Connecticut's Redistricting News
(December 29, 2000-July 23, 2001)


 Roll Call: "Connecticut Members Protect Turf: Hoping to Avoid Showdown, Maloney Touts Johnson�s Influence." July 23, 2001
 The Hartford Courant: "Splitting The 2nd District Makes No Sense." July 18, 2001
 Associated Press: "Public Hearings On Redistricting Wrap-Up." July 17, 2001  
 The Providence Journal: "The case for Rob Simmons's seat." July 14, 2001
 The Hartford Courant: "Redistricting Vote Reversed." July 09, 2001

 New Haven Register
: "First reapportionment hearing draws vocal group supporting 5th district." June 29, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." April 30, 2001
 Associated Press: "With redistricting comes battles." April 23, 2001
 New Haven Register: "Minorities could turn to courts in redistricting." April 4, 2001
 New Haven Register: "Six lawmakers, five districts: Who�s gonna lose a seat?." February 25, 2001
 New Haven Register: "Power lost in census." December 29, 2000

Roll Call
Connecticut Members Protect Turf: Hoping to Avoid Showdown, Maloney Touts Johnson�s Influence
By Rachel Van Dongen
July 23, 2001

Public hearings on Connecticut�s redistricting dilemma ended last week, but state lawmakers appeared no closer to resolving the issue of hot winnow the state�s House districts from six to five, a move certain to set up a battles between two incumbents House Members.

Several scenarios were still being discussed by various state politicos last week, the most talked about of which would combine the southwestern Connecticut 5th district, currently represented by Rep. Jim Maloney (D), with the northwestern 6th district, held by Rep. Nancy Johnson (R).

Insiders still gave that plan a slight edge, but said it was by no means a done deal.

�At this point, it still appears that Maloney and Johnson will end up squaring off against each other, although that is far from a certainty,� said one state Democrat observing the work of the state House and Senate reapportionment committee, which must settle on a proposal by Sept. 15.

However, at a recent public hearing in Waterbury, the idea of reconfiguring the southwestern 4th district to include Danbury, Maloney�s hometown, was advanced by Republican and Democratic members of the redistricting committee. If that were to happen, Maloney could end up running against Rep. Christopher Shays (R), who currently represents the 4th.

But Maloney, whose 5th district is politically competitive and the only one to share a border with all others in the state, said a more serious scenario making the rounds was the idea of dividing freshman Rep. Rob Simmons� (R) eastern Connecticut 2nd district. Such a plan would likely push a portion of his district into Rep. John Larson�s (D) north-central 1st district, and then create a shoreline district reaching from Newhaven to the Rhode Island border.

Under that proposal Simmons, who earned a top spot on Democrats� target lists after ousting veteran Democratic Rep. Sam Gejdenson last year, would then square off against six-term Rep. Rosa Delauro (D), who represents the New Haven-based 3rd district.

�I haven�t made a specific recommendation to the commission,� Maloney said in an interview last week, but added that it �makes sense� for state lawmakers to focus on the 2nd because the eastern portion of the state had endured the greatest population loss.

�The western part of the state is the part of the state that grew. If the rest of the state had grown as fast as my Congressional district, Connecticut would not have lost a district,� Maloney asserted.

He conceded there was a �possible scenario� that would pit him against Johnson, who targeted Maloney in a fundraising solicitation earlier this year.

However, the Democrat added that redistricting agents�faced with the reality that they are already losing one seat�might be interested in preserving maximum clout in the Congressional delegation and even touted the influence of the woman who may be his opponent next year.

�The redistricting commission should look at what�s in the best interests of the state of Connecticut, and certainly Mrs. Johnson is a member of the Ways and Means Committee,� Maloney observed.

�I certainly think that a redistricting plan which protects the interests of the state of Connecticut in terms of its representation in Congress is a legitimate and worthy way to go about it.�

One Connecticut Democrat said the idea of dividing the 2nd only cropped up after the last election, when Gejdenson lost.

�Sam was the dean of the delegation so it was naturally assumed that his district would remain untouched,� this Democrat said. �When Sam was not there anymore all of a sudden that rationale disappeared.�

For her part, Johnson, who has had relatively easy re-election battles since he nearly lost her seat to Charlotte Koskoff (D) in 1996, has publicly stated that she does not believe the 2nd district, the oldest in the state, should be divided.

�It doesn�t make sense to dismantle the 2nd,� said Johnson chief of staff David Karvelas, who insisted Johnson would definitely run for re-election, regardless of how her district is configured.

Karvelas added that the Congresswoman was preparing for battles with Maloney and under no circumstances would she abandon her home in New Britain, which Maloney contended could be moved into Larson�s 1st district.

�It�s impossible to know� what the redistricting process will yield, Karvelas said. �We have to prepare for the toughest race, and that would certainly be the biggest challenge� he said of a possible Johnson-Maloney match up.

