Latest legislative maps would set up competitive state House, Senate elections in Routt County
The third staff plan maps for legislative redistricting are out, and if they become the final districts, Routt County would likely have competitive elections in both the Colorado Senate and House of Representatives.
Released Tuesday, the new maps would likely leave the Colorado General Assembly in control of the Democrats if finalized, with Democrats poised to capture a majority in both houses, according to election results from eight previous statewide elections dating back to 2016.
The Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission needs to approve a map to send to the Colorado Supreme Court by the end of the day Tuesday. A super majority of eight commissioners, including at least two that are nonpartisan, need to approve the maps; otherwise, the latest staff map would be automatically submitted to the court.
Democrats have controlled state government since 2019, with them having majorities in the House, Senate and the governor’s office, and the new maps set them up to start the next decade in control, as well.
Still, this is the first time Colorado is using independent commissions for redistricting, and some Republicans believe the process should create more red seats simply because the last process was controlled by Democrats.
The district, drawn using 2020 census data, showed Colorado’s population has grown by about 15% since 2010. Routt County did not grow as fast, seeing its population jump by about 5.6%.
The slower growth means that Routt and Eagle counties together are not enough population to be their own house district, as they are currently. The new district on the third map groups Moffat and Rio Blanco counties with Routt and most of Eagle, excluding a portion that is within the Roaring Fork Valley.
Previous maps split the city of Steamboat Springs off from much of the rest of Routt County, but the past two versions have kept the county intact.
This district, labeled number 26, would be one of the more competitive in the state, with previous elections signaling Democrats would be favored by less than 3%. The entire map creates 34 districts that are favored Democrats by 8.5% or more and 21 districts that favor republicans by the same margin.
The commission has defined a competitive race as those with a margin favoring one party by 8.5% or less. District 26 is one of 10 competitive races, but eight of them favor Democrats. To control the House, one party needs to have at least 33 of the 65 seats.
Routt County’s current House Rep. Dylan Roberts, a Democrat from Avon would still live within the district, but Roberts is opting to run for the State Senate in 2022.
On the new Senate districts map Routt County is grouped with most of the counties in the Northwest portion of the state, including Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties to the west and other resort-dominated counties like Eagle, Grand and Summit.
The map draws current Routt County Rep. Bob Rankin away from northwest Colorado, instead creating a district that includes Roaring Fork Valley communities like the Republican’s home city of Carbondale.
Rankin would be in the same district as fellow Republican Sen. Don Coram, of Montrose. Because Rankin won a four-year term last year, and Coram is up for reelection in 2022, Rankin would get the seat because state law doesn’t allow for incumbents to redistricted out of their seat.
Coram would need to move districts to be able to seek reelection in 2022.
Of the 35 Senate seats, 15 are strongly blue, nine are strongly red, and the other 11 are considered competitive. Of those 11, Democrats are favored in seven of the races. A party needs 18 total seats to have a majority.
The commission has meetings scheduled each of the next few days ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline to approve a map. The final map, which could be one approved or the latest staff map if consensus isn’t reached, needs to be sent to the State Supreme Court by Oct. 15.
Like with the Congressional District Maps, legal challenges are expected to the maps and need to be filed by Oct. 22 ahead of a hearing at the court Oct. 25.
The final maps need to be approved by the court by Dec. 29.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
1. UPDATED: Steamboat man dies, 2 others injured after 2-car wreck behind Old Town Hot Springs