Redistricting: A new Democratic map addresses objections

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Lots of news on the redistricting front. Here's a recap of the last 36 hours:

On Tuesday, the O's Jeff Mapes reported that Congressman Kurt Schrader had joined Congressman Earl Blumenauer in criticizing both of the congressional redistricting plans produced by the legislature.

"I just don't see the need," said Schrader. "There has to be a smarter, more bipartisan, less egregious way to do it."

On Wednesday, the state GOP jumped the gun and filed a lawsuit in Yamhill County on redistricting. That's a bit silly given that the legislature hasn't yet produced a plan, nor has the clock run out. It certainly seems to reveal a lack of confidence in the legislature's Republicans on the part of the state party.

The lawsuit was especially premature, since Wednesday saw the Democratic map-drawers release a new congressional redistricting proposal.

(Here's the PDF. Hopefully it'll be up on the Moonshadow site shortly. Update: It's up!)

The new Democratic map is a quantitative improvement over the previous maps - as it shifts just around 90,000 people from one district to another. The earlier Dem map had moved some 200,000 and the GOP map moves about 470,000.

In addition to being more tightly constrained to the current map, it's also more tightly constrained to county boundaries (as the Rs claim they want.) All of Hood River County is now in OR-2. All of Lincoln County is in OR-5. The only split counties are the ones split in the current map - Multnomah, Clackamas, Benton, and Josephine.

If this new map becomes law, the major shifts would be to give Kurt Schrader's OR-5 the entire city of Milwaukie (from OR-3), and a somewhat bigger chunk of Southwest Portland (from OR-1). It's hard to tell on the low-resolution PDF, but I'm told that there are some minor boundary changes between OR-1 and OR-3 in Northwest Portland, mostly to make the numbers balance out.

This new Democratic map looks like a solid entry as a compromise map that addresses many of the concerns of the Republicans as well as the desire by Blumenauer and Schrader for a map that represents a less-radical change.

Of course, there's always a critic somewhere and on this new map, that role is played by Congressman David Wu - who told the O's Jeff Mapes:

Wu complained that the proposal takes away about 36,000 of his 87,000 constituents in heavily Democratic Multnomah County and comes within a "Tiger Woods Drive" of moving his Southwest Portland house out of the district.

Setting aside his rather unfortunate choice of metaphors, Wu doesn't seem to understand the math, the politics, or the law. His OR-1 district needs to lose around 36,000 residents, so they're going to come from somewhere. With legislative Republicans, Schrader and Blumenauer all objecting to new county splits, that shift has to come from Multnomah County (rather than breaking up Columbia, Lincoln, or Hood River counties.) And as for his house? Well, the legislature is specifically barred from considering the impact on particular incumbents. And besides, what's wrong with being several hundred yards inside the district? He's still inside it, after all.

This new map seems to put the legislature on the path toward bringing this process to a close. Stay tuned.

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    Just to get the obvious snark out of the way: Given his recent string of public relations entanglements, I would think Congressman Wu would avoid any and all "tiger" references. Just goes to show what I think.

    As to the redistricting proposals I for one will not look forward to being shifted to CD5 after years of service from Representative Blumenauer in CD3. Expectations of Rep. Schrader will be high from those of us that seek information from our elected Congressman, warning now provided.

    At the same time, being a Dem in Milwaukie certainly will make future elections a little more exciting. Not that exciting is typically better but the outcome of votes could provide better, blogable fodder.

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    I cannot tell whether I have been moved from CD1 to CD3, but I do not live to far from Wu and may be on the other side of Tiger's drive. If so I will not be a happy camper. CD3 does not reflect my community. I live in Portland, but have worked in Washington County in the high tech sector for most of my 27 years in Oregon. CD1 is my community in terms of issues, friends, neighbors.

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    Full disclosure: My firm built campaign websites for Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader, and Brad Avakian. I speak only for myself.

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        Well, they aren't supposed to take partisan advantage into account, but they are supposed to take things like political and geographic boundaries and communities of interest into account.

        By the latter set of standards, the congressional map that the D's came up with looks pretty good.

        Basic fairness is what I've been pushing for here, and this looks like it may deliver it insofar as the congressional districts are concerned.

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    My preference is for moving as few voters as necessary to balance the districts, and this latest proposal seems to do that pretty well.

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      Jim, How in the world do ou equate moving 30K voters (Dems) out of CD1 as moving "as few voters as necessary?" That is a huge bite of Dem voters out of CD1, IMO.

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    Hello!? If CD 1 loses over 1/3 of the voters in Multnomah County, we stand an excellent chance of losing the 1st CD to a Republican candidate. Not good!

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      Since the fastest-growing county in the state is Washington County, the necessary balance of population is absolutely necessary and Congressional District 1 has more persons in it than its proportional share. Likewise, Congressional District 3 would be too large without moving persons to Congressional District 5. This proposal obviously does not favor manipulating/gerrymandering to retain as large of a Democrat registration/voter advantage as is currently in place in Congressional District 1. Conversely there will be an increase of Democrat (more progressive) registrations/voters in Congressional District 5. Hopefully, the bull's-eye on Kurt Schrader's back may disappear or least be reduced in size.

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    This map is a big improvement over the last one.

    It's interesting contrasting Wu's comments with those of Jules Bailey...

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    Two things my amature-self notices from the map:

    1. CD5 gains more Multnomah County votes which will probably help it stay democratic.

    2. CD4 gets more Josephine County votes, which probably won't be good for Peter DeFazio.

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      Uh..Multnomah County is solidly blue-- it's Washington County we have to worry about. And as the Chair of the WashCo Dems, I know whereof I speak:)

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        Sorry-- just re-red your post Chad and realized you are speaking about CD5 gaining more votes. Not sure what it gains us to assure Schrader victory when Wu has a much more liberal voting record than Kurt. And assuming we have a new candidate after the primaries, I'm pretty sure all those who are showing interest would be much more liberal than Kurt.

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    After studying the new map and giving it more thought, I am now more reassured that this new plan could work. We will, of course, have to wait and see what comes out of the remaining hearings and testimony, but this is now looking better to me and could be the key to unlock a satisfactory redistricing plan for all concerned (esp. those of us of a blue persuasion:)

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