There was a large turnout at a recent public hearing on redistricting in the 2nd. According to the New London Day newspaper, only one person at the hearing spoke up in favor of dividing the 2nd -- Lori Pellptier, the secretary-treasurer of the state AFL-CIO.

Maloney, a former state Senator, has traditionally had strong support from the AFL-CIO in his past elections.

In an interview last week, Simmons argued that the 2nd should be preserved because of its historical nature.

�Eastern Connecticut has been in the same essential shape since 1843,� he stated. �If you believe in communities of interest, all of that argues for saving the 2nd.�

Simmons acknowledged the fact the he could be a target of the redistricting pen because he is a freshman and had defeated Gejdenson, a powerful Democrat with close ties to state labor groups.

He also argued that, since he would not be in office forever and Democrats would likely have a good shot at regaining the district when he leaves, the opposition party should be happy the 2nd remains intact.

�Why screw up the people of eastern Connecticut over me?� he queried. �I�m not worth it.�

But if the 2nd were merged with DeLauro�s 3rd district in a battle that observers said would be an uphill one for the Republican, Simmons said he was game.

�I�ll do it, of course,� he said. Mentioning that once he had taught at Yale University, he added, �New Haven is not an unknown quantity for me.�

DeLauro spokeswoman Ashley WestBrook said it was �premature� to comment on possible matchups in the 2002 elections, but said the Congresswoman was sympathetic to the argument that the 2nd district should remain largely untouched,

�We agree with Simmons that it�s probably not a good idea for the towns of the 2nd district to be split up,� she said. But Westbrook added, �We�re still keeping and open mind.�

Observers stressed that it is still too early to anticipate how the redistricting map will settle The Legislature�s redistricting committee, made up of four Democratic and four Republican lawmakers, must first redraw state legislative lines and then come up with a Congressional map by Sept. 15.

If the lawmakers don�t come to a consensus, they will appoint a ninth member to the committee, with a new deadline of Nov. 30. If a plan still cannot be forged, the map would go to the state Supreme Court, which would have until Fe. 15, 2002, to finalize a plan.

The Hartford Courant
Splitting The 2nd District Makes No Sense
By Rob Simmons
July 18, 2001

Redistricting is the most important political issue facing the residents of eastern Connecticut this year. As a resident and voter in eastern Connecticut, I am concerned about the future of our 2nd District.

A number of scenarios have been discussed in the media regarding the restructuring of the 2nd District, which has been in its basic current configuration since 1843. The district includes mostly small, rural, agricultural communities covering most of the eastern half of Connecticut.

Some suggest the district should be divided in half, with the northern portion being attached to the 1st District, including Hartford, and the southern part linking to the 3rd District, which includes New Haven. This would be a mistake. The distinctiveness of our region and our voice would be lost to the political clout of the large cities.

The preservation of the Second District is motivated by pragmatism, not politics. Whatever the result of redistricting, the district's new design will be around much longer than any of the state's current congressional delegation.

The 2nd District congressional seat belongs to the people, and redistricting should be carried out with their needs in mind. The voters of eastern Connecticut must be able to elect a congressional representative who understands our issues and who will advocate for our needs, whoever that representative may be and whatever party he or she may be affiliated with.

The courts have ruled that the guidelines for redistricting must include a respect for communities of interest and the drawing of contiguous and reasonably compact districts. These guiding principles demand keeping the 2nd District unbroken.

Our district has been in essentially the same shape - from Massachusetts to Long Island Sound and along the Rhode Island border - for more than 150 years.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture map shows eastern Connecticut comprises the Thames River Basin Area. Eastern Connecticut's watershed drains from the north to Long Island Sound. The Quinebaugh-Shetucket Heritage Corridor, known as "the Last Green Valley," calls eastern Connecticut home. Our region comprises a unique ecological zone.

Traveling north to south, Interstate-395 is the backbone of the district. As the population and businesses grow along this route, it will generate more regional issues and require more interaction within eastern Connecticut.

Due to the sprawling nature of the district, social service workers and public safety organizations have formed networks to meet the needs of those they serve. Social service workers throughout the district have spent years developing systems for care and human services delivery. This is necessary because eastern Connecticut communities are far from the urban centers. The network engages in outreach to families in need of a variety of services, including health insurance and pre- and post-natal care.

Norwich Police Chief Louis Fusaro recently noted there is a mutual aid agreement in place among the police departments throughout eastern Connecticut. Various departments from Putnam to Groton stand ready to share resources such as manpower, training or special equipment and such efforts have been successful.

If the 2nd District is divided, congressional candidates would surely come from the urban areas. There would be little need to pay attention to eastern Connecticut issues.

The populations of the towns throughout eastern Connecticut range from about 6,000 to 40,000. Hartford's population is 121,000, and New Haven's population is 123,000. Clearly, eastern Connecticut's communities of interest would be lost as candidates concentrated on winning votes in those urban areas that hold the densest population.

If the shoreline member controlled New Haven and surrounding towns, and if the northern member controlled Hartford and its suburbs, reelection would be nearly guaranteed. This would not be good for eastern Connecticut issues. No eastern Connecticut candidate would ever win.

