Iowa redistricting news and discussion thread

Minutes ago the Legislative Services Agency released a new map of Iowa political boundaries, containing four Congressional districts, 50 state Senate districts and 100 state House districts. I don't see the map on the state legislature's official site yet but will update this post as more information becomes available today.

This thread is for any comments related to Iowa redistricting. I posted a timeline of upcoming events in the process after the jump.

I liked one veteran Republican lawmaker's advice:

If the map is good to you, stay quiet, advises Rep. Stewart Iverson, R-Clarion, who was Senate majority during redistricting leader 10 years ago. If it's not, stay quieter.

On the other hand, Kathie Obradovich's counsel to legislators in today's column baffled me:

Redistricting will be painful. Do it fast. [....] Hurt feelings and simmering resentment over redistricting can pollute the caucus and spill over into discussion of other bills. Best to get it over with as soon as humanly possible.

We're talking about a map that will affect Iowa elections for a decade. If the Legislative Services Agency doesn't produce a map that seems fair to both parties the first time, have them do it again. There is no perfect redistricting plan, but improving a mediocre map is more important than wrapping things up fast at the capitol.

UPDATE: The Des Moines Register reports that the map throws Republican Representatives Tom Latham and Steve King together in the new fourth Congressional district. Democratic Representatives Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack are both in the new first district. Representative Leonard Boswell has the third district to himself, and the second district (which conveniently contains Christie Vilsack's home town of Mount Pleasant) is open. Presumably Loebsack would move to the second district if this map were accepted.

Iowa Public Radio's Jeneane Beck tweets, "If new map approved - 14 State Senate districts with more than one incumbent and seven with no incumbent." In that case, I doubt this map will be approved.

SECOND UPDATE: The maps are now up on the legislature's website, along with the proposed redistricting plan report.

THIRD UPDATE: Although Leonard Boswell has the new IA-03 to himself, it's not a good map for him, with the district stretching to the south and west of Polk County. That reminds me of the IA-04 map from the 1990s, which helped bury Neal Smith.

I suspect Iowa House Republicans won't be happy to see nine new districts where GOP incumbents would face each other. Three incumbents--Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, Stew Iverson and Henry Rayhons--all reside in the new House district 8. Only three House districts are home to more than one Democratic incumbent. The new district 13 in Sioux City would pit first-term Republican Jeremy Taylor against first-term Democrat Chris Hall.

FOURTH UPDATE: After the jump I've added some highlights from the Legislative Services Agency's report. The districts don't look very compact to me, but they are fairly close in population.

IA-01 has 761,548 people, -41 from ideal

IA-02 has 761,624 people, +35 from ideal

IA-03 has 761,612 people, +23 from ideal

IA-04 has 761,571 people, -18 from ideal

I also posted reaction comments from Representatives Braley and Boswell, Iowa House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky.

You can find the maps for individual Iowa House and Senate districts here and here. As a Windsor Heights Democrat, I don't like the looks of my new House district 43 or Senate district 22.

FIFTH UPDATE: Swing State Project helpfully provides the presidential results for each new Congressional district.

IA-01 went 58 percent Obama, 40.1 percent McCain in 2008, and 53.1 percent Kerry, 46.1 percent Bush in 2004.

IA-02 went 56.6 percent Obama, 41.2 percent McCain in 2008, and 52.5 percent Kerry, 46.5 percent Bush in 2004.

IA-03 went 51.9 percent Obama, 45.8 percent McCain in 2008, and 47.1 percent Kerry, 52.1 percent Bush in 2004.

IA-04 went 48.1 percent Obama, 49.8 percent McCain in 2008, and 44.2 percent Kerry, 55.0 percent Bush in 2004.

FINAL UPDATE: Added Loebsack's statement after the jump, which makes clear he would move into IA-02 if this map is adopted.

Bleeding Heartland will continue to cover the implications of the first redistricting plan next week. I'll be curious to see what arguments people make at the public hearings, aside from complaints about communities of interest being divided. Not only are Linn and Johnson counties separated, but the Des Moines metro area is split among three districts.

Highlights from the LSA's report on the first redistrcting plan (pdf):

Ideal Congressional District Population: 761,589

Lowest Population: District 1

Highest Population: District 2

Absolute Mean Deviation: 29.25 persons

Mean Deviation Percentage Variance: 0.00384%

Total Perimeter Score: 2,692.27miles

Average Length-Width Compactness: 66.68 miles

Ideal Senate District Population: 60,927

Lowest Population: District 39

Highest Population: District 49

Absolute Mean Deviation: 222.38 persons

Mean Deviation PercentageVariance: 0.36499%

Total Perimeter Score: 8,260.57miles

Average Length-Width Compactness: 12.30miles

Ideal House District Population: 30,464

Lowest Population: District 29

Highest Population: District 72

Absolute Mean Deviation: 132.23 persons

Mean Deviation Percentage Variance: 0.43405%

Total Perimeter Score: 11,205.95 miles

Average Length-Width Compactness: 9.73 miles

Statement from Leonard Boswell:

"During my time in public service I have represented 32 different counties in our great state. Whatever the conclusion of our redistricting process, I look forward to continuing to represent Iowa and fighting for her interests."

