going on, Ed Perlmutter (Senate president pro tem from Jefferson County) came into my office and he said we need to give him a 4-3 map and then he'd compromise with us," Dean said.

"I said we've got four Republican congressmen, you've got two, there are 170,000 more Republicans than Democrats in the state. Why would we give you the new congressional seat outright?"

Republicans are hoping Coughlin will create the seventh district in the high-growth and heavily Republican Douglas, Arapahoe, Adams County area. Democrats want a new southeast Colorado district with Pueblo as its main hub.

Matsunaka conceded that the Democrats' insistence on creating as many competitive districts as possible created much of the hangup. Although Republicans hold a 170,000-voter registration edge over Democrats, Matsunaka said unaffiliated voters needed to be factored into the equation.

"I really think that the independent voters needed an opportunity to be included in this plan," Matsunaka said. "All of the plans that we saw from the other side of the aisle were truly 6-1 and 5-2 plans.

"You might as well let the judge tell you it's 5-2. I can live with the judge telling me it's 5-2 rather than me giving it away."

Rocky Mountain News
Reaction: What others said
By Associated Press
January 25, 2002

Here is a sampling of reactions today to a Denver District judge's adoption of a congressional redistricting plan.

"I don't know if they knew something we didn't know throughout this whole process and that's why they weren't willing to compromise. We had counted on an impartial judiciary." -- House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, questioning whether Senate Democrats had inside information on how the judge would rule.

"I never told anybody how I would rule. Well, I told my wife and she wasn't interested." -- Denver District Judge John Coughlin.

"This map does not give us all that we wanted, but it is fair because it's based on real political competition, and not Republican entitlement. Everyone has a shot at representing the residents of the new district in Washington, D.C." -- Tim Knaus, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party.

"Why compromise to something that's not good for you and your Democratic Party? Why compromise just to say you compromised?" -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo.

"If we have a 4-3 (Republicans to Democrats) delegation after the next election, I think that's probably fair and accurate." -- Former Senate Minority Leader Mike Feeley, D-Lakewood.

"This is exactly what rural Coloradans fear when they come to Denver." -- House Majority Leader Lola Spradley, R-Beulah.

"Judge Coughlin's decision will ensure that Colorado Springs and the surrounding communities will continue to be represented by one voice in the U.S. Congress. ... I am thrilled to once again be representing the people of Chaffee, Park and Lake counties." -- U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo.

"It is a setback for Douglas and Elbert counties. These counties are the fastest-growing counties in the nation and deserve their own congressional district." -- Sen. John Evans, R-Parker.

"The map gives independent voters the chance to have a real say in swinging particular seats." -- Senate President Pro Tem Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden.

"We did a lot better than what was being offered to us by the House of Representatives, that's for sure. ... We had to stand our ground." -- Perlmutter.

"This was a goal that we set out to obtain almost three years ago." -- Feeley, on Democrats' strategizing to take over the Senate for the first time in 40 years in 2000.

Rocky Mountain News
Judge rules in Democrats' favor
By Associated Press
January 25, 2002

A Denver District Court judge today adopted a Democratic compromise to a Republican redistricting plan that Democrats said would give their congressional candidates a competitive chance in this year's election.

Tom Downey, the attorney representing the House minority Democrats, said the map selected by Judge John Coughlin gives Republicans three safe seats, lets Democrats keep two safe seats and leaves the two remaining seats up for grabs.

"We are very pleased the judge decided to have a representation that protects independents," Downey said.

According to the judge, the new 7th Congressional District awarded by Colorado's growth during the past decade will consist of parts of Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties.

Downey said the new seventh district is about one-third Republican, one-third Democrat and one-third independent.

Republicans had no immediate comment and left the courthouse quickly after getting their copies of the judge's decision.

Coughlin, who ruled in a lawsuit filed by Democrats, had set today as the deadline for the Legislature to reach a compromise on setting new congressional district boundaries. Lawmakers failed to agree on maps during a special session last October. This session, the House approved two redistricting proposals created by Republicans, but the Senate did not debate either of them.

Those bills will either be killed or be allowed to die without action in the Senate, said House Minority Leader Dan Grossman, D-Denver.

Grossman also said a lawsuit filed by Republicans in federal court will likely be dismissed because the judges in that case were waiting to see what Coughlin would do.

Four of the state's existing congressional seats are held by Republicans and two by Democrats.

The remapping debates are politically contentious because each party works to gain an advantage by drawing district boundaries that would favor its candidates.

Republicans wanted the new seventh district centered in Denver's southern suburbs. They believe they should have five districts with residents likely to vote for a GOP candidate.