Recognizing the importance of maintaining our district's integrity, the 2nd District's chambers of commerce are calling upon the area's state legislators to support the preservation of Connecticut's 2nd District, expanding the boundaries only as needed to accommodate the redistricting plan.

The chambers said the challenges facing small towns and cities in addressing issues like job creation, education, health care, transportation and social service delivery are often very different from the state's urban centers. I agree with their assessment.

Recently, the Northeastern Council of Governments voted unanimously to "strongly, and without condition," support the continuation of the makeup of the current 2nd District. These community leaders deserve praise for their vision.

A simple plan presents itself with respect to reshaping the 2nd District. Due to changes in the population the district must pick up about 113,000 people. History shows the way. A variety of towns along the western boundary of the 2nd District were part of this district prior to 1964, when Connecticut went from five to six congressional seats.

By bringing towns such as Bolton, Hebron, Somers, East Hampton, Killingworth and Clinton into the 2nd District, we will be able to meet the required population. Those small towns fit well into eastern Connecticut's communities of interest. In addition to the historical connection, this strategy keeps the district a relatively compact and contiguous region. This is the common-sense approach to redistricting.

Rob Simmons, a Republican from Stonington, has represented the 2nd Congressional District in Congress since January.

Associated Press
Public Hearings On Redistricting Wrap-Up
July 17, 2001 

Members of the Legislature's Reapportionment Committee wrapped up public hearings on redistricting Tuesday, listening as speaker after speaker urged them to make changes in someone else's congressional district.

The Committee, comprised of four Republican and four Democratic lawmakers, will spend the next several weeks deciding how to eliminate one of the state's six U.S. House districts. The state is losing a seat in Congress and must redraw district lines because its population did not grow as fast as other states.

The Legislature must approve a new district plan for Congress and the state House and Senate by Sept. 15. If lawmakers cannot agree, a ninth person would be added to the reapportionment committee, with a new deadline of Nov. 30. If a plan is not approved by then, the state Supreme Court would step in.

Speaking at Tuesday afternoon's hearing, Jeff Nicholas, the First Selectman in Bethlehem, recommended the committee keep the 5th and 6th districts intact. He said the political clout of Democratic U.S Reps. Jim Maloney in the 5th District and Nancy Johnson in the 6th District was too important for the state to lose.

"Seniority has its strengths," said Nicholas, who wants to split freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons' 2nd District.

Residents of the 2nd District balked at that idea Tuesday, saying eastern Connecticut's communities of rural towns are too unique and intertwined to merge with another district.

Committee co-chairman Louis DeLuca, R-Woodbury, said the committee had not begun forming a redistricting plan. But he said he was impressed by last week's hearing in Norwich, which was attended by more than 200 people who opposed splitting the 2nd District.

DeLuca, the state Senate's minority leader, said the committee will try to keep politics from becoming a major factor in the redistricting process.

"We're in a political business, therefore politics is going to enter into it, but it shouldn't be the first item on our plate," the Senate minority leader said. "The first thing should be to make sure people are properly represented, but politics is going to enter it somewhere along the line."

The hearings did not focus exclusively on the state's congressional districts. Minority groups spoke out against breaking up legislative districts in their communities, and criticized the Legislature for not including any minorities on having any ethnic minority members.

"We start off with exclusion, not inclusion in terms of people of color," said former Hartford Mayor Thurman Milnor of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

He offered to the NAACP's assistance in redrawing district maps and committee members said they would consider it.

The Providence Journal
The case for Rob Simmons's seat
By Chris Powell
July 14, 2001

Connecticut's newest U.S. representative, the 2nd District's Rob Simmons, is working hard -- and maybe working hardest at protecting his district, 54 towns in eastern Connecticut, from dismemberment in the state's coming reapportionment, which will force six representatives into five districts as the state loses a seat in the House.

In this, at least, Simmons probably has right and history on his side, if not all the political influence necessary, since he is the junior member of the state's congressional delegation. For if what is called community of interest, rather than the political convenience of more influential incumbents, is to prevail with Connecticut's redistricting commission, then an eastern Connecticut district -- running from the Massachusetts border to Long Island Sound -- can claim precedence as a congressional district going all the way back to the country's founding.

By contrast, the 5th Congressional District, snake-shaped, drawn from Danbury on the west to Meriden on the east, was created only in the 1960s and cobbled together from parts of what were then and are now the congressional districts of northwest Connecticut, the New Haven area, and Fairfield County.

Of all Connecticut's congressional districts, the 5th District's towns probably have the least in common with each other. Of its cities, Danbury is, like the rest of Fairfield County, oriented toward New York; Meriden, in the Route 91 corridor, is more part of the Hartford and New Haven area; and Waterbury, the district's largest city, has little to do with either end of the district. None of those cities would miss each other if put in different districts.

