[EM] Politicians Wade Into Redistricting
DEMOREP1 at aol.com
DEMOREP1 at aol.com
Mon Aug 13 16:26:36 PDT 2001
D- Here a gerrymander, there a gerrymander, everywhere a gerrymander. What's
new and different in the math of minority rule gerrymanders ???
Democracy remedy- proportional representation.
Politicians Wade Into Redistricting
Battle for Congress Rages State by State
By ROBERT TANNER
.c The Associated Press
(Aug. 13) - Mayors in the Boston area are in a fury. Politicians in Iowa and
Indiana plan to move their homes across the state. Several members of
Congress face an end to their Washington careers.
One of the most sweeping political dramas of the year - redistricting - is
quietly building tension. Though it gets scant public attention, it will help
shape the nation's politics for a decade.
The most vehement battle is for control of Congress, with the first results
emerging now from legislative backrooms on detailed street-by-street maps.
The maps themselves don't decide who wins and loses, but they can make an
election a safe bet by drawing a district so it is overrun with voters of one
So far, with eight states done, the fight is a draw. Democrats and
Republicans each appear likely to lose a seat in the Midwest and a new seat
in Nevada is engineered as a toss-up.
The big battles, however, await in Texas and California. Strategists agree
they could determine if either party picks up congressional seats from
redistricting, and, potentially, control of the U.S. House.
''This is an inside-politics kind of enterprise. Very few people understand
it, very few people pay attention to it. But in terms of who controls
Congress, it's huge,'' said T.J. Rooney, a state representative in
Pennsylvania. Maps are drawn by state legislators in all but a handful of
In Pennsylvania, as in Michigan and Ohio, Republicans in control of state
government are vowing to oust five Democratic members of the U.S. House,
adding to the GOP's 12-seat margin in the House.
In the end, Republicans say they'll gain eight to 12 seats from
redistricting. Democrats counter that they'll make small gains in enough stat
es to leave redistricting a wash. The Democratic plan is to then take back
Congress in 2002 because of what they hope will be voter backlash against the
Besides Congress, redistricting changes the political geography for state
legislatures, county commissions, city councils and more. It comes every 10
years, after the Census, with new political districts drawn to reflect
demographic changes and to give each electoral district roughly the same
The details might be eye-glazing, but for politicians, this is life or death.
Already, there have been examples of how personal redistricting fights can
- In Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Frank Keating proposed a remap that pits two
fellow GOP congressmen against each other and leaves the state's lone
Democrat mostly untouched. Who benefits? Candidate Cathy Keating - the
governor's wife, running for an open seat. Keating's allies have denied the
governor is trying to help his spouse.
- In Oregon, Democrats in the state House boycotted the capitol for five days
in an effort to stop a GOP-backed plan. Upset Republicans hired people to
deliver summons ordering them back. None of the lawmakers could be found.
- A city alderman in St. Louis refused to give up the floor in a filibuster,
opposing a city redistricting map that she said would damage black
representation. Denied a bathroom break, aides handed her a wastebasket and
held a tablecloth around her; police cited her for urinating in public.
''What I did behind that tablecloth is my business,'' Alderman Irene Smith
said, successfully blocking the vote.
In Massachusetts, an intra-party fight could see Boston-area districts sliced
and diced, angering local mayors. New maps that threw together incumbents in
Iowa and Indiana spurred congressmen in each state to leave their hometowns
for more winnable districts. In New York, three members of Congress hired
lobbyists to protect their seats.
Many maps will go to court and won't be settled until long past 2002.
Forty-three states must redraw congressional lines; the rest have only one
district. Eight states have final maps.
In Indiana, where slow population growth means the state will lose one
district, the GOP is likely to lose a seat as two Republicans, Brian Kerns
and Steve Buyer, were placed in the same district.
In Illinois, also losing a seat, Democrats are likely on the losing end, as
Democratic Rep. David Phelps was redrawn into a Republican-leaning district
with an incumbent, GOP Rep. Tim Johnson.
And in Nevada, which gained a House seat because of population growth, the
new district is evenly split Democrats to Republicans.
The jackpot states will be decided this fall: Texas, where Republicans say
they'll gain between four and eight seats; California, where Democrats say
they can gain up to three.
Last month in Michigan, the GOP-controlled legislature produced a map that
would reverse the 9-7 Democratic control of the congressional delegation to
9-6 Republican. GOP Gov. John Engler is all but certain to approve.
That spurred 24-year Rep. David Bonior, thrown into a district with a fellow
Democrat, to run for governor, acknowledging that ''Republicans have made the
decision to shut the door on my career in Congress.''
Rep. John Dingell, the nation's longest-serving House member, saw another
Democrat, Lynn Rivers, put into his district.
''We're confronting a vicious, hateful Republican partisan gerrymander,''
said Dingell, first elected in 1955. ''The motivations of my Republican
friends are ... steal as many votes as they can get, by any means, fair or
The GOP contends the maps reflect a state that has become more Republican.
The same argument is heard in Texas, which gains two seats. ''If they're
fair, they're going to give Republicans a majority,'' said Susan Weddington,
state GOP chairwoman. Legislative gridlock, however, sent the maps to the
California, too, is an unknown. GOP analysts say the delegation is too
Democrat-heavy already - the Democrats hold a 32-20 edge. But Rep. Martin
Frost, a Texas Democrat overseeing redistricting, thinks there's room for
more representatives from his party.
Congressional redistricting sits high on both parties' agendas, said GOP Rep.
Tom Davis of Virginia, who is working with state leaders to help draft maps
and craft legal challenges. He won't talk money.
Democrats promise to spend $13 million, Frost said: ''Both parties are deadly
serious about this and both parties are working very hard.''
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