Democrats wanted the district centered in Pueblo to represent rapid growth among Hispanics. They want at least two districts where voters are likely to vote for a Democratic candidate and a third that is competitive.

 

Rocky Mountain News
Map issue lands in judge's lap: Legislature misses redistricting deadline, so court gets the job
By John Sanko
January 25, 2002

Time ran out on lawmakers to pick a new congressional redistricting map for Colorado, setting the stage for a reluctant judge to make the call today.

Denver District Judge John Coughlin will release an opinion at 10 a.m. expected to include the map he thinks does the best job of adding the seventh congressional district Colorado gained thanks to its booming population.

Although Coughlin has said, "I have absolutely no desire to take the place of the legislature," he set today as the deadline for action because the November elections are looming.

Last-ditch negotiations at the state house Thursday failed to break the gridlock between the Republican-controlled House and the Senate, where Democrats have the edge.

The House approved one more plan Thursday -- a proposal by Rep. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs.

But Senate Democrats said it still would have given Republicans an edge in winning five of the seven congressional seats. Republicans have a 4-2 advantage among Colorado's current delegation.

House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, and Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, met throughout the day to see if there might be movement, but said the efforts were unsuccessful.

It won't be the first time that the courts have done the legislature's work. In 1981 a three-judge federal panel drew Colorado's congressional redistricting map after then-Gov. Dick Lamm and the GOP-controlled legislature couldn't reach agreement.

Democrats filed a suit in Denver District Court last spring when it appeared Gov. Bill Owens might not call a special session to consider redistricting. When the special session failed to produce a plan, Coughlin went into action.

"Am I disappointed," Matsunaka said, referring to the failure to compromise.

Dean insisted that House Republicans did their best, but said Senate Democrats wouldn't budge.

"When the special session was going on, Ed Perlmutter (Senate president pro tem from Jefferson County) came into my office and he said we need to give him a 4-3 map and then he'd compromise with us," Dean said.

"I said we've got four Republican congressmen, you've got two, there are 170,000 more Republicans than Democrats in the state. Why would we give you the new congressional seat outright?"

Republicans are hoping Coughlin will create the seventh district in the high-growth and heavily Republican Douglas, Arapahoe, Adams County area. Democrats want a new southeast Colorado district with Pueblo as its main hub.

Matsunaka conceded that the Democrats' insistence on creating as many competitive districts as possible created much of the hangup. Although Republicans hold a 170,000-voter registration edge over Democrats, Matsunaka said unaffiliated voters needed to be factored into the equation.

"I really think that the independent voters needed an opportunity to be included in this plan," Matsunaka said. "All of the plans that we saw from the other side of the aisle were truly 6-1 and 5-2 plans.

"You might as well let the judge tell you it's 5-2. I can live with the judge telling me it's 5-2 rather than me giving it away."

Denver Post
Redistricting judge 'decisive': Coughlin's ruling due Friday
By Julia C. Martinez
January 24, 2002

As a critical deadline approaches, state lawmakers are scratching their heads and wondering: Who is the black-robed jurist who could hold the key to one of the most hotly contested political issues of the decade?

Judge John W. Coughlin is set to issue a ruling - and possibly a map - Friday on how Colorado's congressional lines will be drawn for the next 10 years, if the legislature and governor haven't reached a compromise by then.

A native Denverite, the 55-year-old Coughlin is highly respected by fellow judges, lawyers and prosecutors alike.

"He is very bright, knows the law and the rules, and he's extremely thorough," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Phil Parrott, who said Coughlin has a reputation for being fair and impartial. "Yet, he's very decisive; he doesn't hedge," Parrott said.

A judge for 22 years, Coughlin served first as a county judge, then as a district court judge, appointed by former Gov. Dick Lamm.

He is described by his boss, Chief Judge Stephen Phillips as "even-tempered and contemplative," a judge who doesn't use a gavel in the courtroom. Instead, he raises his hand, and says, "Stop," when people get out of hand.

In front of him on the bench is a sign that reads "PATIENCE."

"Sometimes I have to buzz my staff and say, "could you go polish this,' " Coughlin said in an interview this week, noting that he has referred to the sign "'quite often" over the years, but during the arguments on redistricting, he said he didn't need it.

"The lawyers did a really nice job," he said. "I was very impressed with them, the talent and the way they cooperated with one another. It made me very proud of our profession."

Coughlin declined to discuss the redistricting case, except to say that he will release his decision at 10 a.m. Friday. If a compromise is reached and legislators want him to hold off, Coughlin said he will.