As the most recent creation, and a creation more of political convenience than of community of interest, and as the only district contiguous to all the other congressional districts, the 5th is by far the most expendable, apart from the interests of its incumbent, Rep. James H. Maloney, a Danbury resident some political people may want to push into a candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor so that two U.S. representatives don't have to run against each other next year.

Even if his district is one of those preserved and expanded 20 percent, Simmons, a Republican who defeated 10-term incumbent Democrat Sam Gejdenson by fewer than 3,000 votes last November, would be politically vulnerable. He would be a first-termer gaining towns he had not yet served and would be seeking re-election in a nonpresidential year, which usually favors the party not in control of the presidency -- which next year will be the Democrats.

So Simmons is declining White House invitations and such in Washington to do more scurrying across his district -- thrusting himself, as a mediator, into the feud between the Mashantucket Pequot casino and nearby towns, and sometimes taking notable and quotable positions on issues.

Simmons supports the acquisition of Newport News Shipbuilding by General Dynamics, owner of Newport News's nominal competitor in the nuclear-submarine business, Electric Boat, in Groton, confident that the Navy and Congress will arrange sub contracts to keep EB strong. He may be wrong in dismissing peremptorily the possibility of government ownership of military contractors in monopoly situations, such as sub building is about to become.

His observation that a government yard built the Thresher, which sank with the loss of all hands during a test voyage in the Atlantic in 1963, is not persuasive, since the list of military procurement scandals involving private contractors is far longer and involves similarly disastrous events, such as the space shuttle Challenger disaster. But at least Simmons seems intent on protecting the military contracting investment in southeastern Connecticut.

Simmons is not without ambivalence. Though last year he happily collected the votes of those in southeastern Connecticut who were sick of casino Indians, he is not leading any charge to separate federal recognition of Indian tribes from the casino privileges that go with it and have become the very purpose of most applications for recognition. And in dealing with another incipient tribe with casino ambitions in southeastern Connecticut, the Eastern Pequots, Simmons seems to be retreating a little from past statements that he doesn't want more casinos in his district. Now he says he just wants the tribal recognition process to be fairer and less subject to political influence and conflict of interest.

But, being rare birds, freshmen congressmen may be more easily forgiven their imperfections and ambiguities. As the only member of Connecticut's delegation with a campaign debt -- about $150,000 -- Simmons would be in danger of becoming extinct even without the redistricting problem. So it would be a little surprising if the state Republican Party, flush with Governor Rowland's success, didn't take note of Simmons' situation and intervene accordingly.

Chris Powell, an occasional contributor, is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.

The Hartford Courant
Redistricting Vote Reversed
July 09, 2001

A week after endorsing a plan to cut the 2nd Congressional District in half, town officials from northeastern Connecticut have changed their minds and voted to keep the district intact.

Because of population shifts, the state will lose one of its six congressional seats and a panel of state lawmakers must draw up a plan by this fall.

Members of the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, with one abstention, voted Friday to "strongly and without condition" support the fundamental make-up of the current 2nd District while a committee of state lawmakers decides how to redraw Connecticut's congressional boundaries.

The same council on June 28 endorsed a plan that would put Windham County towns into the 1st Congressional District with Hartford.

Although some of the town officials still question whether their mostly small, rural municipalities receive enough attention as members of the 2nd District, they admitted that the June 28 vote was a mistake and may have unfairly embarrassed newly elected U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District.

According to a one-page resolution, the council said the group should have continued discussing the redistricting issue rather than take a position.

"In taking this action, the Council wants to make clear that the action of the NECCOG regarding redistricting made on June 28, 2001, was in no way motivated by party, politics or the support or lack of support for individuals seeking congressional representation," according to Friday's resolution. "The several media assertions that this action was political or a statement of dissatisfaction with Congressman Simmons is insulting and absolutely wrong."

Simmons, who spoke to the council Friday, appeared pleased with the change of heart. He was among those caught by surprise by last month's vote, especially since chambers of commerce throughout eastern Connecticut have begun a campaign to lobby for the current 2nd District configuration.

The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments has not taken an official position on redistricting. The only public meeting in the 2nd District on reapportionment is scheduled for July 12 at 7 p.m. in Norwich City Hall.

State lawmakers are in the early stages of reconfiguring the congressional and state legislative seats.Following the series of public meetings, the bipartisan redistricting committee - made up mostly of legislative leaders - is supposed to come up with a draft redistricting plan for the entire General Assembly to approve this fall.

New Haven Register
First reapportionment hearing draws vocal group supporting 5th District

Walter Kita
June 29, 2001

Speakers representing several Naugatuck Valley organizations told members of the state Reapportionment Committee that the 5th congressional District should not be divided.  The state, which currently has six congressional districts, must reduce that number to five to correspond with population changes based on recent census figures.

The 5th District includes Waterbury, Danbury Derby, Shelton, Seymour, Ansonia and Beacon Falls.
James H. Maloney, D-5, represents the district in Congress  Many have speculated that redistricting will result in a merger of the 5th and 6th congressional districts.

