DENVER Democrats presented a radical new way to draw Colorados congressional districts Friday and drew a heated response from Republicans.
The maps that Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, revealed would split the Western Slope and Eastern Plains in favor of a southern Colorado district that stretches from Towaoc to Burlington on the Kansas border and even would take in parts of the southeast Denver suburbs.
Heath dubbed the maps the City Integrity plan because they preserve the boundaries of most large cities.
Republicans, meanwhile, presented five variations on a map that looks much like the current map, with either Chaffee or Grand counties added to the Western Slopes 3rd Congressional District.
Both parties showed their maps to the bipartisan redistricting committee that legislative leaders created earlier this year. By Friday afternoon, though, the committee was looking a lot less bipartisan.
Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, erupted at the end of the meeting.
As a rural representative, I am very angry that you call it City Integrity, but there is no rural integrity here. I am looking at a map that more than likely would have seven congressmen living within a mile of (Denver International Airport), Coram said.
Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, appeared angrier than he had been all year after the meeting.
I am extremely offended that the Senate Democrats would use this public process as a smokescreen for the political ambitions of two of their members, McNulty said.
McNulty alleged that Democrats were trying to draw a map that Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, could use to beat freshman U,S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma.
Heath criticized McNulty for casting aspersions on his motives. Under Heaths map, voters in Shaffers 4th congressional district would be 27 percent registered Democrats and 37 percent Republicans.
If thats carving out a district for someone, Ill eat it, Heath said.
Democrats, meanwhile, charged that the GOP plan would isolate Hispanic voters in one Denver district.
While the geographic changes in the GOP maps are not big, they would move big blocks of voters from Denvers close-in western or eastern suburbs into the heavily Democratic district in central Denver.
What theyre attempting to do is pack Hispanics into one district, said state Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, a member of the redistricting committee.
Three of the GOP maps move Shaffers hometown of Longmont into the 2nd congressional district, which is currently a safe seat for Democrat Jared Polis.
The Democratic maps would bring big changes for incumbent congressmen. It would sever Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, from his Grand Junction power base. But Tiptons district would gain a few more Republican voters.
Polis currently has a district that includes Boulder and the Interstate 70 ski towns. Heaths plan would make it a competitive district that stretched north to Wyoming and east to Grand Junction.
Heaths plan also would split off the south half of the Eastern Plains from Gardners 4th congressional district.
Perhaps the biggest loser under the Democrats plan would be Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora. His solidly Republican 6th congressional district in the south Denver suburbs would be transformed into a district that leans Democratic.
Heath said his maps would create competitive districts. The plan would preserve a Democratic district in Denver and a Republican one in Colorado Springs. Two more districts would lean Republican, one would lean Democratic, and two would be toss-ups.
Some lean one way or another, but in a competitive year, they all very well could be competitive, Heath said.
The panel will meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss the maps.
Lawmakers have said they want to pass a bipartisan map before their session ends May 11. They redraw the maps every 10 years, after the census.