Utah’s new congressional map


At least, this is the proposed map that’s emerged from the redistricting committee in the legislature. It’s likely to pass the full legislature, though.

I lived in Utah when they redistricted following the 2000 census. Liberal-leaning Salt Lake County was split into three different congressional districts in hopes of defeating Utah’s sole Democrat Jim Matheson (he actually survived by a nail-biter and serves to this day). With this map, at least, Salt Lake City proper is kept together (which is an improvement), but they stick SLC with all of southern and western Utah which includes predominantly rural areas (and beautiful natural parks!) that tend to vote predominantly Republican.

Since Utah’s gaining a 4th congressional seat this year, many Democrats were hopeful that they’d FINALLY get a seat all to themselves in Salt Lake County where they could have their safe token Democrat while the other three districts could have their safe Republicans to make four incumbent-friendly, uncompetitive races. It looks like, however, that there will be three uncompetitive Republican districts and one fairly competitive district.

All in all, it’s a rotten day for Democrats in Utah (as usual). However, I think this map is at least mildly less blatantly partisan than the existing map that splits SLC between the three districts. At least with this map, three of the four districts group similar communities together (Northern Utah, Wasatch Front/Eastern Utah, and south Salt Lake county). For the final district, however, Salt Lakers will be miserable with their rural representative or the entirety of southern Utah will be miserable with their urban representative. Such is political life in the State of Utah…

P.S. As with all things, there’s good and bad from this. Competitive districts are good because they keep representatives honest and force them to represent a broad constituency. However, uncompetitive districts can also be good because it stinks to be a “political loser” – those on the losing end have less faith in government and tend to participate at lower rates than “political winners.”

2 responses to “Utah’s new congressional map

  1. I thought they were going to swap a new Utah district for a House seat for DC? Any chance of that?

  2. No – that was a few years ago when Democrats controlled Congress. They wanted to give DC a House seat and the “deal” was that Utah would get another seat (which would very likely be Republican) so that there wouldn’t be any partisan gain from the DC House seat. But the proposal never made it through Congress. And now that the redistricting process has happened Utah has it’s 4th seat, so that’s no longer a viable deal option should the Democrats be looking for something to gain support for the DC House seat. But with the GOP in control of the House and a close Senate, the DC House seat proposal is an unlikely prospect for the near future…

    As for the DC House seat, I see both sides of the argument. It’s true that technically the Constitution states that only STATES can send voting representatives to the House and DC isn’t technically a state. On the other hand, it’s half a million people with no representation in the legislature, which ethically just strikes me as generally unfair…

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