Republican Nancy Johnson represents the 6th District. A special election would have to be held to determine which of the two would represent the newly consolidated district.  "It is important that during redistricting our communities stay together," said Susan Cable, first selectman of Beacon Falls, noting the long history of cooperation among Naugatuck Valley communities.  The Valley Transit District, the Naugatuck Valley Health District and a number economic development and planning projects are proof of a close relationship among Valley towns, Cable said.

The hearing, held in New Haven's Hall of Records, was sparsely attended, drawing perhaps two dozen.
Many of those who spoke were concerned about the lack of minority representation on the redistricting committee.
Caroline Gable of the organization Democracy Works noted that blacks and Hispanics comprise 23 percent of the state's overall population, according to census figures released in March.  "We're disappointed that the commission has no minority representation," Gable said.

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
April 30, 2001

Johnson vs. Maloney?

Remapping in Connecticut hasn't gone very far yet, but that hasn't stopped Rep. Nancy Johnson (R) from preparing for a race against Rep. James Maloney (D) - and using that potential showdown to help her raise money.

Just one of dozens of House Members who could face a battle with a fellow incumbent in newly drawn districts, Johnson held a PAC fundraiser March 20 at the Capitol Hill Club during which she highlighted speculation that she could be forced to run against Maloney. Connecticut lost one of its six House seats in reapportionment.

"Fact: Maloney is gearing up to relocate and run against Nancy Johnson in HER district," read an invitation to Johnson's PAC supporters. "Fact: A campaign contribution for Jim Maloney is a contribution AGAINST Nancy Johnson."

Likewise, a March campaign newsletter for Johnson noted that "Pundits in Connecticut predict that Maloney will relocate and run against Johnson in her district once his is abolished."

"A lot of our supporters, especially in Washington, don't know this is taking place," Dave Karvelas, Johnson's chief of staff, said last week. "You have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, and certainly running against another incumbent is the toughest kind of race you could have."

Maloney said Johnson's "strong-arm tactics" suggest that she is "unduly alarmed, unduly early."

"I'm disappointed in Nancy. There's sort of a whiff of panic there," he said. "Nancy talks about bipartisanship in Connecticut, and yet she is engaging in bullying tactics with the PAC community in Washington."

Unlike Johnson, Maloney has faced strong opposition in both of his re-election contests, forcing him to raise and spend large sums of money and assemble serious campaign organizations. Maloney raised $2 million for his 2000 bid, but he had just $8,000 on hand as of Dec. 31. Johnson raised $1.6 million, but she had $452,000 in the bank at the end of 2000.

Johnson campaign aides have also sought to stir speculation that Maloney is casting about for an entirely new job. Aides last week faxed out newspaper reports that Maloney would eye a gubernatorial bid if he loses his House seat. But Maloney said Friday that he's leaning strongly against a run for governor.

An eight-member panel composed of two members of each party from the state House and Senate will draw the maps. State law sets a Sept. 15 deadline for the General Assembly to approve the redistricting plans. Gov. John Rowland's (R) approval is not required, but the plan must be approved by a two-thirds majority of both chambers of the Legislature.

Speculation about a Johnson-Maloney contest stems from the possibility that redistricting officials will eliminate his Danbury-based seat, forcing him to run against one of his colleagues.

A Johnson-Maloney matchup is not a sure thing, though. Some redistricting insiders said Maloney could easily end up running to challenge Rep. Christopher Shays (R), whose Stamford-based district lies southwest of Maloney's territory.

Shays has said he does not relish a race against his colleague. "I don't like to think about having to run against him. He's a competent and capable Member," Shays told the New Haven Register.

Associated Press
With redistricting comes battles

Diane Scarponi

April 23, 2001

The work has barely begun, but already some politicians are starting to squabble over who should get certain pieces. The state is losing a seat to growing states in the South and West.  The job isn't going to be easy. It could wind up before the state Supreme Court if the legislature or a nine-member commission cannot agree.  What's at stake is the representation of each community in Congress, the state House of Representatives and the state Senate.

"There is a huge move to the suburbs, and there will be shifting of seats all over the place.  Almost no one will wind up with exactly the same district as they have now," said Rep. Melody Currey, D-East Hartford, who is on the eight-member board that will redraw the boundaries.  Growing areas of the state, including the Stamford-Danbury area and the Connecticut River Valley, can expect to pick up seats in the legislature, while losses are expected to hit several cities, including Hartford and New London.

The shifts in population, combined with the loss of a congressional seat, could mean radical changes for how the states congressional representation is organized.  Things are fairly balanced right now, with the state represented in Congress by three Democrats and three Republicans.

The state has two solidly Democratic districts: The 1st, in the Hartford area, and the 3rd, in the New Haven area. There are also two Republican districts: The 4th, in lower Fairfield County, and the 6th, in the Litchfield County area.  The 5th District, which includes Danbury, Meriden and Waterbury, most of the Naugatuck Valley and some suburbs, has flip-flopped between the parties for the past 10 years. The 2nd District, which covers most of eastern Connecticut, had been in Democratic hands for more than two decades until last year's upset victory by Rob Simmons.

