On Friday, the Colorado Reapportionment Commission released proposed maps for the new state legislative districts.
While the Democrats' proposal leaves Manitou Springs nested in House District 18, which is represented by Democrat Rep. Pete Lee, the Republican map (Final Plan House 002v1) carves this Democrat stronghold out and places it in House District 20, which is currently represented by House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument.
This proposal doesn't sit well with the powerful Republican leader, as is made clear in an e-mail apparently written by Stephens to a supporter. The e-mail has quickly made the rounds in political circles, and the Indy has obtained a copy. We have a call in to Stephens, and will update here with any response.
In part, the e-mail reads:
... on Friday the ReApportionment Commission re-drew a Version 002 of the House District maps and it completely guts House District 20 from a community of interest around USAFA to one of "small towns". *We lose our most conservative areas* Briargate, Pine Creek, Powers, Research Parkway/ Woodmen to a different district. *We keep Monument/TriLakes, Glenneagle/ BlackForrest/Peyton and then swing WEST - south of USAFA to pick up Green Mountain Falls, Manitou Springs, Woodland Park, Cascade and Bear Creek bordering Fremont County!
The map moves us from a heavily Repub district (We were total about 71% if you count that Independents in HD20 vote Repub) we move more to 58% or so because Independents in Manitou Springs vote Dem. AND to run in this proposed district will take lots of $$$$ because it becomes more rural - so you have to mail into areas, run large billboards. There is nothing in the map that keeps us a community of interest. We even LOSE School District 20 and pick up all the small rural districts. It is very troublesome and the ReApportionment commission meets on Monday. I need as many HD20 people as possible to see the proposed maps and comment. If they LIKE the proposal let me know. If they DON'T like the proposal I need to know - send me an email or letter or show up at the Commission Meeting in Denver at 11am across the street from the capitol in LSB-A.
Please let me know your thoughts on this and please get this to as many people as possible! They want to approve the maps by Sept 19th - which means Monday is the only day to make your voice heard. ... I just saw the map yesterday afternoon and have been trying to make sense of it and get the word out.
Thanks for your help - this is very important the next ten years to the future of our district.
For the record, Rep. Lee doesn't care for the proposed map, either.
"I think that Manitou is properly placed in House District 18. Placing it in House District 20 would fundamentally disenfranchise the voters in Manitou," Lee says, pointing out that there are a number of justifications behind maintaining Manitou in HD 18. The communities currently in HD 18, which include Manitou and downtown Colorado Springs, make up what he believes is a community. These communities are the most progressive in the Springs, and they share much in the way of culture and political outlook.
Further, as Stephens is not in favor of losing 13 points from her Republican advantage, Lee doesn't like the idea of losing these Democrats to the Republican HD 20. "The voters of Manitou are not going to be as appropriately represented," he says. Currently HD 18 is roughly a third Democrat, a third Republican and a third independent.
"It is a district that is a competitive district, and I think that's appropriate. After all, there aren't too many competitive districts in El Paso County, and if the Republican map gets adopted, it would be a disservice to the Democratic voters in the community."
Lee points to an interview in this paper with Republican Rep. Bob Gardner, in which he stated that the Republicans ought to be focused on removing Lee.
"Severing House District 18 would be consistent with the transparent goal of defeating me," Lee says. "It is not consistent with the goal of maintaining communities of interest."