Let's stipulate right up front that redistricting is, by definition, an extraordinarily political process. No one is going to produce a map that disadvantages their own political party.
But within that framework, there are certainly shades of political hackery - from fair and even-handed maps that make partisan advantage a minor influence, to clear hack jobs that serve nothing more than the hopes and dreams of political operatives. (And trust me, as a political operative, we often dream of partisan hack job maps - more on that another day.)
As I've been studying the legislative redistricting proposals from the Rs and the Ds, one of the things I've examined is how the two maps treat incumbent legislators. Now, it's true that ORS 188.010 says this:
No district shall be drawn for the purpose of favoring any political party, incumbent legislator or other person.
But it's also true that one of the perennial complaints comes from legislators who get drawn into a district with another legislator (especially if their old district is left without an incumbent.) For example, ten years ago, Senator Jason Atkinson complained loudly about a district line that left him just outside his district:
"To draw me out of my district -- it's so ridiculously partisan, even the Democrats can't keep a straight face," said Atkinson, who would have to move out of his recently remodeled house to run for re-election in his new district. "It's just mean."
He ended up moving in order to seek re-election.
So, on this score, how do these two map proposals stack up?
The Republican legislative plan puts eight incumbents into districts with each other:
- Chris Edwards (D) and Lee Beyer (D) in SD 6.
- Jackie Dingfelder (D) and
Diane RosenbaumRod Monroe (D) in SD 21.
- Val Hoyle (D) and Paul Holvey (D) in HD 8
- Debbie Boone (D) and Brad Witt (D) in HD 32.
The Democratic legislative plan also puts eight incumbents into districts with each other:
- Chuck Thomsen (R) and Alan Olsen (R) in SD 26.
- Jim Weidner (R) and Jim Thompson (R) in HD 23.
- Bill Kennemer (R) and Dave Hunt (D) in HD 40.
- Jules Bailey (D) and Ben Cannon (D) in HD 46.
Check that out. The Republican plan districts together eight Democrats, while the Democratic plan districts together two Democrats, one Republican and one Democrat, and four Republicans with each other.
Sometimes these conflicts are unavoidable, but it's crystal clear to me that the Republicans went out of their way to screw with Democratic legislators - while the Democratic plan is mostly fair. After all, it's hard to imagine that the Dems deliberately set out to give their caucus leader an opponent that's a sitting legislator. If they were trying to set up their leader for an easy race, well, that's certainly not the way to do it!
There's a lot to blog about on the legislative maps (which you can play with here). I'm hoping to get a chance to dig in to specific regions and other issues later this week. Feel free to use this post to discuss this topic and anything else you see in the legislative map proposals.