Redrawing congressional boundaries occurs after every 10-year census to reflect population changes. The 2000 census showed Colorado's population gains earned it a seventh seat in Congress.

But redrawing the lines is a politically charged issue because it could determine whether a Democrat or Republican is elected in a given district. Currently, Republicans have four seats in Congress and want a fifth. Democrats have two and want three.

A ruling from Coughlin on Friday would mark the second time in Colorado history that the court has determined what the districts will look like. The first time was in 1982, when a panel of federal judges made the decision.

Phillips said he thinks he knows what's going through Coughlin's mind as the deadline approaches.

"He wishes the legislators would go away and do their job, take their responsibility and do the redistricting plan," Phillips said. "I'm sure Coughlin would rather not make this decision, but he will if he has to."

By the luck of the draw, Coughlin was assigned to hear the case after a special session of the legislature on remapping ended in a stalemate.

Coughlin set a Jan. 25 deadline to allow for a compromise and to give lawyers a chance to appeal his ruling to the Supreme Court, if necessary, and still meet deadlines for selecting candidates.

As of late Wednesday, Republicans and Democrats had failed to reach a compromise.

Sen. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican and a lawyer, said he and other lawmakers look forward to the judge's decision, even though they don't have a clue about him.

"I've heard secondhand he's considered to be a judicious judge," Lamborn said. "But I'll have a better idea of his fairness when we see the plan he hands down."

Rocky Mountain News
Stalemate over new districts continues
By Michele Ames
January 22, 2002

Frustration mounted Monday as state lawmakers failed to move any closer to deciding how the boundary lines for Colorado's seven congressional districts should be drawn.

With Denver District Court Judge John Coughlin saying he will take over the process Friday if lawmakers can't agree, House Speaker Doug Dean implored Senate Democrats to act on his plan.

"The time for playing games is up," said the Colorado Springs Republican, whose redistricting plan was approved in the House last week.

Senate Democrats have said they won't consider any plan that both sides can sign off on.

"As we said at the beginning of the session, there's no reason to go through the motions," said Senate President Pro Tem Ed Perlmutter, D-Jefferson County. "Presenting something to the House that they're not going to approve is just wasting their time and wasting our time."

And time is something neither side has.

Under the legislative rules, it will take the Senate Democrats two days to act on the bill House lawmakers have sent them.

Perlmutter said Senate Democrats have held several meetings with Dean to discuss a compromise, without an agreement.

Dean said he rejected demands that Republicans agree to a new district around Pueblo because he said there is no way to get enough people in the district to comply with federal laws that require balanced districts.

He said Democrats indicated they were willing to ask the judge to extend the deadline if a settlement was near.

"I don't know if the judge will give an extension when the Senate is not acting at all," Dean said.

Dean wants to give the Western Slope and Eastern Plains their own representatives, keeping Denver whole and putting Pueblo and the San Luis Valley with the Western Slope.

House Democrats oppose the map because they said it leaves Democrats with control of the same two districts they already control in Denver and Boulder without providing at least a third competitive seat, such as the one Pueblo would provide.

Rocky Mountain News
Speaker accuses Senate of delay on redistricting
By Wire Reports
January 21, 2002

Republican House Speaker Doug Dean accused Senate Democrats of using delay tactics in an attempt to get a better deal as a Friday deadline approaches on congressional redistricting.

A Denver District Court judge has said if there is no deal by the end of the week, he will issue his own map to draw the boundaries for the state's seven congressional districts, including a new district awarded by the census because of the state's growth.

Senate President Pro Tem Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, said Senate Democrats will meet Tuesday to decide what to do about House Bill 1001, the only plan to come over from the House since the session began Jan. 9.

The Senate so far has not even set a hearing date for the bill.

Perlmutter said Monday that Senate Democrats have held several meetings with Dean to discuss a compromise and no agreement has been reached.

"We're still talking," Perlmutter said.

Dean, R-Colorado Springs, said he rejected demands that Republicans agree to a new district around Pueblo because he said there is no way to get enough people in the district to comply with federal laws that require balanced districts.

He said Democrats indicated they were willing to ask the judge to extend the deadline if a settlement was near.

"I don't know if the judge will give an extension when the Senate is not acting at all," Dean said.

Dean wants to give the Western Slope and Eastern Plains their own representatives, keeping Denver whole and putting Pueblo and the San Luis Valley with the Western Slope.

House Democrats oppose the map because they said it leaves Democrats with control of the same two districts they already control in Denver and Boulder without providing at least a third competitive seat, like the one Pueblo would provide.

Denver Post
Senate faces deadline on redistricting plan: Court to take over after Friday
By Arthur Kane
January 20, 2002

The state Senate has four days this week to pass a redistricting plan.