Statement from Bruce Braley:

"This map is a first draft and the first step in a process that will determine new Congressional districts. We'll all have to wait and see how the process plays out. I'm honored to represent northeast Iowa in Congress, and I'm focused on the very important work we have in front of us: monitoring the conflict in Libya and working on passing a responsible, long term budget to provide stability and certainty to American families and businesses."

Statement from Dave Loebsack:

"In Iowa, we are fortunate to have a nonpartisan redistricting process that puts Iowans and Iowa's communities first, ahead of politics. For more than four years, I have been honored to represent much of southeastern Iowa - in Iowa's Second Congressional district.  Understanding that the redistricting process is ongoing, as the map stands now, I would plan to continue to represent the southeastern district of Iowa that stretches from I-35 to Iowa City, the Quad Cities and to the southeastern most tip of Keokuk.  I have been honored to represent these communities in the past and look forward to representing them in the future."

Statement from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy:

"Regardless of any map that may be approved by the Legislature, Republicans can't run from their terrible record punishing Iowa's middle class.

From taking away the rights of police officers and teachers to divisive social issues to ending successful job creation efforts for main street businesses, the Republicans' extreme agenda shows they are out of touch with Iowa families."

Statement from Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky:

"No change in district boundaries can hide the Republican record and their abandonment of campaign promises this session. In 2012, when candidates are running for the first time in the new districts approved by the legislature, Republicans will be forced to explain why they have pushed an overreaching, radical agenda instead of joining Democrats in working to create jobs and strengthen our economy.

"Democrats will be able to highlight their commitment to protecting middle class Iowans in any district across the state.

"Iowa is fortunate to have a nonpartisan redistricting process that serves as a national model. We thank the Legislative Services Agency for their continued work as the redistricting process continues."

April 4: From the Legislative Services Agency:

The first proposed Congressional and Legislative Redistricting Plan to be submitted to the Iowa General Assembly will be the topic of four public hearings to be held in Council Bluffs, Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines the first week of April. The Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission, created pursuant to law, will hold the public hearings to receive the comments of interested citizens and representatives of political subdivisions and organizations on the plan. The plan is being prepared pursuant to law by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, based on the 2010 Census Bureau population data, using strict nonpartisan guidelines. The plan will be released at 8:15 a.m., on Thursday, March 31, 2011, at the State Capitol.

The five members of the Commission are Chair Maggie Tinsman of Davenport, Rose Brown of Council Bluffs, Lance Ehmcke of Sioux City, Matt Paul of Des Moines, and Eric Turner of Des Moines.

The Council Bluffs public hearing will be held on Monday, April 4, 2011, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., in the ICN Room at the Council Bluffs Public Library, 400 Willow Avenue. The following ICN sites will be interactive with the Council Bluffs site:

North Iowa Area Community College Room 106, Activity Center 500 College Drive Mason City

Northwest Area Education Agency Room 206 1520 Morningside Avenue Sioux City

Spencer Public Library 21 East Third Street Spencer

Oral presentations will be limited to three minutes for each presenter. It is not required that those requesting to speak register in advance of the hearing, but those registering to speak at the hearing location will be called upon to speak after those who registered prior to the hearing. If time remains after all who have registered to speak have spoken, the Commission may hear additional remarks from those who have already spoken and from those who did not register prior to the hearing but wish to speak.

Any individual wishing to make comments about the proposed plan at a hearing may contact the Legislative Information Office at (515) 281-5129 and the individual will be listed as a speaker at the hearing requested in the order that the request is received. Those requesting to make comments from an ICN site will be listed in order for that particular ICN site. It is not required that speakers provide written copies of their testimony, but written copies of testimony will be accepted and will be made available to Commission members.

The Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission will accept written testimony in lieu of oral presentations either by ordinary mail or by electronic mail if the written testimony is received on or prior to April 7, 2011, by the Legislative Services Agency. Any written testimony must include the name and address of the author.

Contact: Craig Cronbaugh Legislative Information Office

515-281-5129 craig.cronbaugh AT

April 5: The Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission will hold a public hearing in Bettendorf to discuss the new proposed map of Iowa political boundaries. The hearing is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., at the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, 729 21st Street.

April 6: The Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission will hold a public hearing in Cedar Rapids to discuss the new proposed map of Iowa political boundaries.

The Cedar Rapids public hearing will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., in the ICN Room at Kirkwood Community College, 104 Washington Hall, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW. The following ICN sites will be interactive with the Cedar Rapids site:

Dubuque Downtown - Northeast Iowa Community College

700 Main Street, Dubuque

Great Prairie Area Education Agency 2814 North Court Street Ottumwa

Hawkeye Community College 1501 East Orange Road Waterloo

April 7: The Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission will hold a public hearing in Des Moines from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., at the Wallace State Office Building Auditorium, 502 E. 9th St.

April 13: The commission must then report to the legislature on the input from public hearings, no later than two weeks after the Legislative Services Agency submitted the plan.

