DENVER The state Supreme Court handed a final victory to Democrats on Monday by approving their plan for new districts in the state Legislature.
The court accepted a map that puts Durango and Gunnison in the same state House district and ships off conservative Montezuma County to join a Montrose-based district.
It also cements the Democratic Partys sweep of the once-a-decade fight over Colorados political geography. Last week, the Supreme Court upheld a Democratic-drawn map of Colorados seven congressional districts.
Mondays three-paragraph decision did not elaborate on the justices reasoning, and it did not say how each of the seven justices voted.
The new map makes big trouble for many Republicans, including Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio. Brown now will have to travel three mountain passes between Durango and Gunnison, and he will be in a district that is much easier for Democrats to win than his old one, which was drawn along the Cortez-Durango-Pagosa Springs axis.
Brown did not complain about the decision.
Thats the way the system works, and thats whats been decided. Theres no use crying over spilled milk, he said.
Gunnison has a lot of good people, he said.
Its going to take more time away from home, but I plan on trying to represent them just like Ive tried to represent people down here, Brown said.
Other Republicans were angry, including Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs.
It is disappointing to see the Supreme Court validate such blatantly partisan and politically vindictive maps. It is clear that the reapportionment process in Colorado is broken and in need of reform, Cadman said in a news release.
Cadman now shares a Colorado Springs district with Sen. Keith King, the Senate Republican with the most experience in education policy. Only one of them will survive past 2012.
Other senior and up-and-coming Republicans also will have to run against each other in primaries if they want to stay in the Legislature.
The map harms a few Democrats, too, by either putting them in safe GOP districts or into districts with other incumbent Democrats.
But Democrats were happy about Mondays decision, which creates by their definition 35 House and Senate districts that both parties have a chance to win.
These new districts will favor representatives who are accountable and responsive, and Democrats will field candidates who fit this profile, said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio in a news release.
Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, expressed confidence that Republicans could win in the new districts and take control of the Legislature.
Currently, Democrats have a 20-15 advantage in the Senate, while Republicans hold a 33-32 edge in the House.