Oregon starts wrestling over new congressional district | Govt. & Politics

Oregon starts wrestling over new congressional district | Govt. & Politics

State Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, a Republican and co-chair of the interim redistricting committee, accused Democrats of having in the past conducted gerrymandering — which is the manipulation of electoral district boundaries to win an unfair political advantage.

“Our current districts have diluted the voices of Oregonians for two decades to advance one political party and incumbent politicians,” Boshart said during Friday’s meeting.

Rep. Andrea Salinas, a Democrat and fellow co-chair of the interim committee, contested the allegation.

“With all due respect to my co-chair, repeating the false claim of gerrymandering doesn’t make it true,” Salinas said. “The maps that we’re basing our current maps on passed in 2011, and they were passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.”

One of the biggest map redraws came from the Democrats, whose draft plan would expand U.S. House District 3, which is squeezed between Portland’s eastern suburbs and the Columbia River to the north and far south to the edge of the central Oregon town of Bend.

The Republican map squeezes District 3 even closer to the river that marks the Washington state line, to allow for the new District 6 to fit into the electoral boundary puzzle.

In a normal redistricting year, the redistricting process would likely have been completed by this time. But the coronavirus pandemic caused delays in the release of U.S. Census Bureau data required to draw new maps. The redistricting data, culled from the 2020 census, was released last month — four months later than expected.