After a decade of dealing with the problems of being the fifth-fastest growing state, Colorado has something to show for it: a new congressional seat. The change comes after Colorado added 1 million residents (from 3.3 million in 1990 to 4.3 million in 2000). Colorado joins seven other states in picking up a total of twelve seats.
Due to the slow down in population growth in the mid 1980s Colorado did not add a seat after the 1990 census. And it was close to the cut off for a new seat this year. Nationally, a new seat followed the addition of 645,00 residents; in Colorado that figure is closer to 614,000 residents.
The six current districts will need to be adjusted. Adding the seventh seat will cause a major reconfiguration of the lines in the rapidly growing south metro area. Depending on where the lines are drawn, Senator John Andrews and John Evans and State Treasurer Mike Coffman could be in contention with innumerable mayors and county commissioners.
There are several factors that influence design of congressional districts. Protecting incumbents is the first imperative. Legislators and the governor the primary players in congressional redesign attempt to protect their partys incumbents. The next major criteria politicians consider is partisanship and the ability to gain advantage in a district. Other factors, such as maintaining communities of interest (for example not dividing Denver or Pueblo, and maintaining racial and ethnic balances) enter the calculations.
The Governor has proposed a special legislative session this summer to draw the lines. If the process gridlocks, the federal courts will draw the lines as they have several times since the 1960s.