The Legislature must approve a new district plan by a two-thirds vote by Sept. 15. If they cannot agree on a plan, a nine-member commission, made up of the eight-member committee and one additional person, has until Nov. 30 to agree.  If that fails, the state Supreme Court will decide. A new district system must be in place by Feb. 15.

Several leading Republicans believe the simplest and fairest thing to do is to eliminate the 5th District and dole out its towns to surrounding districts.  After all, they say, the district borders all five others already, and this plan would cause the least disruption.  "You can't make a strong argument for anything other than the 5th being absorbed by other districts," said Gary Berner, the House Republicans' redistricting guru.

Not so fast, say Democrats, including the 5th District's congressman, U.S. Rep. Jim Maloney of Danbury.  "The thing that counts most of all in redistricting is population � where are the people?" Maloney said. "The western part of the state generally grew very, very well and the eastern part of state didn't grow very well."

But U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, D-4, said it's likely that either he or fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-6, will be running against Maloney next year.  "I don't like to think about having to run against him," Shays said. "He's a a competent and capable member."  Maloney favors dividing the vast 2nd District in two, with the eastern shoreline around New Haven added to the 3rd District and the rest added to the 1st District, which already includes Hartford's eastern suburbs.

Many leaders in eastern Connecticut say this plan would be a disaster for the region.  "(The 2nd District) is a big district, but I think it does represent our needs," said Griswold First Selectman Paul Brycki, a Democrat. "The issues with Hartford and the southeast part of the state are very different."  But Maloney said the state also must think about which members of Congress it needs to protect its resources, including key committee positions held by senior members.

Simmons is a freshman. But he is also part of the Republicans' fragile hold on control of the House.  Currey said the new districts are far from being decided.  "I don't think anyone can come to the table yet and say this is the easiest way to decide it, because we haven't seen all the options," she said. "Everything's on the table, and nothing has been decided at all."  The redistricting committee is made up of four senators and four representatives and is divided evenly between the parties. It plans to meet in the next few weeks to set public hearing schedules.

New Haven Register
Minorities could turn to courts in redistricting

Gregory B. Hladky

April 4, 2001

Spokesmen for the minority coalition said part of their concern stems from the fact only white legislators are serving on the eight-member General Assembly panel assigned to reapportion the state�s political boundaries to conform with population shifts revealed by the 2000 census.

The latest census shows that Connecticut�s largest cities lost population and that many urban minorities have migrated to the suburbs, a trend that some fear could lead to a reduction in the number of state legislative seats that elect minorities.  "Redistricting we feel is just far too important to leave to legislative leaders alone � there is too much at stake," said Lisa M. Scails, president of the Connecticut NAACP. "The African-American vote could be diluted to the point of being not a vote at all."

Fernando Betancourt, executive director of the Latino/Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, said Connecticut�s Latino community has joined African-Americans to ensure a redistricting process "that will not deny our rights."  "We�re going to ask (the legislative) leadership, since we�re not participating in that (redistricting) committee, that they meet with all of us," Betancourt said as he stood with other civil rights and community leaders on Tuesday.   "We�re going to do this together." Betancourt said the coalition is already working with lawyers to monitor the proceedings and prepare for possible legal challenges.

State House Minority Leader Robert M. Ward, a North Branford representative who is on the redistricting panel, said he is planning to meet with all the minority groups seeking access to the panel, "so that their concerns are appropriately addressed when it comes time to officially draw the lines."  The state Senate�s top Democratic leader, Kevin B.

Sullivan of West Hartford, also insisted that the new redistricting plan would be the result of "a very open process."  According to new census figures, New Haven�s population dropped by about 7,000 people in the past decade and Hartford�s plunged by more than 18,000. Minority leaders are concerned that such population shifts to the suburbs could reduce or dilute their political power in the legislature.

Americo Santiago, a spokesman for Democracy Works and a former state lawmaker, said he doesn�t believe that redistricting should necessarily result in a lessening of minority legislative influence.  He argued that the shift of minority voters to the suburbs could result in more districts that elect African-Americans and Latinos to the legislature.  The General Assembly�s reapportionment committee has eight members: the four top Democratic and Republican leaders in the state House and Senate, and four other legislators, a Democrat from each chamber and a Republican from each chamber selected by their leaders.

Senate Democratic members include Sullivan and Sen. Joseph Crisco of Woodbridge.  Senate Republicans on the panel are Senate Minority Leader Louis C. DeLuca of Woodbury and Sen. David J. Cappiello of Danbury.  House Democrats include Speaker Moira K. Lyons of Stamford and Rep. Melody A. Currey of East Hartford. House Republicans include Ward and Rep. Arthur J. O�Neill of Southbury.  Sullivan said he asked for volunteers from his caucus and Crisco responded.  Ward said the top leaders are automatically on the committee. He said he couldn�t appoint a minority as the other House Republican because there are no minority GOP House lawmakers. Nor are there any minorities among Senate Republicans.

