HARTFORD (AP) — Connecticut Republicans urged an expert overseeing the redrawing of the state’s congressional district boundaries Monday to consider their secondary plan to eliminate what the GOP calls gerrymandering benefitting Democrats that took place two decades ago.
The plan takes aim at the “lobster claw” shape of the heavily Democratic 1st District that reaches from the Hartford area into Republican-leaning parts of northwestern Connecticut. Democratic Rep. John Larson has represented the 1st District since 1999.
The GOP’s secondary plan would move several northwestern towns including New Hartford, Winchester and most of Torrington from the 1st District to the 5th District, among other changes. The current shape of the 1st District was created in 2001 to ensure two incumbent members of Congress could run for re-election after the state lost a congressional district.
The Republicans’ primary proposal, like the one by Democrats, would make relatively few changes to congressional district boundaries.
Republicans including state Senate Republican minority leader Kevin Kelly pitched their secondary plan during a video conference with Democrats and Stanford Law School professor Nathaniel Persily. Persily was tapped by the state Supreme Court to help redraw the congressional district lines after a legislative commission couldn’t reach a bipartisan agreement before a deadline last month.
Democrats including state House Speaker Matt Ritter denied the GOP’s claims about the districts being gerrymandered in favor of Democrats, noting the Republican candidate for governor in 2018, Bob Stefanowski, won the majority of votes in the 2nd and 5th districts. Stefanowski lost the election to Democrat Ned Lamont.
Democrats and Republicans agreed Monday to a request by Persily to meet one more time before his Jan. 18 deadline to submit his congressional districting plan to the state Supreme Court, which has until Feb. 15 to establish the final maps.