DENVER Democrats presented a radical new way to draw Colorados congressional districts Friday and drew a heated response from Republicans.
The maps that Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, revealed would split the Western Slope and Eastern Plains in favor of a Southern Colorado district that stretches from Towaoc to Burlington on the Kansas border and even would take in parts of the southeast Denver suburbs.
Republicans, meanwhile, presented five variations on a map that looks much like the current map, with either Chaffee or Grand counties added to the Western Slopes 3rd Congressional district.
Both parties showed their maps to the bipartisan redistricting committee that legislative leaders created earlier this year. By Friday afternoon, though, the committee was looking a lot less bipartisan.
Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, erupted at the end of the meeting.
As a rural representative, I am very angry that you call it City Integrity, but there is no rural integrity here. I am looking at a map that more than likely would have seven congressmen living within a mile of (Denver International Airport), Coram said.
The Democratic maps would bring big changes for incumbent congressmen. It would sever Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, from his Grand Junction power base. But Tiptons district would gain a few more Republican voters.
In the 2nd Congressional District, Democrat Jared Polis currently has a district that includes Boulder and the Interstate 70 ski towns. Heaths plan would make it a competitive district that stretched north to Wyoming and east to Grand Junction.
The plan would preserve a Democratic district in Denver and a Republican one in Colorado Springs. Two more districts would lean Republican, one would lean Democratic, and two would be toss-ups.
The bipartisan panel will meet this afternoon to discuss the maps.
Lawmakers have said they want to pass a bipartisan map before their session ends May 11. They redraw the maps every 10 years, after the Census.
Reach Joe Hanel at firstname.lastname@example.org.