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New congressional district proposal shakes up Washington’s political landscape

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on Dec. 28, 2011 at 11:15 am |
December 28, 2011 1:10 pm

The Washington State Redistricting Commission outlined a draft congressional plan today that puts most of Thurston County including Olympia in the new 10th Congressional District, while shifting U.S. Rep. Adam Smith’s 9th district northward to become a minority-dominated district that ranges from northeast Tacoma to Renton, south Seattle, and Bellevue. The plan also preserves Tacoma as an urban anchor for Rep. Norm Dicks’ sprawling 6th district that retains the Olympic Peninsula and sends part of Rep. Dave Reichert’s 8th district over the Cascades into Eastern Washington.

The bipartisan draft map appears to leave Democrats with strong positions in five districts including Smith and Dicks, Republicans with strong positions in four districts including Reichert and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the 3rd, which retains a band of south Thurston County, all of Southwest Washington and all of Klickitat County east of the Cascades.

The plan is the work of Republican redistricting commissioner Slade Gorton and Democratic commissioner Tim Ceis, both of King County. Their proposal answers hopes they would create the state’s first district in which racial minorities held the majority of votes, and it turns departing Congressman Jay Inslee’s 1st district into a toss-up that ranges from northeast King County north to include the rural portions of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Gorton said the new 1st may be the most evenly divided district in the nation. Ceis said the new map is a fair and equitable balance across the state.

The draft needs one other vote from either Democratic Dean Foster of Olympia or Republican Tom Huff. Foster had proposed putting the new 10th in Thurston County.

Foster and Huff are still working to complete a 49-district legislative plan for consideration by Gorton and Ceis.

A few plan highlights:

• U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert’s 8th district, which has been centered in the Bellevue suburbs, retreats further into the Cascade foothills and reaches over into Eastern Washington to include Kittitas County and Chelan for the first time.

• Herrera Beutler’s 3rd district, which had been centered in Vancouver but extended to Olympia, moves slightly southward and eastward.

• Rep. Smith’s 9th would lose its role in Lacey and alongside the military base near Tacoma. It now moves north to include Tukwila, Renton, Newcastle, Mercer Island and Bellevue.

Denny Heck, a longtime Olympia Democrat, ran in the right-leaning 3rd district last year and lost to Herrera Beutler. He filed for another run in 2012 and now appears positioned well to run in a new 10th, if the new plan passes. Similarly, Republican Dick Muri lost to Smith last year in the 9th and is raising money but has not designated which district he’ll run in; he is positioned to run in the 10th, too.

The four partisan commissioners face a Jan. 1 deadline or the job goes to the state Supreme Court. State lawmakers can only fine tune any final maps and they need a super-majority vote to do so. The commission’s nonvoting chair, Lura Powell, has said the recent progress was encouraging.

PROPOSED CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS

CURRENT CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS

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