New Haven Register
Six lawmakers, five districts: Who�s gonna lose a seat?

Lolita C. Baldor

February 25, 2001

Fueled by the economic downturn in the early 1990s, Connecticut residents fled to other states in search of secure jobs. And its recovery at the end of the decade didn�t keep the population high enough to merit all six of its U.S. House members. So now, for the first time in 70 years, one has to go.

The question is: Which one?

State political leaders are toying with their own dueling doomsday scenarios. And their target naturally changes depending on their party loyalty.  Already legislative staff members are tinkering with the new, nearly $1 million in computer wizardry scattered around the state Capitol. With a few clicks of the mouse, they can shift House and Senate lines and scrutinize the political landscape block by block.

For the most part, political leaders have set their goals. And, as Rep. John B. Larson, D-1, noted, "There�s going to be a wide opportunity for mischief." The GOP Plan For Republicans, the preferred plan centers on the 5th District. Represented by Democrat James Maloney, the district that includes Waterbury and Danbury has seesawed between Republican and Democratic control for decades.

Maloney ousted Republican Gary Franks in 1996 and has won re-election by growing margins in the last two contests.  GOP stalwarts suggest the 5th District be carved up and doled out to its adjoining districts, with Maloney�s hometown of Danbury sliding into the heavily Republican 4th District now represented by Rep. Christopher Shays.

"I think Danbury would logically go in the 4th District," said state Rep. Bob Ward, 86-North Branford.  Using history as their defense, Republicans argue that Danbury was in the 4th for years, when there were five districts and one at-large Congress member.

In 1930, the state earned a sixth member of Congress, after 30 years with just five members. Instead of carving out a sixth district, however, officials simply elected one representative statewide. That changed after 1970, when legal requirements forced them to draw six separate districts.

They took a few towns from the 4th and the 5th, including Danbury and Waterbury, and created a new 5th District. The remaining northwestern chunk of the state became the new 6th District.  Since then, there have been only small changes, so revamping the map this year will be extremely difficult.

"People�s careers are on the line in a very personal sense," said Maloney. "And what�s right for Connecticut is on the line."  Still, he called plans to chop up his district and move him into Shay�s territory "a fantasy," adding, "They�re not going to get any Democrat to agree with that."

The Democratic Plan

Democrats have their own plan, and they�ve targeted the newest member, U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2.

That proposal, the most dramatic of any being floated by politicians thus far, would slice the current 2nd District in half. As a result, the 3rd District, now represented by Democrat Rep. Rosa DeLauro of New Haven, would stretch along the state�s eastern coastline to Stonington.

And it would extend Larson�s 1st District east along the top half of the state. Both Larson and DeLauro would shed a few of their western towns and the existing 4th, 5th and 6th districts would shift a bit.  The Shoreline communities, Democrats argue, share many of the same issues, including concerns about Long Island Sound and the environment, and should be one district.

But Republicans deride the plan as absurd gerrymandering.  "That would be catastrophic," said Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-6. "We�re not going to take the Hartford district out to the east or to the west. We ought to be urging that real thought be given to the interests of the district."  Simmons, who would then have to run against DeLauro, called it "an ugly proposal that doesn�t merit a lot of consideration, because it turns its back on the traditional political geography of Connecticut."

A Likely Compromise

Even some Democrats quietly dismiss the suggested split of the 2nd District.

"It�s a little bit of a stretch," admitted Larson. "It would completely change the character of the 1st and 3rd districts."  Yet he and others agreed that moving Danbury into the 4th District, which would set up a run-off between Maloney and Shays in a heavily Republican, Fairfield County-based district, simply won�t pass Democratic muster.  A likely compromise would combine Maloney and Johnson�s districts into a new 5th, forcing them into a runoff in 2002.

The other four House members would gain between 120,000 and 140,000 people, depending on the latest population estimates.  Shays would pick up a few Fairfield County towns, DeLauro would gain more of the Naugatuck Valley, and Simmons and Larson would extend their districts west.

The changes would strengthen Shays� Republican district and both Larson�s and DeLauro�s Democratic bases and probably boost the GOP profile of Simmons� district. And political experts say the resulting 5th District would be a tossup.
Democrats contend that a district anchored on the heavily Democratic cities of Waterbury, Danbury and New Britain would give Maloney an advantage. Even though she lives in New Britain, Johnson did not carry that city in her last race, but she still won handily.

Republicans, meanwhile, say Johnson is popular there, has racked up 10 consecutive wins and would run a tough race.

Who Decides?

Most officials agree the congressional districts will be an enormous challenge to the eight-member committee formed to tackle the redistricting. Four Democrats and four Republicans have been appointed to the panel.

"We have six incumbents and all six intend to run again," said Ward, a committee member and the House minority leader. He also said the panel�s first concern will be drawing the state House and Senate districts. Once that is done, the committee will focus on the congressional districts.