Second half of April: The Iowa House and Senate must bring a redistricting bill to a vote "expeditiously" but no sooner than three days after receiving the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission's report. The map receives an up or down vote; lawmakers cannot amend it during this stage of the process.

Late May or early June: If the Iowa House or Senate rejects the first redistricting plan, or Governor Terry Branstad vetoes it, the Legislative Services Agency has 35 days to submit a second plan to the legislature. "The second plan must be prepared in accordance with the reasons cited, if any, by the Senate or the House by resolution or the Governor by veto message, for the failure to approve the first plan, as long as the reasons do not conflict with any redistricting standard provided by the Code." No public hearings are required on the second redistricting plan. The Iowa House and Senate must wait at least seven days after it has been submitted to vote on it, and again, no amendments are allowed. Branstad would have to call a special session of the legislature for this, since the Iowa House and Senate are expected to adjourn for the year in early May.

Late summer: If either chamber of the legislature or the governor rejects the second plan, the Legislative Services Agency is required to submit a third map within 35 days of when the second plan was rejected. No public hearings are required. The legislature must wait at least seven days to vote on the third plan, which can be amended like an ordinary bill. However, the Republican-controlled Iowa House and the Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate would probably find it difficult to amend the map to a mutually agreeable form.

September: If no consensus is reached on a third map, or Branstad vetoes a map approved by the legislature, the Iowa Supreme Court would take responsibility for drawing a valid map and would have to complete the process by December 31. If the legislature enacts a plan that is successfully challenged in the Iowa Supreme Court, the seven justices would take over the process of drawing a new apportionment plan. They would have 90 days from the date of their ruling striking down the map to complete the process.

  • Nine GOP districts

    Nine districts with two incumbent Republicans could mean 18 votes against the map.  But surely it will mean all 40 Dems will vote for it, at least if they think beyond their own personal district.  What are the odds of that!

    • not necessarily

      because there are other things in these maps for Democrats not to like (Linn and Johnson in separate Congressional districts, for instance).

      • Johnson-Linn

        Historically Johnson and Linn were split from maybe the 1850s until the 1991 map.

        • when Iowa had a lot more districts

          that makes perfect sense that they would be split. However, with only four districts in the state it doesn't make a lot of sense to split the Des Moines metro area and the IC/CR corridor.

  • too many drawn together

    probably too many incumbents drawn together in the House and Senate for this map to be approved. I don't like the new 3rd Congressional District but it could be worse. Loebsak would probably move to Iowa City and Latham might move into the 3rd.  

    • how could IA-03 be worse?

      Going north, east or southeast from Polk would all be better than going west and southwest. This doesn't give Boswell any Democratic-leaning counties close by.

    • more got paired last time

      in map 2 that passed: 25 of 50 in senate and 39 of 100 in House. How many of these pairs are "you're screwed" pairs, and how many are "my district, just not my house" pairs? For example: Dave Jacoby and Mary Mascher paired in a Coralville based district, but an open Iowa City district next door closely resembling Mascher's from the 1990s. I don't know the rest of the state well enough to know stuff like that...

  • Can't Get Much Tighter!

    IA-01 has 761,548 people, -41 from ideal

    IA-02 has 761,624 people, +35 from ideal

    IA-03 has 761,612 people, +23 from ideal

    IA-04 has 761,571 people, -18 from ideal

    How could they draw a second map with less population variance than this?  I thought they would push to the limits of variation on their first try so that a second try would be feasible.

  • Play Fantasy Governor

    If you were the Governor and this plan landed on your desk, would you sign or not sign it?

    Me? Not sign. Not compact enough, splits too many communities with shared interests (CR-IC Corridor, Des Moines area)

    • I don't think Branstad cares

      about whether the map is compact. He'll be looking at what it does to Republican chances for controlling the Iowa House and Senate.

      If Branstad's worried about Tom Latham, he should sign off on this plan. If Latham moves into IA-03, this map gives him a good chance of beating Boswell.

      • Ah, but what would you do?

        I think you're right, Branstad would ok this map.

        But what would YOU do, Governor Dem?

        • Can I play Governor?

          The Gov should stay quiet and sign whatever comes his way.  The redistricting system we have is at the heart of Iowa's claims to be a good government state.  We pick our legislators!  We don't want them picking their voters, messing up our square counties with their salamander districts.

          I try to be cynical, but the notion that Branstad would veto a plan the legislature has approved just so he could get some other legislation passed is way too cynical for me.

          • Doug Gross is raising $150K

            to help make sure the redistricting process results in a good map for Iowa Republicans. If he tells Branstad it's worth rolling the dice on plan B, I think Branstad would veto a plan that had passed the legislature.

            The more I think about it the more I think the Iowa Senate is more likely to nix this plan than the Iowa House, but there's so much information we don't have, like which senators were thinking about retiring anyway, and which are willing to move into empty districts.

        • hard to say

          I think it's illogical for the Des Moines metro area to be split three ways, but maybe that's just my intense desire not to be represented by Tom Latham talking...

          • Re

            Well, it could be worse.. You could have Steve King as yur rep like me. The man is certifiably nutz... God that guy needs help!

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