State GOP chairman: Proposed new district maps from Dems are gerrymandered ‘abominations’

Sep 27, 2021, 5:29 AM
legislative district maps...
House Democratic Caucus Appointee draft legislative map (courtesy Washington State Redistricting Commission)
(courtesy Washington State Redistricting Commission)

With the Washington State Redistricting Commission set to finalize its legislative district maps on Nov. 15, Republicans claim that Democrats are redrawing their lines in a noncompetitive and partisan fashion.

Washington state Republican Party Chairman Caleb Heimlich appeared on KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show to appeal to Republican constituents to make their voices heard and ensure that the commission avoids any “gerrymandering” that might favor Democrats.

The process refers to using demographic information obtained by the U.S. Census to predict voting trends among a population, and then using that information to designate district maps in a way that gives majority favor to a particular party.

While the Washington State Redistricting Commission is structured in a way that gives Democrats and Republicans equal representation in deciding how the legislative maps are structured, Heimlich is concerned that the draft maps released Sept. 21 are partisan to a fault.

Washington Republicans, Democrats spar over redrawing of state’s legislative map

“What we saw from Republicans, I think, was a good faith effort based roughly on our current maps,” Heimlich said. “Actually, both Republicans tried to make more competitive districts.”

“What we saw from the two Democratic commissioners was really an abomination,” Heimlich continued. “It was a partisan power grab. It was gerrymandering to the extreme. What you saw from their maps as you looked at the districts was basically drawing what are currently swing districts, some of which are held by Republicans, and totally changing the lines to give the Democrats a blatant partisan advantage. It’s an attempt to grab power to take choices away from the voters and to ensure Democrat majorities perpetually and really eliminate choice for the people of Washington state.”

He clarified what he sees as the exact partisan manipulation of the legislative district maps.

“We currently have basically six competitive districts,” Heimlich added. “Both Republican maps increase the number of competitive districts from 6 to 11, and both of the Democrats reduce the number of competitive districts from six to two or three. What that means is you basically have safer Republican districts and safer Democrat districts. Of course in their maps, they had like 16 Republican and 30 Democratic districts.”

The commission accepts public comment before draft district maps are finalized. Heimlich appealed to concerned voters to submit comments of their own.

“The comment should be something to the effect of ‘we want competitive districts; we want the voters to have a choice,’ because ultimately we’re comfortable with that,” Heimlich noted.

“Obviously, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But if we have competitive districts, we like our chances,” he continued. “We generally do well in Washington state. We outperformed the presidential candidate, and I’m optimistic next year we’re going to get some better representation.”

He’s adamant that, given fair representative among state legislative districts, Republicans will fare well in the next general election.

“We’re going to flip seats in the state House, in the state Senate because of those bad policies that Democrats have pushed, but we have to have a fair shot,” Heimlich added. “We have to let the voters choose and have districts that are based on their communities, not these partisan, redistricted lines that the Democrats are pushing.”

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State GOP chairman: Proposed new district maps from Dems are gerrymandered ‘abominations’