Proposed U.S. Congressional districts move Routt to CD2; puts 2022 incumbents Boebert, Neguse in same district
The district would stretch from Boulder to Craig and have a significant Democratic Party lean.
The first staff map from an independent commission drawing Colorado’s eight U.S. Congressional Districts moves Routt County into a reworked 2nd District that would stretch from Boulder across northern Colorado to the Utah border.
Routt County’s current 3rd District representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, of Rifle, lives within the boundaries of this new district but so does current 2nd District Rep. Joe Neguse.
If the commission approved this first staff map, Boebert would be the likely underdog in the incumbent versus incumbent 2022 midterm race in a district that leans blue. In eight statewide elections since 2016, voters in the proposed district chose the Democratic Party candidate by an average of 22.4%.
The district is part of a reimagined map released by the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission on Friday that splits up the Western Slope into a northern and southern district that each spans the continental divide. The 3rd District now includes much of southwestern Colorado, from Mesa County to Las Animas County.
The layout of the district is not universally supported, with some saying larger communities on the eastern half of the district will overshadow smaller western counties, while others say connection to those large communities that share similar issues can be an asset for Routt County.
This is the first of three maps that nonpartisan staff will draw as the commission works to finalize the districts and get them to the Colorado Supreme Court before the Sept. 28 deadline. The commission will hold hearings over the next week, after which the commission could vote to adopt this map or have staff draw another.
Routt County Republican Chair Pete Wood said he had been getting calls from people concerned about what the map means for the county, as it would connect very rural communities, like Garfield, Moffat and Routt counties, with larger urban centers in Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties.
“They are huge university towns and big urban centers with a whole different common interest,” Wood said. “They’re the folks, largely the Front Range, who voted in the reintroduction of wolves into the Western Slope.
“Combining us with those interests seems very, very disjointed to say the least,” Wood added.
But Catherine Carson, chair of the Routt County Democrats, had a different take on the maps, saying that issues Routt County is facing, such as affordable housing and child care shortages, are happening in Front Range communities, as well.
“I think it gives Routt a strong districtwide voice in certain critical national legislative areas that are very similar with Boulder County,” Carson said. “One of the key areas is affordable housing. There’s some key legislation that would be very helpful for both Boulder County and Routt County.”
Routt County has been in the 3rd District since 1983, when that district was redrawn to include most of the Western Slope. Before then, there was both a northern and southern congressional district.
The proposed northern district is at least in part the result of an attempt by commissioners to create a southern district that connects the San Luis Valley with the rest of the Western Slope. That area was grouped with most of eastern Colorado on the preliminary map released in June.
The proposed 3rd District includes part or all of 27 counties, including cities like Vail, Aspen, Grand Junction, Durango and Pueblo. This proposed district voted for Republican candidates by 5.5% in eight statewide elections since 2016.
The new 2nd District would include part or all of at least 11 counties, including cities like Boulder, Longmont, Estes Park, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs and Craig.
Wood said he hopes the next iteration of the map would have a more traditional looking 3rd District that groups Routt County with the rest of the Western Slope.
“We need to maintain the contiguous framework of Congressional District 3, as it is to represent the whole Western Slope,” Wood said. “We need to be represented by someone with those issues in mind. We don’t have issues that are anywhere close to what Boulder County and Larimer County’s are.”
But Carson said she liked how this first staff map looks, saying there are several issues in common between Boulder and Routt counties. For example, Eldora Mountain Ski Resort in Boulder County is at a similar elevation as Steamboat Ski Resort, meaning climate change will likely impact the resorts in a similar way.
“Both summit at around 10,600 feet, so we both have comparatively low altitude ski mountains,” Carson said. “Climate action is another big national legislative area that we’d have a strong, districtwide voice on.”
Carson also noted that since the proposed district is smaller, it would be easier for the representative to spend time in the various communities, which gives the county a stronger voice, she said.
Redistricting commissioners will hold meetings virtually and in person this week to get more feedback from the public about this map. This could lead to commissioners adopting this map or asking staff to try again. The commission needs to approve a map by Sept. 28.
Wood encouraged people unhappy with this first map to submit public comment to the commissions in a nonpartisan way, focusing comments on the communities of interest they see on the Western Slope.
“I encourage Routt County folks to participate and make sure that they are providing an opinion that is fact based and oriented toward those common interests on the Western Slope,” Wood said. “I’m encouraging people to voice their concerns in a polite and meaningful way.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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