BY FREDA MIKLIN
On November 15, the Colorado Supreme Court said, in a ruling written by Justice Richard Gabriel regarding the plan submitted by the Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, “The Commission did not abuse its discretion in applying the criteria set forth (in) the Colorado Constitution…The court thus approves the Plans and orders the Commission to file those Plans with the Colorado Secretary of State no later than December 29, 2021, as required by…the Colorado Constitution.”
The Colorado Republican Committee, Colorado Republican State Senate Caucus, Colorado Republican State House Caucus, all represented by Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners, and the Colorado League of United Latin American Citizens had all urged approval of the plan. Fair Lines Colorado, Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research, along with Lynn Gerber, Doris Morgan, and Thomas E. Norton had urged its disapproval.
Overall, there are few significant changes to current state house and senate districts. Presently, Democrats hold a 41 to 24 majority over Republicans in the 65-member state House and a 20 to 15 majority in the 35-member state Senate.
Historically, redistricting, done every ten years following the U.S. Census, was done by the party in the majority in the state legislature. That process, that frequently resulted in gerrymandering or accused gerrymandering, often eventually ended up at the Colorado Supreme Court anyway to be sorted out. In 2018, when Constitutional Amendments X and Y creating Independent Congressional and Legislative Commissions comprised of like numbers of Democrats, Republicans and Independents were placed before the voters, the heads of both major political parties endorsed both amendments. Based on the fact that the Colorado Supreme Court accepted both the legislative and congressional maps that the first-ever Independent Commissions proposed after getting input at dozens of public hearings around the state, it appears that the new system, though not completely shielded from political influence, worked pretty well.
Although there are no new legislative districts, Colorado will have a new 8th congressional district in the November 8, 2022 election. So far, two Democrats, HD31 Rep. Yadira Caraveo and Adams County Commissioner Charles “Chaz” Tedesco, and four Republicans, SD23 Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine, small business owner Guilianna “Jewels” Gray, and 2018 University of Northern Colorado graduate Ryan Gonzalez have announced their intentions to compete for their parties’ nomination for Colorado CD8 in the June 28, 2022 primaries.