Prior to becoming executive director of the Colorado GOP in 2002, I handled redistricting for Governor Owens in 2001. I again worked on redistricting in 2011. In both cases, Republicans have been ill-served by the current system. We have not obtained fair results, in many instances. Consider:
- In both 2001 and 2011, a single Denver District Court judge picked a congressional map from a handful of options drawn by partisans. In both cases, a Democrat-drawn map was chosen. This is not only unfair to Republicans, it is unfair to the many non-metro area residents of the state.
- In 2011, a state House map was rammed through at the 11th hour by a narrow majority on the Colorado Reapportionment Commission. It was drawn to be 36-29 Democrat, and it has performed as expected. Only three House districts have changed party hands all decade.
- In 2011, Republicans had very little say in the drawing of the 107 congressional and legislative districts.
- In 2021, if the Democrats control the Governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature (unfortunately, a possibility), they could gerrymander the eight districts to lock in six for the Democrats. Likely only one of the eight seats would be Republican. (One seat would likely be competitive.)
Change is needed. For the past three years, a handful of Republicans have worked to build momentum behind this effort. We started small. A few fair-minded Democrats decided to join us. We faced immense resistance from many liberal groups and elected Democrats. Last fall, momentum gathered steam when Davita CEO Kent Thiry signed on in support. Our core backers include former U.S. Senator Hank Brown, former Governor Bill Owens, former Congressman Bob Beauprez, Senate President Kevin Grantham, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, former Senate President John Andrews, former Senate Majority Leaders Mark Hillman and Norma Anderson, former Speaker Frank McNulty, former Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, and former State Reps. Rob Witwer and Steve Tool, to name just a few. Every Republican member of the state legislature voted in favor of placing Refs. Y & Z on the November ballot.
These measures ensure Republicans and Democrats get an equal voice in the redistricting process, require a supermajority vote of the commission to pass a map, and take map-drawing out of the hands of partisans and instead require nonpartisan staff using neutral criteria to draw maps.