Thursday, September 21, 2006


Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map...
Draw it up so one party wins, forget those Constitutions...

OK so maybe I am making a terrible parody of "Matchmaker" from "Fiddler on the Roof," but I do have a point. Here it is:

Huntsman, House Speaker Greg Curtis and Senate President John Valentine - all Republicans - endorsed a map Wednesday for four congressional districts, in which Matheson would represent northern Salt Lake County and Summit and Morgan counties.

Even in that super GOP year of 2002, Jim got 60% from his portion of Salt Lake County. By "Northern Salt Lake County" they probably mean: Rose Park, West Valley, Magna, Salt Lake City, and a few otherwords, the most Democratic parts of the state. Add to that Park City and Morgan country for fun and you have a super safe Democratic seat. I haven't checked, but I bet if you look at the Utah Democratic Party's 2001 redistricting plan, this district would look awefully similar. Jim proposed a more consolidated district based on areas of interest, not voting patterns in 2001.
Matheson's spokeswoman Alyson Heyrend refused Wednesday to comment on the new proposal.
"This is the governor's map, and the Republican leaders' map," Heyrend said. "They're going to have to answer questions about the map. It's not Matheson's map."
In a statement, Matheson said there was a compromise bill that took partisanship out of the formula, "until one member of Congress blocked the bill's progress. If it gets unstuck, I look forward to voting for it. But clearly, the ball is in the majority party's court."
Heyrend did say that Matheson will vote for the bill to give Utah a fourth seat - with or without the at-large provision - if it makes it to the House floor.

Good point Alyson. But I disagree with MD Rep. Steny Hoyer who thinks that having Congress drawing up their districts is a bad idea. Right now, they delegate that to their cronyies in their local state houses, while giving them input on what they actually want. What Congress should do, is set up minimal conditions for a fair district and then let localities decide. For example, they should be as compact as possible, using town/city and county lines, with "communities of interests" kept in mind.

That is, Utah could have one rural district, one district centered around Utah County/Southern SL County, one based around Davis/Weber/Morgan/Toole County, and one based around Salt Lake/Summitt County. This would help everyone, all districts would be 55-60% Republican, addressing the needs of the communities and not playing favorities or ignoring certain areas.

Will Utah get a 4th district? Maybe. Will this scheme be challenged in the courts? Probabbly if it passes. Will Jim happily take his safe seat, or mess up the GOPs plans and run in the 4th (with S. SL County, which loves him, and St. George which is starting to love him, and Iron County, his ancestral home)? I could really see Jim running in the 4th, winning and giving another Democrat (please no Rocky) a chance in the Democratic-leaning new 2nd.

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