Editorial: 2012 Redistricting keeps gerrymandering alive in 5th District
Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised with the new congressional boundaries from Connecticut’s redistricting special master.
When gerrymandering is the rule rather than the exception, boundaries rarely smooth out. And in Connecticut, as in most states, gerrymandering is an equal opportunity exercise. Who ‘wins’ depends on who holds the most power and has the most political clout.
The proposed new lines for Torrington are case in point.
As the ctmirror.org story so eloquently demonstrated, the redistricting fell squarely where the Democrats wanted.
Today’s 5th District looks the way it does because in 2002, Republican Nancy Johnson’s New Britain-based 6th District was merged with the Waterbury/Democratic based 5th District then held by Congressman James H. Maloney. In 2002 Johnson beat Maloney for the district seat, then topped Democrat Theresa Gerratana in 2004. When Johnson lost the 2006 election to Democrat Chris Murphy , the brief Republican reign ended and the district returned to its Democratic roots that had ruled prior to the merger with District 6.
Registration statistics show that as of October 2005, Democrats accounted for 29.63 percent of registered voters in the 5th District, while Republicans made up 24.54 percent of the voting population. Unaffiliated voters numbered 45.52 percent.
Going forward, that trend of Democratic domination will continue because the new lines carve a largely Republican contingent out of Torrington and places those voters with their logical — read dripping sarcasm into the word ‘logical,’ please — District 1 group in that bastion of conservative thinking, Hartford.
What makes just as much sense is having Winsted, New Hartford and that band of municipalities sitting in District 1. With which area do they have the most in common: Torrington or Hartford? The clear answer is Torrington, yet they’re not aligned as such.
With that move, the 5th District becomes a heavier-leaning Democratic district.
House Speaker Chris Donovan must be having a terrific weekend with this news. And maybe he’s feeling rightfully smug. After all, he did initially serve on the redistricting committee that failed to do its job and found the entire initiative turned over to the courts.
It should be noted that Donovan did finally step away from the committee appointment — after much pressure and after the Democrats had crafted their plan.
So, what does this mean for this year’s crucial 5th District race (in which Donovan is a candidate, by the way)?
It purposefully hampers the ability of a region to send to Congress a leader that for years it has rallied around and been led by. That natural, homegrown leader from Goshen is Andrew Roraback. His natural base of support frightens hard-line Democrats, a fact many will admit off the record, but scoff at publicly.
While this may look like a win for Democrats, it’s not a sure thing.
As noted above, the 5th District has a large contingent of independent voters and middle-line Democrats. Roraback has shown an ability to appeal to both groups, as have some other Republican candidates in the 5th District field.
It would not be surprising to see some of both of those groups view this redistricting for what it is – an endorsement and strengthening of politics as usual in Connecticut – and vote against, if nothing else, the statement this partisan boundary redrawing represents.
Time will tell what, if any, impact the new redistricting has. But the potential is not only huge, but also a potential game changer for state politics.
Editorial courtesy of The Register Citizen.