District 3 altered significantly

McInnis' constituency broken apart during redistricting

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— After all the hemming and hawing over redistricting, Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., will likely still be a lock this November for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives he has already won five times.

McInnis' district was one of the districts broken apart and rearranged after a judge decided last Friday to change the boundaries of Colorado's congressional districts and introduce a new seventh district.

Nonetheless, District 3, which includes Routt County, has changed significantly it is more heavily focused on agriculture than skiing and tourism, said Blain Rethmeier, McInnis' press secretary. Eagle County, home of Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts, is now gone from the district while Las Animas and Otero counties, which are more heavily agriculture-based, have been added. That came as a bit of a blow to Mcinnis, who has enjoyed success in tourism-based counties. Generally, however, McInnis' goal was to keep the 3rd District rural, Rethmeier said. The district is still strongly Republican in terms of how it has voted in the past, Rethmeier said.

"This new map will allow the rural 3rd to keep its boots and the others to keep their wingtips," Rethmeier said.

The new district also has 6 percent more Hispanic representation than the old one, Rethmeier said.

District Judge John Coughlin in Denver decided on Jan. 25 to redraw the map that determines who votes for which representative, choosing a plan that state Republicans say favors the Democrats, giving them a reasonable chance of taking three of seven seats in the next election. Coughlin did so only after Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature failed to come to a compromise on redistricting.

Democrats in the state Legislature brought an injunction last year against the Republican plan to redistrict because of new census data that gave Colorado another seat in Congress.

But at least one Northwest Colorado Democrat was not convinced that it helped Democrats in general. Curtis Imrie, a member of the Northwest Colorado Congress and the last Democratic challenger to face McInnis, said he thinks the new district could offer a Democrat a decent chance to be elected. Imrie, who said he was poised to go toe to toe with McInnis again this November, was actually cut out of the 3rd District. He lives just south of Leadville in Chaffee County, which is now in District 5 with Colorado Springs. He said his new district, which is currently held by Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., is disjointed and represents too many different and sometimes opposing interests.

"I think it's messy, even though it beats all other systems," Imrie said. "In an ideal world, (districting) would be based on bioregions."

McInnis lobbied for a district that included the San Luis Valley but not Pueblo and the surrounding area. McInnis needed to cut 109,000 people from his massive district to keep the districts equal. Pueblo has about 106,000 people and as far as he was concerned does not have similar issues to other towns on the Western Slope.

Both Pueblo and the San Luis Valley are still part of the new district.

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