DENVER — Colorado's fast-growing northern suburbs are the first pick to become home to the state's next congressperson.
The staff for the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission released its preliminary map showing the state's new Congressional District lines, including the state's new eighth Congressional District.
Congressional District 8 would include Arvada, Broomfield, Brighton, Firestone, Frederick, Henderson, Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster.
>>INTERACTIVE MAP: Draft of Colorado Congressional districts
"We chose to put it in the northern metro area," said Jeremiah Barry, attorney for the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission. "The first reason was we recognize that this was the fastest-growing area of the state, and the second was a recognition that although nearly 30 percent of the population in the state are Hispanics, none of the current seven districts are represented by a Hispanic."
Based on the ethnic and race summary provided by the commission staff, CD8 would have the highest percentage of Hispanic voters among all districts.
The Congressional Districts need to fit certain criteria.
They all need to be as equal in population as possible.
They need to be contiguous, meaning you should be able to travel in all parts of the district without ever leaving it.
It has to comply with the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits stacking a district against a minority group and the candidate they might support.
The districts also need to try to avoid dividing communities.
They also need to try to politically competitive, which is not apparent from this initial map.
"This proved more challenging than we thought," said Barry.
From a voter registration standpoint, only one district would be competitive. Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter represents the western suburbs in Congressional District 7. Under the new map, unaffiliated voters would make up 44% of the voting bloc, followed by 29% Republicans and 25.5% Democrats.
Currently, as the district is drawn today, Democrats have a 12-point advantage over Republicans.
When asked for a comment after being given a tough draw in the preliminary map, his Congressional campaign provided a statement that really did not address his Congressional District.
"Colorado's growth is reflected in the receipt of an 8th congressional district. I support drawing the new 8th in the North Metro area, as specifically outlined in the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's proposed map. We expect the preliminary map to change over time and we hope the Commissioners will focus on issues of legislative concern and communities of interest as is required under the Constitution," his campaign said in a statement.
The preliminary map turns Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert's Congressional District 3 redder.
The new map removes Pueblo and the San Luis Valley and connects those communities to red-leaning Congressional District 4, which covers the eastern plains and northeast Colorado.
The new CD3 goes from a 6-point Republican voter edge to an 11-point advantage.
"The map didn't change enough to make it a coin flip-type district. It would have been hard for even the most partisan Democratic gerrymander of this map. I mean, you can only do so much," said Ryan Winger, data analyst for conservative-leaning polling firm Magellan Strategies.
Does he think this gives Boebert a chance to stay in Congress as long as she wants?
"Yeah, I think it probably does, but I think there's obviously a couple other seats that are safe seats for either Republicans or Democrats," Winger said.
Based on the preliminary map, there are four districts that appear to be safe for Democrats: Denver's CD1, Boulder's CD2, Aurora's CD6 and the new CD8.
Boebert's CD3, as well as CD4 and El Paso County's CD5 appear to be safer for Republicans.
This map now gets taken on the road for public comment.
"Once they go around the state and have these, at least three, meetings in each of the current 7 Congressional Districts, what will happen is that they are required to draw new maps based on the feedback that they hear from those meetings," said Winger.
The Commission has announced dates and cities for the map roadshow but has yet to announce locations and times.
The maps will be redrawn before they get approved, which will not happen any earlier than September.
To become the final map, eight of the 12 commissioners must approve, including two of the unaffiliated commissioners.
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