In 1981 and 1991, the redistricting wasn�t nearly as daunting. There were no major changes in the congressional lines, but the eight-member panel battled over the new state House and Senate lines. Both times the committee had to select an impartial ninth member to broker the final deal.

Most expect that will happen this year, too. And if the nine-member commission can�t agree, the decision goes to the state Supreme Court - a result none of the politicians want to see.

In this fiscal year, the state spent $1.4 million on computer hardware, software, equipment and salary for four staff members to start the redistricting. Officials bought 11 computer set-ups, which include the dual-monitor system. Another $600,000 is being budgeted for the coming fiscal year that begins July 1.

New Haven Register
Power lost in census

Christopher Hoffman

December 29, 2000

The federal Census Bureau released figures Thursday showing that the state�s population grew in the last decade, but not enough to hold onto all of its congressional seats.  Connecticut�s population rose by 3.6 percent, from 3,287,116 in the 1990 census to 3,409,535 in this year�s count. But the nation�s population jumped 13.2 percent, with Western and Southern states seeing bigger increases than Northern and Eastern states like Connecticut.

"It�s disappointing," said Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, the state�s top election official. "Compared with the country�s growth rate, we didn�t do as well and that�s why we lost a seat."  State politicians weren�t surprised by the news. The state barely held onto its six seats in the 1990 census, and officials expected to lose a seat this year.

They were unhappy nonetheless. One less seat is likely to translate into less influence and fewer federal dollars, they said. It also will cost the state one of its eight electoral votes. States receive an electoral vote for each congressman and senator.  "In Connecticut, losing a seat is a matter of losing almost 20 percent (of the state�s representation)," said U.S. Rep. James Maloney, D-5, whose district Republicans are likely to target for elimination. "What it means is the remainder of the delegation is going to have to be very aggressive and make sure it�s well placed on committees."

Deciding which district to eliminate is likely to set off a fierce partisan battle next year. The fact that the state�s congressional delegation is split 3-3 between Democrats and Republicans will make the process even tougher.  "It�s not going to be easy," state GOP Chairman Chris DePino said Thursday. "It�s going to be a long and arduous process."  "This could be something that�s quite contentious," Bysiewicz, a Democrat, agreed.

Both sides were already sharpening their axes Thursday. Republicans were spinning scenarios in which Maloney�s 5th District, which includes the Naugatuck Valley, Waterbury and Danbury, would be folded into the Republican 6th District, composed of New Britain, the eastern Hartford suburbs and Litchfield County.

Democrats, meanwhile, talked of eliminating newly elected Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Simmons� 2nd District seat, which encompasses the eastern half of the state. Under that plan, the district would be split between the Democratic 3rd District, which is based in New Haven, and Democratic 1st District, centered around Hartford.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson�s staff, meanwhile, shot down another scenario making the rounds in the state Capitol. They moved Thursday to quash rumors that Johnson, the state�s senior congresswoman, would retire at the end of her upcoming term, thereby making her district a prime candidate for elimination.

"At this point, it�s safe to say she�s probably going to run again in 2002," said Jennifer Schaming, Johnson�s press secretary.  A bipartisan Redistricting Committee, composed of four Democratic and four Republican state lawmakers, must decide next year which district to eliminate. The group, which will be appointed in February, also will reapportion all 36 state Senate and 151 state House seats based on census data to be released in March.

The committee has until Sept. 15 to present a reapportionment plan to the General Assembly, which must approve it by a two-thirds majority in each chamber.   If the committee fails to agree on a plan, Gov. John G. Rowland will appoint a Redistricting Commission of eight members designated by legislative leaders of both parties. The group will then select a ninth member and may set a plan without approval of the General Assembly.

If that group can�t agree by Nov. 30, the matter goes to the state Supreme Court, which can write its own plan or compel the commission to adopt a plan.

Politicians from both parties said Thursday they believed the commission would take some of the sting out of the process. The system forces legislators to be fair and to compromise, they noted.

"What drives the process is that both parties have a seat at the table," said state Senate Majority Leader George C. Jepsen, D-Stamford. "The result is that neither party is in a position to do significant damage to the other."

The U.S. Constitution requires the U.S. House of Representatives to be reapportioned every ten years so the body reflects population changes. The number of congressmen is fixed at 435, meaning states that lose population must give up seats to states that gain people.

Connecticut joins Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Mississippi and Oklahoma in losing a seat as of the 2002 election. They did better than New York and Pennsylvania, which will surrender two seats each.  Texas, Arizona, Florida and Georgia, meanwhile, will pick up two seats each, while California, Nevada, Colorado and North Carolina will add one.

Connecticut, one of the original 13 states, started out with 7 congressmen. That number fell to six after the 1820 census and to four in the 1840 count. The state rebounded to five based on the 1900 census and jumped to its present six after the 1930 count.  From 1932 to 1964, Connecticut had five congressional districts and an at-large congressman who represented the entire state. Federal courts ruled the arrangement unconstitutional, leading the state to create the sixth district in 1964.

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