If it fails, the 2002 General Assembly will become only the second legislative body in the state's history to have the courts perform its constitutional duty.

"There's always a chance," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, a Pueblo Democrat, who added that nothing was scheduled for debate as of Friday. "There's time to sort through them next week."

Judge John Coughlin set Friday as the deadline for the General Assembly to draw up a new congressional map that takes into account the 2000 census.

The House passed a bill supported by a majority of Republicans last week, but two other redistricting bills are up for second reading this week in the House.

House Majority Leader Lola Spradley, R-Beulah, said the House is going to wait for the Senate to act.

"Until the Senate shows a willingness to act, I'm hard-pressed to send over any other bills," Spradley said. "We'd like to see them take their legislative responsibility seriously."

In the midst of the redistricting debate, committees in both chambers passed legislation last week ranging from less-expensive licenses for retired nurses to a hate-crimes bill.

The bill toughening hate-crime legislation, by Sen. Penfield Tate, D-Denver, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Legislators also learned that the state's economy is faltering more severely than they thought.

The legislative council is predicting that there will be $108 million less in state revenue this year on top of previous predictions that found more than a $400 million shortfall.

That lost revenue will force budget cuts this year and a slimmed-down budget next year.

With that in mind, most of the bills introduced this session propose no additional state spending.

On Tuesday, the Senate Business, Labor and Finance Committee will discuss Sen. Pat Pascoe's bill strengthening restrictions on child safety products.

The measure, which has no cost to the state, prevents child-care facilities from using recalled products, makes manufacturers label reconditioned toys and prevents the sale of items if the manufacturer is negotiating a recall.

"These products stay around for a long time because they're handed down," said Pascoe, a Denver Democrat. "The safety problems have not been well publicized."

Paige Lightbody's daughter was nearly injured by a defective baby carrier and car seat, Lightbody told the committee. She said she was walking from the car into her home when the carrier, which unknown to her had been recalled, flipped over.

"She was strapped in or it could have been real serious," the Aurora woman said. "I was walking over concrete."

Senators also will discuss in committee bills dealing with banning employment discrimination against homosexual or transgender people and more stringent standards for registering sex offenders.

In the House, Rep. Don Lee, R-Littleton, has a bill that would revoke financial aid and in-state tuition for a year for anyone convicted of rioting. The measure is scheduled to be before the House Education Committee on Wednesday.

Thiebaut said that other than redistricting, most of this week will be filled with committee meetings on a number of issues.

"They're all important issues," he said, "but there will be no overriding major issues like transportation or health care."

Rocky Mountain News
House approves redistricting plan: Measure expected to have a short life upon arrival in Democratic Senate
By Michele Ames
January 16, 2002

House Republicans approved a plan Tuesday to draw seven new congressional districts for Colorado, but even the measure's sponsor predicted it will die in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, got his plan through on a 33-30 vote. The plan moves to the Senate, while House members continue to work on three proposals that could be debated as early as today.

"I could spend all day and all night drawing maps, but if the Democrats are not willing to meet us halfway, we're not going to get anywhere," Dean said.

Lawmakers are working under a tight deadline set by Denver District Judge John Coughlin. If the legislature hasn't approved a redistricting plan by Jan. 25, Coughlin said he would select one for them.

The plan approved by the House is the same one Dean submitted in the court hearings held by Coughlin. That leads Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, to claim it is Dean who is unwilling to compromise.

"It's the same plan they introduced in court. I told the speaker I would work with him. I'll do that," Matsunaka said. "But the bill that he is sending over with no modifications, I don't think will go very far."

Shortly before the legislative session began, Senate Democrats signaled that they wouldn't even hear redistricting plans unless there was a compromise everyone could agree to. Matsunaka now says he'll schedule the House bill for a committee hearing before Jan. 25, but he didn't hold out any hope for its passage.

"I told the Speaker I was not going to go to conference committee to be set up again on a real contentious issue," Matsunaka said. "Obviously, he doesn't believe me."

Dean said he lost hope for his bill when Matsunaka declined to carry it in the Senate, eliminating any hope that the proposal could be considered bipartisan.

Instead, Sen. Mark Hillman, R-Burlington, will carry the bill for Dean in the Senate. With no redistricting bills drafted in the Senate, Hillman said he suspects his chamber won't produce a plan before the court deadline.

 



top 
      of page

______________________________________________________________________
Copyright 2000 The Center for Voting and Democracy
6930 Carroll Ave. Suite 610   Takoma Park, MD  20912
(301) 270-4616 ____ [email protected]