Reassignment: Democrats and Republicans publish competing Washington legislative plans


Democrats and Republicans made their inaugural moves on Tuesday in the decade-long redrawing of the state‘s political boundaries, releasing competing maps for the state’s 49 legislative districts.

The proposals from the four voting members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission will serve as the starting point for negotiations, as the bipartisan body has a November 15 deadline for final maps.

The opening volleys mixed partisan maneuvers with efforts to strengthen historically underrepresented communities – all constrained by population shifts that are causing some districts to shrink and others to expand.

The Republican maps, published by former state lawmakers Joe Fain and Paul Graves, aim to create many more competitive districts – an attitude that makes political sense for the minority party in the US House of Representatives and Senate.

The Democrats’ cards, sponsored by state works council chair April Sims and former lawmaker Brady Piñero Walkinshaw, did not emphasize partisan competitiveness as a priority, saying their goals were fair representation and the promotion of color communities.

The bickering over the original plans quickly started when Democratic Party leader Tina Podlodowski in a statement criticized the GOP plan as “gerrymandering”, arguing that they should “go back to the drawing board and try to make maps that.” respect the law ”.

State Republican Party leader Caleb Heimlich responded with his own statement accusing the Democrats of gerrymandering and calling their draft cards “the definition of political hacking” aimed at keeping the Democrats “under constant scrutiny.” keep.

Graves said his map would nearly double the number of swing districts from six to 11, and released a spreadsheet calculating Democratic proposals to reduce the number of swing districts in the state to just three. “We want competition,” said Graves. “Apparently not Democrats.”

(He based his list of swing districts on areas where the total number of Republican and Democratic votes in last year’s statewide election was within 3 percentage points.)

Graves’ card would also pull 22 incumbents, mostly Democrats, out of their current counties – a move he defended. “To be honest, this is a card for 7.7 million people, not the 147 currently in office [in the legislature],” he said.

His proposals would seek to give Republicans a better chance in districts they lost when Washington voters turned against a GOP defined by President Donald Trump.

For example, in King County, Graves’ proposal would seek to make the 47th Legislative District more conservative by moving it south and east to include Black Diamond and Maple Valley.

Redistribution in 2021

For more information on Washington’s redistricting schedule and public submission process, please visit

In contrast, Sims said her intent was not to artificially maximize the number of swing districts for the two major political parties, but to “draw maps that reflect the political realities of our state” and “empower underrepresented communities.”

She pointed out her plan for the Yakama Nation, which complied with her request to unify its reservation in central Washington by completely redesigning it into a 15th Sims, also indicated that her proposal would create nine colored majority legislative districts, including four in southern King County.

Both her and Walkinshaw’s plan would make it difficult for some incumbent Republicans to be re-elected. For example, in Whatcom County’s 42nd Legislative District, they would urge Senator Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, who nearly lost in 2018, to run more Democratic voters in Bellingham.

Sims said her plan would draw 14 incumbents from their current districts, who would be split almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

There was some consensus as Republicans and Democrats suggested different ways to keep the Yakama reservation in a single district and reduce district divisions in cities like Bremerton and Everett.

Some of the new district proposals could be staggering to incumbents and voters. Graves’, for example, would drastically shift Seattle’s 43rd Legislative District, disband its northern districts from Seattle and drag it across Elliot Bay to include Bainbridge Island.

According to the law, the new political districts must have the same number of inhabitants as possible – around 157,000 people per district – and must not be induced to favor any party or discriminate against any group. They should also avoid the splitting of cities and other political subdivisions as much as possible. The law also says that cards “provide a fair and effective display” and “promote electoral competition”.

At least three of the four voting members of the commission must approve the new cards by November 15th. The legislature can only make minor changes. Should the commission fail to reach an agreement, the country’s Supreme Court would be tasked with creating the new maps.

The cards will be available for the mid-term elections in 2022.

Commissioners are expected to publish their proposals for the state’s 10 congressional districts on Tuesday, September 28.

Sims said she looks forward to public statements about the card proposals.

“The nice thing about the process of posting draft cards is that it gives us people the opportunity to give us feedback and see places in daylight that we might have a blind spot,” she said.


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